Avard T. Fairbanks Art

The Life and Work of Avard T. Fairbanks, Sculptor

Avard T. Fairbanks by Eugene F. Fairbanks, his son

Avard Tennyson Fairbanks was born in Provo, Utah, on March 2, 1897, the tenth son of a family of eleven. His father, John B. Fairbanks, once a farm boy in a frontier village, had become one of the pioneer artists of Utah. He was an instructor in art at the Brigham Young Academy (now Brigham Young University). To supplement the low income of teaching, he operated a photographic studio with son J. Leo. The mother of this large family, Lilly Annetta Huish Fairbanks, had intended to see that her children were well educated, but an unfortunate accident prevented her from seeing her hopes fulfilled. She fell, injuring her neck, in August 1897, and remained bedfast until she died eight months later. She left an infant son and several young children to be reared by the father, assisted by the teenage children of the family.

Avard first showed interest in sculpture at the age of 12, when he modeled a pet rabbit under the direction of his brother, J. Leo, by this time an accomplished artist, who had studied in colleges and in Paris art schools and was supervisor of art in Salt Lake City Public Schools. This clay rabbit was entered in the State Fair and won a first prize. However, when the judge, a university professor, learned that it was the work of a boy, he refused to award the medal. This thoughtless act made young Avard resentful and determined to do even better work. He resolved to become an accomplished artist so that the professor would in time recognize him as a professional sculptor. "I'll show him some day!" he said.

Avard T. Fairbanks sculpting Lincoln

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Avard T. Fairbanks, Ph.D. (1897-1987) was America's distinguished sculptor, anatomist, and educator of the 20th Century. In his career he created more than 100 public monuments to great characters and events in history. (Four are found in the U.S. Capitol Bldg. in Washington, D.C.) He studied in New York, Paris, and Italy, and he attained his Doctorate in Anatomy at the University of Michigan where he was also Professor of Sculpture. He served on the faculties of five American universities and he was the founding Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah (his native state). He was a descendent of Utah Pioneers (1847) and colonial Massachusetts settlers (1636).

The books each include a detailed biography of Avard T. Fairbanks.


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