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 Leonard D. Jungwirth  (1903 - 1964)

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Lived/Active: Michigan      Known for: Sculpture, art education, lectures, crafts

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Leonard D. Jungwirth (1903-1963)

He was first of all a creator of monuments.  He worked in stone, ceramic, metal, and wood, but wood was his favored medium.  It was often said that he could "think in wood".  The Minnesota granite 12-ton statue of Father Gabriel Richard, now in Gabriel Richard Park, is near the bridge to Belle Isle since 1940.  The 10 foot ceramic statue of The Spartan (Sparty) has graced the MSU campus since 1943.  He also completed numerous commissions for public buildings and churches in Detroit, East Lansing (St. John Student Chapel and St. Thomas Aquinas Church) and Detroit's suburbs. 

Leonard was a self-effacing husband, father of two daughters Alessandra and Andrea, a teacher, and a gentle man.  He and Irene were in numerous shows and competitions and the Detroit Institute of Arts  has three of his sculptures.  His work was displayed at the New York Museum of Modern Art, The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and the 1939-40 World's Fair in New York.  His art is in private art collections, on the MSU campus, Kresge Art Museum, and around the Lansing area, including the facade of Lansing City Hall.

One of twelve children born to Austrian immigrants in Detroit, Leonard worked in his father Joachim's (known as Dean of the Woodcarvers) carving shop,  graduated as an architectural engineer from University of Detroit in 1927, and studied ecclesiastical and civic monumental art at Munich's Royal Academy of Fine Arts  from 1929-33.  He returned to Detroit to work at Jungwirth and Sons, and from 1936 to 1940 as an artist and supervisor of WPA's Federal Art Project for the Detroit area, creating many Detroit area landmarks.  He was introduced to Irene Gayas by a priest, who felt the two artists would have much in common, and they married in 1939.  Leonard completed his Master's Degree in Art at Wayne State University in 1940.  He then moved to East Lansing to join the newly created Art Department at  Michigan State College as assistant professor in 1940 and remained there for 23 years.  He was with his students watching their work cast into bronze, including his Christus, when he had his fatal heart attack August 21, 1963.
Information provided by Andrea Jungwirth Lams

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