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WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY SCULPTURE TOUR

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Martin Luther King Jr

Artist - Donald De Lue
Born - 1897
Died - 1988
Origin - America
Year Built - 1976

About the Artist: Throughout his career, Donald De Lue actively sought public commissions, and much of his training led him to pursue architectural ornamentation and commemorative sculpture. He apprenticed first with Richard Recchia (1885-?) in 1912 and then studied at the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts between 1914-16. In 1918, he left for Paris, where he assisted Paul Manship (1885-1966). He moved to London shortly after where he worked with Bryant Baker (1881-1970). He accompanied Baker back to New York in 1922. In the 1930s, De Lue gained a national reputation for his distinctive Art Deco style which was favored for public works for much of the decade. In 1952, he received the commission for The Spirit of American Youth, a memorial to the fallen soldiers of D-Day located on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

Later in his career, De Lue focused almost exclusively on commemorative sculpture, like the works on the Wichita State University campus. Thomas Jefferson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were intended for this purpose. In 1975, the Jefferson Parish Sesquicentennial Commission in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, commissioned De Lue to create a sculpture of Thomas Jefferson to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the conclusion of the Louisiana Purchase. De Lue based his Jefferson on a 1785 bust by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828). De Lue then conceived the sculpture as a striding figure, with his left hand holding a quill pen, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. In addition, the thirteen stars on the base represent the original thirteen colonies. The finished conception, complete with symbolic iconography, adds a sense of democratic purpose to the former president and statesman.

Although lacking the overt symbolism of Thomas Jefferson, the life-sized bust of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1976, commemorates the accomplishments of the fallen champion of civil rights. The bust was originally made for the students of Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey, as a replacement for a stolen bust of King.