Pickens Museum Opens Exhibit at NOC

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Quest Eternal by Sculptor Donald De Lue. Doctor Pickens Museum display of art works by Sculptor Donald De Lue on NOC Tonkawa campus. Pictured (L-R): Dr. Cheryl Evans, NOC President, Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum, and Sheri Snyder, NOC Vice President for Development and Community Relations. (photo provided by John Pickard, NOC Photographer)
Rocket Thrower by Sculptor Donald De Lue. The Rocket Thrower is one of the largest, if not the largest, of all of DeLue’s works. Created for the New York World’s Fair in 1964, it is 45 feet high, cast in bronze, and was one of the earliest concepts of man’s relationship to space and an adventurous spirit
Quest Eternal by Sculptor Donald De Lue. Quest Eternal” is one of De Lue's best known works. Twisted in a dramatic pose, this 27-foot tall male figure reaches toward the sky. The muscular nude brings to mind ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, as well as the work of Renaissance-era artists, who often looked to classical art to inspire their choice of subject matter and style. Here, the sculpture also fits in with the modern urban landscape and parallels the bold verticality of the neighboring Prudential Tower, completed three years before the sculpture's installation. Despite the work's enormous size and weight of five tons, it was cast in one piece at a foundry in Italy. In contrast, many large sculptures are cast in multiple parts and then welded together.
Sculptor Donald De Lue. In a career that spanned half a century, Donald De Lue created hundreds of statutes, medals and medallions, many of them patriotic, many ofQuest Eternal.jpg them epitomizing the virtues of strength, patriotism, energy, and the American spirit. In an interview he gave in his Leonardo studio in 1975, DeLue said his mission was to “give dignity to the man, not make a hero of DeLue.”

Pickens Museum Opens Exhibit at NOC of “Quest Eternal” by Sculptor Donald De Lue

Ask any Ponca City resident the name of the sculptor who created the Pioneer Woman statue and he or she will probably answer Bryant Baker says Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum. “However Bryant Baker did not create the Pioneer Woman single-handedly. Actually Baker led a team of sculptors who worked on the iconic sculpture that has long been a symbol of our Oklahoma heritage” says Pickens. “And foremost on Baker's team was Donald De Lue, who worked as Bryant Baker's chief assistant from 1923 to 1938 and played a key role in the creation of the Pioneer Woman.”

Now Oklahomans can see work by Donald De Lue for themselves in an exhibition that Pickens Museum has opened at Northern Oklahoma College in the administration building in Tonkawa. Visitors to the Pickens Museum exhibit at NOC can see the maquette for “Quest Eternal” plus ten sketches that De Lue produced with the same theme.

Born Donald H. Quigley in Boston, the artist took the name De Lue in 1918 from the maternal side of his family. At an early age De Lue studied with Bela Pratt at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, but most of his training came from working in the studios of older sculptors. De Lue spent three years with Richard Recchia, and another three with the Englishman Robert P. Baker, brother of Bryant Baker with whom De Lue would later be employed for fifteen years. After World War I De Lue worked on a tramp steamer to get to Europe and spent five years in France where he worked for several sculptors, including Alfredo Pena.

Returning to the United States, De Lue worked from 1923 to 1938 as chief assistant to Bryant Baker in New York City. While working for Baker, De Lue had a key role in the creation of the “Pioneer Woman” statue.“Bryant Baker primarily created busts during his career and he was very skilled in throwing a likeness of a client or of a prominent public figure,” says Pickens. “But Baker's strengths did not include musculature and doing full bodies.

According to art historian Donald Roger Howlett, when De Lue went to work as Baker's chief assistant in 1923, he was the perfect addition to the Baker studio. “De Lue's greatest talents lay in the areas where Bryant Baker was weakest,” writes Howlett. “Baker was a highly competent sculptor who had the ability to capture a portrait likeness quickly. His severest critics admitted that while the sculptures might not be artistic, they did look like the subject. Baker had, however, great difficulty modeling the rest of the anatomy. De Lue's greatest strength was anatomy. Whether working from model, memory, or imagination, his muscles would always connect in the right place to the bone.”

As far as the Pioneer Woman was concerned, Baker said that he developed the conception and movement of the monument in an eight- or ten-inch sketch model he made a few hours after he learned about the competition." De Lue then executed the thirty-three-inch competition model for the sculpture in 1927, with Baker supervising and completing the face.

After the commission for the seventeen-foot sculpture on a thirteen-foot stone base was awarded to Baker by E.W. Marland, De Lue set to work in 1928 and 1929 modeling it in Baker's Brooklyn studio, working with Jean La Seure, the enlarger. De Lue later remembered: "One day Bryant decided he would work on it, and did some work. I said, 'Look, Bryant, if I were you I'd get the hell out of here, because you're not helping at all.' He said, 'Thank you very much!' and he went."

“Interesting enough, after Donald De Lue went out on his own in 1938, his career was much more distinguished than Baker's. De Lue went on to become one of the premier American sculptors of the twentieth century,” says Pickens. “Now Oklahomans can see work by Donald De Lue for themselves at our exhibition at NOC.”

De Lue's first solo work won recognition in 1938 when he was runner-up in a competition for the Federal Trade Commission Building in Washington, D.C. This led to several government commissions, the first of which were reliefs for the Philadelphia courthouse, completed in 1940. In the next almost fifty years, De Lue executed more monumental commissions than anyone else of his generation. Among his works are Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves for the Omaha Beach Memorial in France and Rocket Thrower for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. De Lue was President of the National Sculpture Society for many years.

