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Jungwirth Sculpture at Kresge Art Museum

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Leonard Jungwirth (American, 1903-1963)Man with Accordion, ca. 1935 Painted plaster.

Prior to joining the MSU Art Department faculty in 1940, Leonard Jungwirth was an artist and supervisor in Detroit for the Federal Arts Program (FAP). Born in Detroit, he learned wood carving in his father’s shop then studied art at University of Detroit and Wayne State University. He also studied religious sculpture in Munich. He worked in a variety of mediums such as stone, wood, and ceramics. The Spartan, his monumental ceramic sculpture on the MSU campus, is his best known work. Additional pieces by him are in the MSU Museum collection.

This small painted plaster, signed by him and with “WPA” on the back, is characteristic of his figurative style using generalized forms and features. Jungwirth’s daughter has a similar figure and both may have functioned as book ends. This piece is on loan from the US General Services Administration, which has oversight and is the legal owner of artwork produced during the WPA. Since these objects may not be privately sold, the GSA is charged with finding appropriate public institutions to care for the works, and recently contacted Kresge to place it on long-term loan here.

Loan from the Fine Arts Program, Public Buildings Service, U. S. General Services Administration. Commission through the New Deal art projects. Courtesy of Ashima Saigal, Class of 1988, and David Fridsma, Class of 1991.

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