New Central High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota - 1913

Central High School

New Central High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota - 1913


Paul T. Granlund

Editorial: Paul Granlund / Minnesota's sculptor laureate

If Minnesota had a sculptor laureate, it likely would have been Paul Granlund. The prolific sculptor-in-residence at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, who died Monday (September 15, 2003) at age 77, cast celebrations of the human spirit in bronze, and shared them widely throughout his native state.

Granlund was a through-and-through Minnesotan -- a Minneapolis boy, raised in a Lutheran minister's family, educated at old Central High and at Gustavus -- whose art reflected those roots. His sculptures depict ordinary people -- families, lovers, learners, dreamers -- as well as local legends. They summon a wide range of emotions and ideas, but are predominantly uplifting. A Granlund sculpture is more likely to evoke joy than sorrow, or love than grief.

His tribute to aviator Charles Lindbergh, installed on the lawn of the State Capitol, typifies his style. It is figurative art -- there can be no doubt whom the sculptor meant to portray -- but it is much more than the image of a famous person. It conveys humankind's fascination with flight, the significance of childhood play, the role of environment in nurturing dreams into reality -- all in accessible, enduring form.

Granlund's fame spread far. His work is on display in Europe, Asia and around the United States. But it also pops up in surprising abundance in local church social halls, hospital foyers and living rooms. His reach reveals an unmistakable strain of Minnesota populism. Granlund did not sculpt for the elite. He sought to touch everyone who came in contact with his art.

His work made his lungs fail in the end. It's a price we suspect he willingly paid in order to create objects that will keep touching people for generations to come.

Copyright 2003 Star Tribune, published September 18, 2003.


Paul Granlund

Born: 1925 in Minneapolis. Family: Wife Edna Spaeth, a psychiatric nurse. Children Gretchen Musicant, 51, Minneapolis public health administrator; Gregory, 46, architect in Eau Claire, Wis.; Jonathan, 44, St. Paul painter and woodworker; Timothy, 38, Minneapolis painter and art handler.

Homes: St. Peter and Schroeder, Minn.; Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Education: B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College, 1952. M.F.A., Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., 1954.

Awards: Fulbright Fellowship, Florence, Italy, 1954-1955; Guggenheim Fellowships, Rome, Italy, 1957-1959.

Career: Taught and chaired sculpture department, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, 1955-57 and 1959-71. Sculptor-in-residence, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, 1971-96. Has sculptures in more than 100 Minnesota cities.

Selected exhibitions: California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco; Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Lincoln, Neb.; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio; American Academy, Rome.

International commissions: Le Bourget Field, Paris, France; Linneaus Garden, Uppsala, Sweden; Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, India; Mathematical Institute Library, Cambridge, England; International School, Hong Kong; Peace Park, Nagasaki, Japan; St. Francis sculpture, Assisi, Italy.

Current shows: "Paul Granlund: Spirit of Bronze," American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Av. S., Mpls., thru Oct. 12 (612-871-4907). "Paul Granlund: Retrospective," Hillstrom Museum of Art, Gustavus Adolphus College, 800 W. College Av., St. Peter, Minn., thru Nov. 9 (507-933-7171).

Copyright 2003 Star Tribune, published September 21, 2003.

This page was last revised 9/20/2003