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 Lawrence Tenney (Steve) Stevens  (1896 - 1972)

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Lived/Active: Arizona/California/Massachusetts      Known for: animal sculpture and sketches-prints

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Ad Code: 3
Lawrence Tenney Stevens
from Auction House Records.
Polar Bear
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Lawrence Tenney Stevens was a sculptor of western animals as well as painter and printmaker who studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School, Pratt Institute, and privately with Charles Grafly and Bela Pratt.  To increase his understanding of anatomy, he took anatomy classes at Tufts Medical School.

In 1922, he earned the Prix de Rome, which allowed him to study in Rome at the American Academy with Paul Manship, and it is thought that from that time, they influenced each other's work. 

In 1929, he visited Arizona and Cody, Wyoming, where "his presence is thought to have been influential in the emergence of the Cowboy High Style in the decorative arts." (Powers, 489). 

In 1935, he spent time in Dallas, Texas where he was on George Dahl's staff for exterior decorations at the Fair Park for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition.

During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Corps, and in 1954 moved briefly to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he was Director of the Philbrook Art Center.

In 1954, he settled in Tempe, Arizona and beginning in 1960 with a sculpture called Cutting Horse, he did a "Rodeo Series."  Usually he left his bronzes with natural finish and no patina.  According to Peggy and Harold Samuels, he was "a lean, sinewy man galloping through life in Western pants and cowboy boots" (490). 

Stevens died at sea in 1972 on a return trip to America from Italy.

Sources:
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
John and Deborah Powers, Texas Painters, Sculptors & Graphic Artists

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
John Faubion has contributed the following list of periodicals in which Stevens is referenced:

"Readers Digest," March 1939
"National Sculpture Review," Spring 1960, (Today's Architecture)
"Arizona Highways," March 1972, (Horses of the West);
"Tempe Magazine," March-April 1997 (Lawrence Tenney Stevens: Tempe's Impassioned Sculptor);
"The New Yorker" December 1938, (Man-God)
Stone & Webster Journals (8/1922, 7/1923. 8/1926)

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NOTE from James Ruddle:

Anecdotal: I knew Stevens slightly in Tulsa, OK. He had won a commission to sculpt a memorial to Tulsa Central High School students and alums who had died in service in World War II and, with that as the impetus, he moved to Tulsa where he built a studio/house on a low hill outside of town.  He married a former University of Tulsa theater student who was known to fellow students by the absolutely fabulous name: Bubbles Bushner.

Stevens was an irascible fellow, with reason enough.  His work was pretty much ignored.  He wanted to do great heroic works and was stuck with petty commissions.  He loved to show pictures of the trees--whole trunks probably forty or fifty feet high--which he had carved and exhibited at the Century of Progress, in Chicago, 1933-34.  One of my favorite lines from him was delivered after he had spent another day chiseling on a large chunk of stone: "The reason there are so few women sculptors is that it's damned hard work.  Rosa Bonheur was an exception, but she smoked cigars and shaved every day." An interesting, if prickly man.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Brighton, MA on July 16, 1896. Stevens was a resident of Bedford Hills, NY in 1933, Los Angeles in 1935, and Tulsa, OK in the 1950s. Member: NSS. Awards: American Prix de Rome, 1922. Exh: Ebell Salon (LA), 1934; LA County Fair, 1934-41; Scripps College, 1935; Calif.-Panama Int'l Expo (San Diego), 1935. In: Scripps College (Claremont).
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Contemporary American Sculpture; American Art Annual 1933; Who's Who in American Art 1936-62; Texas Painters (Powers).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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