In a career that spanned fifty years, De Lue created hundreds of statutes, medals and medallions, many of them patriotic epitomizing the virtues of strength, patriotism, energy, and the American spirit. In an interview he gave in his New Jersey studio in 1975, De Lue said his mission was to “give dignity to the man, not make a hero of De Lue.”

“Quest Eternal” is one of De Lue's best known works. Twisted in a dramatic pose, this 27-foot tall male figure reaches toward the sky. The muscular nude brings to mind ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, as well as the work of Renaissance-era artists, who often looked to classical art to inspire their choice of subject matter and style. Originally installed in front of the Prudential Tower in downtown Boston, the sculpture also fits in with the modern urban landscape and parallels the bold verticality of the neighboring Prudential Tower, completed three years before the sculpture's installation. Despite the work's enormous size and weight of five tons, it was cast in one piece at a foundry in Italy. In contrast, many large sculptures are cast in multiple parts and then welded together.

Another well known sculpture by De Lue was the centerpiece of the New York World Fair in 1964. Rocket Thrower is one of the largest, if not the largest, of all of De Lue’s works. Commissioned by Robert Moses for the World’s Fair, Rocket Thrower is 45 feet high and was one of the earliest concepts of man’s relationship to space and an adventurous spirit. De Lue was given six months to create his masterpiece completing it in time to be shipped to Italy for casting. He was allocated $105,000 for the statue, which still stands on the grounds of the Worlds’ Fair in Flushing Park in NYC. De Lue envisioned his works lasting thousands of years.

“Pickens Museum probably has the most complete collection of work by Donald De Lue in the world,” says Pickens. “I became interested in De Lue about 30 years ago when I learned of his role in creation of the Pioneer Woman. Our Museum now holds over forty of De Lue's sculptures, over 100 of his original sketches, and 135 of De Lue's original sketch books, that we have acquired over the years.”

“We look forward in coming years to making more of De Lue's work available to the public so they can see for themselves the magnificent creations by a world-renowned artist who has a strong connection to Oklahoma through the Pioneer Woman statue.”

References

About Pickens Museum

Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp by Sculptor John Free. Seeking to attain his tribe's highest war honor by touching his enemy. This action among indigenous peoples is called "Counting Coup".
Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp by Sculptor John Free. “Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp” is a bronze created by Osage Artist John Free. The bronze, eight feet high and twelve feet long) was enlarged to 1-1/4 life size through the efforts of John Free of the Bronze Horse foundry in Pawhuska and Hugh Pickens. Pictured (L-R): Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear of the Osage Nation.
Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman by Artist Daniel Pickens. “Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman” is a mural painted by fine artist Daniel Pickens. Daniel was born in Lima, Peru in 1974 and is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden. This mural is at our Ponca City location.
Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman by Artist Daniel Pickens. Our mural "The Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman" is located in City Central at our Ponca City location.
Doctor Pickens Museum of Turquoise Jewelry and Art. Pickens Museum displays art works at NOC Tonkawa campus. Pictured (L-R): Dr. Cheryl Evans, NOC President, Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum, and Sheri Snyder, NOC Vice President for Development and Community Relations. (photo by John Pickard/Northern Oklahoma College) This art is at our Tonkawa location
Native American Artist Yatika Starr Fields Completes Mural for Pickens Museum.
The World's Largest Naja. Future location of Pickens Museum on Route 60 and "U" Street West of Ponca City
Architectural Renderings of Pickens Museum.
Display of Turquoise Jewelry.
"Red Man" by Native American Artist Fritz Scholder. Pickens Museum Director Hugh Pickens on right.
Native American Jewelry Artist Tonya Rafael with a silver frame she created to honor my wife Sr. S.J. Pickens. My wife and Tonya worked together over the years creating new jewelry art pieces. My wife had an eye for color and would often design a spectacular piece and ask Tonya to execute it for her. A skilled silversmith, Tonya would sometimes stay in our guest house, set up a workshop, and work for days at a time on a Squash Blossom, Bolo, or Bracelet my wife commissioned. The piece is a silver picture frame that Tonya cut out of thick silver plate. Around the edge of the picture frame are 95 small turquoise stones. In the top is a large spiny oyster stone in the shape of a heart. The frame contains a photo that Tonya took of my wife a few years ago. Dr. Pickens is wearing one of her favorite outfits and if you look closely you can see a special squash blossom and necklace that Tonya created for my wife. In the bottom of the frame is an inscription.
Native American Artist Jolene Bird. Jolene Bird is an accomplished artist who learned her craft from her grandfather over 20 years ago. Jolene makes her jewelry in the tradition of the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico. This is a Fender Stratocaster guitar onto which Jolene has attached pieces of Kingman and Sonoran Turquoise highlighted with Jet. The stars are in Abalone, Mother of Pearl, Pipestone, Yellow Serpentine, and Spiny Oyster. The artistry in this piece is simply breathtaking and has to be seen to be believed. Consider that this is a three dimensional mosaic, a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle if you will. Jolene told me that each individual piece of turquoise had to be cut, shaped, and ground down to fit perfectly with the other pieces. Each individual piece probably took six to eight hours to produce and there are literally hundreds of pieces covering the guitar.
Painting by Peruvian Artist Josue Sanchez. Photo Credit: Hugh Pickens Pickens Museum

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