Born in Salt Lake City just weeks before the passing of his notable grandfather, Brigham Young, Mahonri Young (1877-1957) was a versatile artist, regarded as one of the greatest American sculptors of his time.
A product of the no-nonsense settlers of the West, Mahonri felt that great art should reflect real life. Throughout his career, he celebrated everyday men and women engaged in the arena of life—people building, digging, selling, herding, competing, fighting, planting, and harvesting. With a sympathy borne of his own experiences, Mahonri saw these striving individuals as enduring symbols of human capability and aspiration.
For Mahonri, to live was to work, to be doing. He was tirelessly committed to his own labor as an artist. He had sacrificed to fund his art training—first in Salt Lake City, then in New York City (1899) and finally in Paris (1901-05). He devoted himself to honing his artistic gifts and learning the nuances of various media: sculpture, drawing, printmaking, and painting. Mahonri never left home without a sketchbook in hand; his thousands of sketches underscore his commitment to mastering his art and capturing the movement and labor of life.
Mahonri’s works were collected by the most prestigious art museums in the nation, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Young family’s donation of over 7,000 of Mahonri’s works to Brigham Young University was a major foundation for the Museum of Art’s collection, and evidences his commitment to capturing humankind engaged in life—its sorrows, struggles, triumphs, and beauty.