The Early Days of Mahonri Young

 In MOA Features

Guest Post by Alyssa Weyland, MOA Marketing and PR Intern

How does someone go from a bullied, outcast misfit to one of the most celebrated American sculptors of his day?

Mahonri Young (1877-1957), “Gramercy Park Brick Layers,” ink, 10 15/16 x 13 7/8 inches.Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.

Mahonri Mackintosh Young was bullied because of his name and poor performance at school. Despite his mother’s objections, after just one day of high school, he dropped out at 17 to pursue art.

Growing up on a factory in rural Utah, Mahonri developed a deep love of nature, which is reflected in his work. Of his childhood at the factory, Mahori wrote: “It was a place to dream of and regret. There were farmers and a farm; there were workmen and working women at the mill; there were animals and birds in and around the barn; and, in all directions, glorious landscapes. There was clay in the cutbank of the “Dugway.” Some of this I was early given to play with and I modeled birds and animals as any child would… When I now get homesick it is always for this part of Salt Lake Valley, for the old adobe blockhouse, the catbirds, the sunflowers, and the blue mountains forming the rich background.”

In art school, he showed he had a mind of his own. Unlike the other students, Mahonri would have a sudden spurt of energy, and then spend the rest of the class staring out the window. Mahonri believed that working was easy, but thinking was difficult.

While his contemporaries painted from still models, Mahonri was drawn to the movement of everyday life. While working for a newspaper, before photography was used for journalism, he created quick visual documentation in real time, in direct contrast to traditional academic techniques. He painted the authentic, everyday lives of ordinary people.

While he befriended many famous modern artists in Europe, Mahonri stayed true to his realist style. He set his mind to the path and unapologetically persevered.

See paintings, sketches, and sculptures by Mahonri Young this summer at the MOA! In the Arena: The Art of Mahonri Young is on display through September 21, 2019.

Recent Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search

css.phpMahonri M. Young, Right to the JawMaynard Dixon, Free Speech