American sculptor of Danish descent, born at Bear Lake, Idaho. In the 1890s he worked in Paris (where he studied at the *Académie Julian) and London, then settled in New York in 1902. He made his name with large-scale public works, notably the statues of the twelve Apostles for the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York (1905), and a six-ton marble head of Abraham Lincoln (1908) for the US Capitol in Washington.
Following their successful reception, he took still further the American cult for the colossal (what his wife called ‘the emotional value of volume’) when he was commissioned to carve a portrait of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee into the rock of Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, Georgia. Work began in 1917, but the project was aborted in 1925 after a dispute between Borglum and the commissioners. However, the project led to his most famous work (begun 1927), the ‘carving’ (he used dynamite and pneumatic drills) of a huge cliff at Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota with colossal portrait busts of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Washington's head was completed in 1930, Jefferson's in 1936, Lincoln's in 1937, and Roosevelt's in 1939; the final details were added in 1941, after Borglum's death, by his son Lincoln. The project was sponsored by the US Government and cost more than $1,000,000.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)