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Gordon, Willy


GORDON, WILLY (1918–2003), sculptor. Gordon was born in Latvia, but at the age of five was taken to Sweden where his father was cantor at the Malmo synagogue. An infant prodigy, he began his art studies in Malmo at the age of 10 and exhibited when he was 12 years old. At the age of 14 he decided to concentrate on sculpture and studied with William Zadig, a distinguished Swedish Jewish sculptor and teacher. Awarded a travel scholarship, Gordon returned to his birthplace in Latvia, where he spent six months studying the Orthodox Jewish way of life. A further scholarship enabled him to study at the Swedish Royal Academy of Art for seven years. In 1943 the purchase by the late Prince Eugene of his "Head of a Jewish Child" brought Gordon into public prominence. The extermination of members of his family in Eastern Europe during World War ii led him to concentrate on Jewish subjects, the first being his bronze statue "Flight with Torah," copies of which are in the Karlstadt Museum and the Histadrut Building in Israel. In 1947, Gordon moved to Paris and studied under the famous Russian-Jewish sculptor Ossip *Zadkine. At the end of that year he was commissioned to create the Jewish Martyrs' monument for the Malmo Jewish community. A number of other important public commissions followed, including one from the Swedish Labor Party. In 1950, Gordon paid his first visit to Israel and held exhibitions of his work in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. He completed a series of portrait busts of leading Israel personalities, including the then Speaker of the Knesset Joseph *Sprinzak which was presented to the Knesset by the Swedish Friends of Israel. Returning to Stockholm, Gordon consolidated his position as one of the country's leading monumental sculptors. He regularly holds exhibitions in Sweden, Europe, Israel, and the United States and is represented in leading museums in Sweden and Israel.

[Charles Samuel Spencer]

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