CARL MILLES (Sweden, Lagga 1875-1955 / act: USA & Sweden)

Carl Milles Carl Milles was a Swedish sculptor, best known for his fountains. He was married to artist Olga Milles (1874-1967) and brother to Ruth Milles (1873-1941) and half brother to the architect Evert Milles. Carl Milles sculpted the Poseidon statue in Gothenburg, the Gustaf Vasa statue at the Nordiska Museet, the Orfeus group outside the Stockholm Concert Hall and the Folke Filbyter sculpture in Linköping. The latter was featured on a stamp issued in 1975, commemorating the fact that he would have turned 100 years old that year.

Milles was born Carl Wilhelm Andersson, son of Lieutenant Emil "Mille" Andersson and his wife Walborg Tisell, on 23 June 1875 in Lagga, near Uppsala, Sweden. In 1897 he made what he thought would be a temporary stop in Paris on his way to Cuba, where he was to enter a merchant navy firm. However, he remained in Paris, where he studied art, working in Auguste Rodin's studio and slowly gaining recognition as a sculptor. In 1904 he and Olga moved to Munich. Two years later they settled in Sweden, buying property on Herserud Cliff on Lidingö, a large island near Stockholm. Millesgården was built there between 1906 and 1908 as the sculptor's private residence and workspace. It was turned into a foundation and donated to the Swedish people in 1936; five years after Milles had sailed for America and the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills.

In 1931, American publisher George Gough Booth brought Milles to Cranbrook Educational Community, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, to serve as his sculptor in residence. Part of Booth's arrangement with his principal artists was that they were expected to create major commissions outside the Cranbrook environment. By the time Milles left America for the last time over 20 years later he had dotted the American landscape with his works.

American artworks by Milles include the following: The Sun Singer, Robert Allerton Park, Monticello, Illinois (1929); Racine County Court House, Racine, Wisconsin (1931); Meeting of the Waters, Saint Louis, Missouri (1936-1940); Numerous works including Mermaids & Tritons Fountain (1930), Sven Hedin on a Camel (1932), Jonah and the Whale Fountain (1932) and Orpheus Fountain (1936) at Cranbrook Educational Community, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; WWJ Building, Detroit, Michigan (1936); Vision of Peace, Saint Paul City Hall & Ramsey County Courthouse, Saint Paul, Minnesota (1936); Doors of Finance Building, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1938); On a Sunday Morning, Ann Arbor, Michigan (1941); Fountain of Faith, National Memorial Gardens, Falls Church, Virginia (1952); The Sun Singer, National Memorial Gardens, Falls Church, Virginia (1952); Spirit of Transportation, Detroit Civic Center, Detroit, Michigan (1952); The Hand of God, Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, Detroit (1954); Volker Memorial Fountain, Kansas City, Missouri (1955); Triton Blowing on a Shell, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota and Pegasus and Man, Harwood Center, Dallas, Texas. Milles' sculptures sometimes offended American sensibilities, and he had a 'fig leaf' maker on retainer.

Milles and his wife returned to Sweden in 1951, and lived in Millesgården every summer until Milles' death on 19 September 1955. They spent winters in Rome, where the American Academy had supplied them with a studio. Milles and his wife, Olga, who died in 1967 in Graz, Austria, are buried in a small stone chapel, designed by Milles, at Millesgården. Because Swedish law requires burial on sacred ground, it took the assistance of the then reigning Gustaf VI Adolf to allow this resting place. The king, a friend of Milles and a keen gardener, had helped plant a garden at the site.

[Megakles Rogakos 01/2009]

BAULCH, VIVIAN M. Michigan History: Carl Milles, Cranbrook's Favorite Sculptor 06/09/1999 The Detroit News
ROGAKOS, MEGAKLES Frances Rich - La Gazelle 2010 The American College of Greece - ACG Art, Athens