Minnesota Sculptor Paul Granlund

Sculptor Paul Granlund was a Minnesota native and the son of a Lutheran pastor. Following academics in Minnesota and Michigan, he was a Guggenheim Fellow in Rome, working under the professional mold maker Mutzi, who taught him how to remove the plaster mold from models. Granlund returned to Minnesota in the 1960s serving as a faculty member at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He became a sculptor-in-residence at the Gustavus Adolphus College in 1971, creating work in that studio until his retirement in 1996. Granlund’s nurturing in the Lutheran tradition, paired with his time as a student at Gustavus, led him to pursue religious subjects.

Time spent serving in WWII and travels across the country influenced his desire to pursue figural work in appreciation for qualities shared by all types of people. Further, his efforts in war may have allowed him to identify with the work of Alberto Giacometti. Giacometti’s post-war sculptures were composed slender figural sculptures of figures that expressed the emotional and alienated relation between humans. The human condition is conveyed throughout Granlund’s oeuvre through tension and motion of bodies.

Granlund was one of few sculptors who completed their own bronze casting, rather than sending molds off to a foundry. This allowed him quality control throughout the five stages of creation. The lost-wax method alternates between positive and negative states of form, which Granlund completed in bronze. His participation and pleasure in the full process often prompted new ideas for additional sculptures.

Large figure models were begun in clay, while smaller figures were carved in wax. Likely begun in wax, The Bethesda Angel Model sculpture was created in 1968, finished in his signature material of bronze. The gospel of John described an angel as coming down at certain times to bless the Pool of Bethesda through moving its waters, which imbued the water with healing powers. This sculpture depicts the moment the angel descends down to affect the water. The many folds in the angel’s gown and the corrugated texture throughout the sculpture all work to provide rhythm indicative of the figure’s movement through space. The singularity of color and tension present in the bent back and limbs provide an essence of form that can be appreciated in the context of the story or simply in aesthetic delight. The Bethesda Angel Model represents the engaging style for which Granlund is known.

In speaking about art, Granlund believed that objects should not be examined, rather that the viewer should examine oneself in front of the object. His public sculptures are located throughout Minnesota including the State Capitol, Gustavus Adolphus College, the Mayo Clinic, St. Olaf College in Northfield, and St. Joseph’s hospital in Mankato. In addition, artworks by Granlund can be found at Hiro Fine Art.

Paul Granlund Bethesda Angel Sculpture Bronze