Christian Higher Education Since 1892

Visitor's Guide - Richard W. Bock Sculpture Museum

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The Sculptor

Richard W Bock Sculpture CollectionIn the late summer of 1891, Richard W. Bock established his first permanent sculpture studio in downtown Chicago. He had just returned from three years of schooling in Berlin, and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts School in Paris, and was ready to begin his career in the city where he had been raised and trained as a carver and modeler after having come to America with his German-born family.

Almost immediately he obtained three major commissions. For the Chicago Columbian Exposition, which opened in 1893, he executed the exterior architectural sculpture for two of the Fair's major buildings, the Mining and Electricity Exposition Halls, and several less important projects for private groups. At this same time he won a national competition for a large bronze figural sculpture to be placed at the Indianapolis Public Library, and he also obtained the interior sculpture work in Chicago's famous Schiller Building, a structure designed by the noted American architect Louis Sullivan. It was in Sullivan's office that Bock first met Frank Lloyd Wright.

In 1895, after having won another national sculpture competition, Richard Bock completed work on the Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument at Alton, Illinois, and a bronze group at Chickamauga, Georgia. In the last years of the 19th century, he executed all of the sculpture for the vast Machinery and Electricity Building at the Omaha World's Fair of 1898, and the pediments of Omaha's new Burlington Railroad Station. During this time he was contacted by Frank Lloyd Wright and asked to execute several sculptures for the architect's home in Oak Park, and other works for several of Wright's architectural commissions.

Richard W Bock Sculpture CollectionThe early years of the 20th century were spent in completing the work on several architectural sculptures in the Chicago area, the winning of another national competition sponsored by the State of Illinois for the Shiloh Battlefield, and the execution of a figural group for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. For a ten-year period beginning in 1903, Bock worked almost exclusively with Frank Lloyd Wright on a fountain project and executed architectural models for Wright's Unity Temple. The Mason City, Iowa bank figures (1909), and the reliefs at Wright's Midway Gardens were the last collaborations of Bock and Wright. They had been close friends, their families had spent considerable time together, and Wright had even designed a home and studio for his sculptor friend.

After 1913, Bock worked for several other Chicago-area architects, obtained commissions for funerary monuments, designed window displays for Marshall Field's on State Street in Chicago, and accepted several requests for portraits, including one of the Governor of Illinois and numerous individuals at Northwestern University's Dental School. Prior to becoming the head of the Sculpture Department at the University of Oregon in 1929, he spent three years completing the many figural works for the Hippach Chapel at Chapel Hill Gardens West in Villa Park, Illinois.

While at the University of Oregon, Bock executed a series of lunettes and capitals for a courtyard of the new Museum of Art, and also undertook several portraits in Portland and Eugene. He retired in 1932.

After returning to his home in River Forest, Illinois, he completed his career with a design for a colossus for the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition at Chicago, but the project was never realized. Many of his works were crated in hopes that they would be part of a national traveling sculpture exhibition, but they remained in storage.

In the 1940s, the sculptor and his wife moved to California, where with the help of his son and the architect William Gray Purcell, he compiled his autobiography. Succumbing to Parkinson's Disease in 1949, Bock died at the age of 84.

Visit the Bock Museum

Hours:
Mon—Fri: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For large groups, please call ahead.

Contact:
Richard W. Bock Sculpture Museum

(618) 664-7001

 

Dr. Sharon Grimes, Museum Director

(618) 664-6521