A Souvenir of the Minnesota State Fair, 1910 (Butter Roosevelt)
In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt visited the Minnesota State Fair. To commemorate the visit, the sculptor John Karl Daniels created a life-size butter sculpture of the former President. Looking at Daniel’s body of work today, it seems monotonous in its depictions of heroic white men, dead and alive. The butter sculpture of Roosevelt sculpture is particularly heavy-handed, depicting the President in full safari gear with his foot on the head of a lion we assume he has recently killed. Today, the work seems almost cartoonish in its depiction of a violent, imperialist white masculinity. Yet, when we imagine this form rendered in the fatty medium of refrigerated butter, it veers toward the absurd. While it exists today as only a single photograph, this object served as the point of departure for my project at Franconia Sculpture Park.
This project was created through the Open Studio Fellowship at Franconia Sculpture Park, in June and July of 2018. Special thanks to all of the Franconia staff and fellow artists who helped me make this project a reality.
A Souvenir of the Minnesota State Fair, 1910 (Butter Roosevelt), as installed at Franconia Sculpture Park. Fiberglass-reinforced concrete and steel. Overall dimensions: 48' 6" wide, 19' 4" deep, 7' 10" tall.
Installation view at Franconia Sculpture Park.
View of leg and lion element. 6’ 6” x 6’ x 5’.
View of Roosevelt’s head. 6’ x 8’ x 5’.
View of torso. 7’ 10” x 6’ x 5’.
The only existing photograph of John Karl Daniels’ butter sculpture of Roosevelt. Image via Wikipedia.
Clay model of the sculpture, during 3D scanning process. This model was combined with 3D scans of sculptures of Roosevelt found online to create the completed 3D model.
In progress documentation of foam mold with the first layer of concrete applied. These molds were carved using a CNC router and shipped to Franconia to produce the castings.
In progress documentation, showing construction of armatures inside the castings.
Image of Roosevelt’s head being transported for installation.