Sunday, December 29, 2013

Charles Hansen

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 
"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 

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 

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 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read Charles E. Hansen's comments about his grandfather, Oskar Johan Wedel Hansen, my father. Oskar was, like some of his sculpture, "larger than life! For a while, the winged human figure at the head of this section sat atop Oskar's home on "Pantops", east of Charlottesville, Virginia.
One can only wonder at the truck driver's reaction to the then narrow, winding, mud and gravel road over which he delivered the rough block of Vermont granite which Oskar fashioned into "Liberty", now high on a pillar at Yorktown, Virgimia. That road (much improved) now carries the sign, "Hansen's Mountain Road"
But I digress. The apple does not fall far from the tree.In 1946 my wife Dorothy and

I hitch-hikled to San Diego from Connecticut; rode bicycles east to New York City Where I took the Cooper Union competitive Entrance Exam, and won entrance! I studied a wide range of subjects including sculpture.
My m├ętier turned out to be cut paper art ranging from several wall-mounted murals about eight by twelve feet down to elephants with moveable trunks only5/8 inch high.
Us 95 year olds can tell stories by the hour, but I'll stop now. reach me at

February 23, 2014  

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