Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oskar J. W. Hansen (1892-1971)

As recorded here earlier,
in 1926, there was one J.W. Hansen
who was accused by Emory Seidel
of refusing to pay his dining room bill to "Old Joe"

But further research has discovered
that Mr. Hansen and Mr. Seidel
were both distinguished sculptors
who served together on the Jury of Selection for the
46th Annual American Painting and Sculpture Exhibit
in 1935 at the Art Institute

and Mr. Hansen won the commission
to make some of the most famous statues of the time
as ornament for that massive monument
to modern America,
Hoover Dam

What an incredible
that must have been,
right in the middle of the Great Depression.

He also designed the relief sculpture on that site

and later, re-designed the figure at the top
of the Victory Memorial at Yorktown
(the earlier version had be struck by lightning)

But he was a man of many talents,
and he designed this silver fruit bowl well as this small brooch

..and this ornamental bust

He also was a writer ---
publishing this "how to" article
in "Amateur Mechanics"

and this essay
explaining the Victory statue
he designed for the lobby of the Hinsdale Memorial Building.

And did I mention that he published two books?

In 1927, the Nordic Society of Chicago published:

Chien-Mi-Lo : a satirical prose fantasy with interpretative sculpture

and in 1968, Vantage (a New York vanity press) published:

"Beyond the Cherubim"

When attempting to read these books,
it should be remembed that when he first arrived in
in Chicago, he attended Northwestern Divinity School --
so his prose might be called 'ecstatic'

Out in the western suburbs, he also modeled
the bust of Joseph Medill at the McCormick Museum in Cantigny.

There is also another winged figure
that he designed for the Rand Tower in Minneapolis.

Born in Norway, he spent his youth as a cabin boy
sailing around the world,
finally arriving in Chicago in 1910.

He might be considered the
most distinguished artist to have
ever joined the Palette and Chisel
(if only he had paid his tab to Old Joe!)

(note:  more about Hansen is written here )



This air medal was brought to our attention
by the comment left below


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been researching Mr. Hansen for some time as I have a medal that is just signed J. Hansen but I cannot find if he ever used just one initial.
In the current Presidential Coin and Antiques Catalog Auction #77 Lot 567, there is a great Art Deco medal of the 10th Annual Air Races in Chicago in 1930. You can find this catalog at
This piece also shows his interest in wings.
I admire your effort in putting together the two pieces on Hansen. They are very good.
All the best,
Harry Waterson

June 28, 2007  
Anonymous sinister tea shop said...

"A Modern Medusa" is an appreciation of Oskar JW Hansen's work in Claude Bragdon's book "Merely Players"... "Mr. Hansen is essentially a mystic, but with feet firmly planted in the world of reality."

January 27, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

Thanks for the reference!

Here's more about that book:

"And now comes a modern sculptor who takes this Medusa mask and makes it the vehicle of expression of ideas and emotions to which antiquity was a stranger, for they are the bitter fruitage of that sky-hiding tree we name "modern civilization." -on artist Oskar J. W. Hansen Claude Bragdon was an architect and stage designer who dabbled in theosophy and the occult... and wrote about all his expansive experiences with spirit, passion, and a penetrating insight. This 1929 collection of compulsively readable essays is a fascinating journey through life in the theater, the meaning of modern art, diverse traditions of spirituality coming together in contemporary culture, and the fascination with the paranormal that gripped Bragdon and his times. The impressive range of Bragdon's erudition serves as a fascinating overview of the popular intellectualism of the early 20th century. Other works by Bragdon available from Cosimo Classics: Oracle, The Eternal Poles, Yoga for You, Four-Dimensional Vistas, Projective Ornament, The Beautiful Necessity, Architecture and Democracy, Episodes from An Unwritten History, and A Primer of Higher Space (The Fourth Dimension). American architect, stage designer, and writer CLAUDE FAYETTE BRAGDON (1866-1946) helped found the Rochester Architectural Club, in the city where he made his greatest mark as a building designer with structures including Rochester Central Station, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the First Universalist Church; he also designed Peterborough Bridge in Ontario. In later life, Bragdon worked on Broadway as scenic designer for 1930s productions of Cyrano de Bergerac and Hamlet, among others"

January 28, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I have had a brass leaf for possibly 15 years that I purchased from an antique store and I just started thinking to find the artist. can anyone tell me more about this artist? the signature is as follows:
copyright 1948
Oskar J.W. Hansen

The leaf is approximately 5 inches long and 2 inches across. It has wonderful detail which does not seem to have been harmed with time although there is some wear on the edges and high points. Can anyone guide me toward a website that I can get some further information about it? Possibly know where to have it appraised?

Thank you,


August 29, 2009  
Blogger Einar said...

What a joy to discover your piece on Hansen, just when I needed/wanted it. Einar

November 29, 2009  

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