Sunday, November 6, 2011

Artist Profile: Edward Leedskalnin

Edward Leedskalnin was born in Riga, Latvia on August 10, 1887, or perhaps January 12, 1887, as accounts differ. It seems that not much is known of Leedskalnin’s childhood in Latvia, and as little is known of how exactly he spent his time after immigrating to the U.S. His family was not rich and he received only a fourth grade education. It is known that at the age of 26, Leedskalnin was set to marry Agnes Scuffs, who was ten years his junior (wikipedia). However, on the day before the wedding, Scuffs called it off and Leedskalnin never did get married.

After immigrating to the U.S., Leedskalnin found work in lumber camps from Canada to Texas to California, before contracting tuberculosis and moving to Florida. It was in Florida that his true work began. Working alone and at night, not allowing anyone to view him whilst doing so, Leedskalnin constructed and built what he called “Rock Gate Park” and what is known today as the “Coral Castle.” Leedskalnin dedicated this monument to Agnes Scuffs, apparently the love of his life.

The interesting thing about this coral castle, and the fact which makes it worthy of sculpture and the greatest sculptors is that no one entirely knows how Leedskalnin was able to do this great thing. Over thirty years, Leedskalnin “quarried and sculpted over 1,100 short tons (997903 kg) of coral” (wikipedia). He “interlocked the stones with exacting precision, some weighing up to 30 tons, without the use of mortar” (Florida-keys…). It is said that he was sickly, from his tuberculosis, and weighed in at about 100 pounds. How was he able to accomplish all this?
Another interesting fact is that while he started the monument in 1920 in Florida City, because of the growing city, he ended up moving it and his entire home, single handedly, ten miles to Homestead, Florida, where it still stands as a tourist attraction and mystery. Leedskalnin died in 1951, from kidney infection.

It has been said that Leedskalnin knew the secrets of levitation, the secrets of magnetism and the secrets of the pyramids. The world is still unsure of how those wonders were created and we are still in awe of Leedskalnin as well. Whether or not Leedskalnin knew the secrets of the universe or not, or whether the love of Scuffs really did drive him to feats of great strength, the work Leedskalnin put into his sculptures should inspire all sculptors of today to the same amazing works.

“I have discovered the secrets of the pyramids, and have found out how the Egyptians and the ancient builders in Peru, Yucatan, and Asia, with only primitive tools, raised and set in place blocks of stone weighing many tons!” -Edward Leedskalnin

1 comment:

  1. Very good post! However, I'm not sure that what he made is sculpture. Isn't it architecture? I'm glad you posted it because it was interesting to read. That guy was very strange and the whole story surrounding him is strange.