Oskar Hansen (1892-1971) was one of the more colorful members
in the club's storied past -- I've posted about him here and here
Last week, I heard from his grandson, Charles,
who recently graduated from art school
and started making sculpture.
At the age of 65 !
After a career in I.T.,
he finally could not deny his family's destiny.
And as you can see from the above,
his pieces have that same upward lift
that characterized his grandfather's work.
But being born 50 years later,
his work is more varied
And Charles has added this information about his grandfather:
Oscar was born in 1892 in Nordland county, a very rural and desolate area of northern Norway, which includes the well-known Lofoten Islands. He was born out of wedlock, and although there are several tempting references to a royal connection, I have the parent's names from parish church records of the time. In June of 2011 I did much digging on Oscar, and got a lot of help from Norwegians on the NorwayHeritage site. Norway has digitized many records going back several centuries. I've just gotten involved in this again over the past few days, as I was just contacted by a fellow in Oslo whose grandmother was also a child of Josefine, who was Oskar's mother - so we're second cousins. His brother had found my thread and recognized the commonality, and they've learned things from the dialogue there that they didn't previously know. "My grandmother told me that Oskar was known to be very creative person with a very special personality." Around 15-16, he became a cabin boy on a freighter, that spent a lot of time in the Americas. In June 1916 he jumped off ship and swam ashore near Wilmington, North Carolina. After 3 years in the Army, I gather to establish himself in the US (he later became a citizen), he moved to the Chicago area. He had sent the attached photo to his foster parents in Klo (a very tiny place, but Google maps finds it), and it was published in a book about local farm history. Regarding Oscar's art training, it looks like he may have been largely self-taught. However, this sounds as likely as anything - but I don't buy the Rodin bit, as that would be a longer shore leave than allowed, and Paris isn't even a port.
"Hansen told the reporter that he had developed a passion for sculpture while he was at sea. He visited Italy on his many travels and began learning the craft when the ship's carpenter adapted his tools and obtained some marble that the two of them began to carve. Hansen also claimed to have studied with famed sculptor August Rodin in Paris." Almost all of the descriptions of him on the net use the inflated stuff he wrote on the back of the slip-cover for his book, and much of it is fantasy. For example, he says he is a son of King Oskar II of Sweden, but the woman he claims as his mother was actually the wife of Oskar I. I'm also quite certain that he never served in the French Foreign Legion or with Pancho Villa. I just noticed there's a very short Wikipedia entry on him, and I may try to flesh it out, but I may not have enough citations for their needs. There's a well-known Polish architect (go figure) who also has the name of Oskar Hansen. There's a show on him in Barcelona next year, and I thought of writing them and suggesting a later show on the "other Oskar Hansen". However, as has been noted, I don't think there's much of his work that could be shipped there, and I think some of it is lost - or at least misplaced. For example - his Leif Ericson piece that supposedly used to be in Grant Park (in your blog entry). Also, a bust of Albert Michelson that used to be at the Adler Planetarium - this has one of the most interesting mounts of a portrait bust that I've ever seen. His book shows a lovely bust of a Mrs. Deering Danielson - again with a wonderful base, that I don't know anything about. He calls the piece "Rosemarie", which makes me wonder if perhaps she was an early patron - and what Mr. Danielson thought of the title.