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Carl Milles Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 1989-13

Collection Scope

SERIES I: Biographical contains materials related to the life of Carl Milles and includes correspondence and legal information. Of special note is Milles’ correspondence with Tony Rosenthal and Douglas Froeb which include Milles’ thoughts on spirituality and philosophy.

SERIES II: Art Work contains documents relating to the art work of Carl Milles and includes his notes on his works, lists of holdings of his work at Cranbrook, and a photocopied scrapbook concerning the Aloe Memorial Plaza.

SERIES III: Publications contains publications and some clippings about Carl Milles as well as catalogs of exhibitions. Of special note are an unknown magazine clipping and an article by Luc Willink concerning Cranbrook Foundation and George Gough Booth.

SERIES IV: Events includes documents relating to events in Milles’ life including his seventieth birthday celebration and his informal speech given at Kingswood School.

SERIES V: Realia consists of a pouch belonging to Carl Milles. It is not known at this time what the pouch was used for.

Dates

  • 1917 - 2000
  • Majority of material found within 1929 - 1945

Creator

Access

Access to the collection is unrestricted.

Use

Copyright to this collection is held by the Cranbrook Educational Community, the Missouri Historical Society and the Archives of American Art. Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.

History

Carl Emil Wilhelm Anderson was born 23 June 1875 at Orby in Lagga near Upsala, Sweden. He was the eldest son and second child of Lt. Emil (Mille, hence Milles’ adopted name) Anderson and his wife, Walborg Tissel. Milles lived at a boarding house in Stockholm while attending the Jacobskala (1885-1892). When he left school he was apprenticed to a cabinet maker/wood worker and attended night classes (1892-1897) in woodwork, and later in carving and modeling. After this period of work-study, he attended the technical school full time and was awarded a prize of 200 kroner from the Swedish Arts and Crafts Society. He then accepted a position to help manage a school of Swedish gymnastics in Santiago, Chile. However, upon reaching Paris on his way to Marseilles (en route) to South America he changed his plans.

Milles remained in Paris until 1904, attempting to support himself with work jobbed out by master cabinetmakers, while continuing to teach himself modeling and trying to establish professional recognition as a sculptor. In 1899 he was admitted to the Salon for the first time. In 1902, his maquette for the Sten Sture monument at Upsala University received an initial fourth prize, but a popular vote by the students awarded it a first, and it was the design eventually chosen, establishing his Swedish reputation. Disagreements and lack of funds delayed the completion of the monument until 1925. Between 1903-1904 he traveled in various parts of Western Europe and in 1905 Milles married painter Olga Granner. From 1906-1908 he suffered a cycle of ill health and short recoveries. In spite of these setbacks, in 1908, he began to build a home at Hersud, Lidingo, near Stockholm.

In 1914, a major group of his works at the Baltic exposition in Malmo, Sweden garnered favorable attention from European critics, however, World War I interfered with further building his reputation on the continent. Feeling that his earlier works did not meet his new standards, Milles destroyed most of the work in his Lidingo studio in 1917.

By 1920, he had become Professor of Modeling at the Royal Academy of Art, Stockholm. His newest works were given a prominent place at the Tercentenary Exhibition, Stockholm. A large fountain project at Holmberg was completed in the same year (1923). The occasion of his 50th birthday was celebrated in the Swedish press: he had become the pre-eminent sculptor in Sweden. However, his increasing simplification of form and daring with subject matter also brought with it increasing adverse criticism in his home country.

An exhibition at London’s Tate Gallery (1926-1927) was his first contact with the English-speaking world. In 1931, after two trips to the United States, Milles decided to accept the invitation of George Gough Booth (1869-1949) to live and work under the auspices of the Cranbrook Foundation in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He worked as head of the Department of Sculpture, Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1931-1951. His first comprehensive showing was at the City Art Museum of St. Louis, Missouri followed by exhibitions in Detroit, MI, Cleveland, OH, and Brooklyn, NY. By 1932 he had settled permanently at Cranbrook and in 1934, the Cranbrook Foundation acquired a comprehensive collection of his work. In 1935, he received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Yale University (New Haven, Conn.).

He continued to win awards, high praise, and many large (usually fountain arrangements) commissions. In 1945, he and Olga became U.S. citizens.

After World War II, between 1947-1950, he and Olga visited and worked in Sweden, and he further developed his estate at Lidingo. In 1950 the American Academy in Rome invited him to use their facilities, he worked there almost full-time after his retirement from Cranbrook in 1952. He died at his home in Lidingo, Sweden on 19 Sept 1955.

Extent

.6 Linear Feet (2 MS)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Carl Emil Wilhelm Anderson was a prolific Swedish sculptor who worked as head of the Department of Sculpture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1931-1951. He began his career in woodwork while trying to establish professional recognition as a sculptor. In 1905 Milles married painter Olga Granner and in 1908, he began to build a home at Hersud, Lidingo, near Stockholm. By 1920, he had become Professor of Modeling at the Royal Academy of Art, Stockholm, and subsequently become the pre-eminent sculptor in Sweden. In 1931, after two trips to the United States, Milles decided to accept the invitation of George Gough Booth (1869-1949) to live and work under the auspices of the Cranbrook Foundation in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, who acquire by 1934 a comprehensive collection of his work. He continued to win awards, high praise, and many large (usually fountain arrangements) commissions. He retired from Cranbrook in 1952, and died at his home in Lidingo, Sweden on September 19, 1955. This collection was compiled from various sources and includes correspondence and legal information related to the life of Carl Milles; documents relating to his art work; publications and clippings about Carl Milles; as well as catalogs of exhibitions, documents related to events in Milles’ life and his informal speech given at Kingswood School.

Arrangement

The collection was compiled from various sources and is artificially arranged in five series: Biographical (box 1); Art Work (box 1); Publications (boxes 1-2); Events (box 2); and Realia (box 2).

The documents in the folders are organized chronologically and\or alphabetically.

Additional Access

An index to the collection is available.

Acquisition

Transferred to the Archives from the Cranbrook Academy of Art Jul-Aug 1989. Photocopied material and correspondence regarding the Aloe Plaza fountain commission was a gift of the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, Missouri, October 1987.

Related Materials

George Gough Booth Papers (1981-01)

Kate Thompson Bromley Papers (1981-04)

Cranbrook Academy of Art Records (1998-05)

Cranbrook Foundation Records: Office Files (1981-05)

Hillis Arnold Papers (2005-09)

William Gehron Papers (2003-08)

Marguerite Kimball Papers (1991-03)

Carl and Olga Milles Papers, Archives of American Art-The Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts (Microfilm)

Processing History

Gregg T. Trendowski, 1989. Re-processed and updated: Jill Griffiths, 2004.

Creator

Title
Guide to the Carl Milles Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Gregg T. Trendowski
Date
1989
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Edition statement
Resource record created by Laura MacNewman.

Revision Statements

  • 2004: Re-processed and updated: Jill Griffiths.

Repository Details

Part of the Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Repository

Contact:
39221 Woodward Ave.
P.O. Box 801
Bloomfield Hills MI 48303 US