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Entries : Lorado Taft and Chicago Sculpture
Lorado Taft and Chicago Sculpture

Lorado Taft and Chicago Sculpture

Lorado Taft was a sculptor, author, and educator in Chicago for nearly five decades. After education at the University of Illinois in Urbana (1875–1880) and training in Paris (1880–1885), Taft returned to Chicago where he opened a studio and joined the faculty of the Art Institute in 1886. By 1891 his growing reputation led to an important assignment to design sculpture for William Le Baron Jenney's Horticultural Building (1893) at the World's Columbian Exposition. He subsequently completed several more large-scale public projects, including Blackhawk (Oregon, Illinois, 1911), The Columbus Fountain (Washington DC, 1912), The Fountain of the Great Lakes (Chicago, 1913), The Fountain of Time (Chicago, 1922), and Alma Mater (Urbana, 1929). To help promote his interest in art as civic beautification, Taft became a prolific author as well, contributing numerous articles to newspapers and journals throughout his career. His most significant publication was The History of American Sculpture (1903), the first comprehensive survey of his field.

Taft was also an integral part of the Chicago cultural community that included such figures as Henry Blake Fuller, Hamlin Garland, and Ralph Clarkson. Together with these and other writers and artists, he participated in several prominent art clubs and organizations, including the Central Arts Association of America, the Chicago Society of Artists, the Little Room Studio Club, and the Eagle's Nest artists' colony (in nearby Oregon, Illinois). In 1907 he opened the Midway Studios as a traditional atelier, training many more young artists who worked as his student assistants over the following three decades.