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Jo Davidson

Sculptor
Born March 30, 1883, New York, New York
Died January 2, 1952, Tours, France

"No one ever met Jo and then forgot him. Wherever he was, his vibrant personality pervaded. He was tremendously gifted for the work he did. He was intelligent, incisive, witty, a marvellous raconteur. His enthusiasm was endless. He hated everything mean or intolerant." - Harry Rosin

Jo Davidson had an international reputation as a portrait sculptor who captured in bronze such notables as Frank Sinatra, Will Rogers, Ghandi, Albert Einstein, and Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Working in a bold naturalistic style, he sculpted the portraits of many important international heads of state including General Pershing, Mussolini, Prime Minister of Israel David Ben Gurion, and President of Israel Chaim Weizmann. Fascinated by the personalities behind world events, he said his sculpted portraits "became an obsession." Davidson once said "I do my interviews in clay and bronze. I consider my portraitures as comments on people that sit for me." Davidson's career in sculpture began in New Haven where he was enrolled in the Yale School of Medicine, switching to the School of Art after his first patron, a New Haven lawyer, showed Davidson's drawings to the head of the school. Davidson was invited to attend Yale's art classes without charge and he soon discovered his love for working in clay. In 1910, Davidson had his first solo show, and he exhibited regularly around the country and the world. In 1947 the American Academy of Arts and Letters held a retrospective of almost two hundred of Davidson's works.

Image: John Folinsbee, Portrait of Jo Davidson, photo coourtesy James A. Michener library


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