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 Fred Hoppe  (20th century)

About: Fred Hoppe


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Lived/Active: Nebraska      Known for: sculptor-wildlife

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born and raised in Schuyler, Nebraska in the wildlife-rich Platte River Valley, Fred Hoppe became a sculptor of the subject matter which intrigued him as a young man spending time with his sportsman grandfather on his grandfather's farm along that river. He, along with other family members, enjoyed the log cabin built by his father on the same property in the 1930s. Of his parents, Hoppe said they gave him a wonderful childhood, allowing him to raise ducks, dogs, pheasants, and all sorts of orphaned animals.

That lifestyle ended when he attended the University of Nebraska on a full athletic scholarship and became a business major. During his college days, he set up a studio in an old building in downtown Lincoln and grew to love the exhibits at Morrill Hall, the University's natural history museum. He was much influenced by the enthusiasm for wildlife of Director Harvey Gunderson and with Gunderson's encouragement, he took up museum taxidermy. To learn more about his subjects in their habitats and their anatomy, he took extensive backpack trips photographing animals in Africa, Europe, and North America.

Hoppe decided to devote himself to sculpting these animal subjects and was helped with modern techniques of armature by sculptor Forrest Hart, living in Maine. His first pieces did not sell well, which he attributed to too much attention to detail, but he later achieved success from his studio that he established in Malcolm, Nebraska.

In addition to wildlife, Hoppe has also sculpted life-size human figures including war heroes, and extinct animals such as a life-size imperial mammoth, 26 feet long by 17 feet high. In 2002, one of his works, "Mule Deer" was installed at Cabella's sporting goods store in Kansas City, Kansas for their grand opening.

A generous spirit has led him to donate several hundred sculptures to charity, one of them being the Make-A-Wish Foundation for seriously ill children.

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