Ivan Mestrovic (1883-1962) was sculptor-in-residence and professor of sculpture at Syracuse University from 1947 to 1955. Croatian by birth, he was an advocate for the founding of Yugoslavia, but voluntarily left the country to protest Marshal Tito's Communist regime. Internationally recognized for his artistic genius, Mestrovic was considered by some to be the greatest sculptor of religious subjects since the Renaissance. He was the first living artist ever to be given a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit in 1953.
In 1946 SU Chancellor William Tolley was contacted by sculptor Malvina Hoffman who brought Mestrovic's plight to Tolley's attention. Ill and unhappy in Switzerland, Mestrovic was invited to teach at SU by Tolley in early 1947. He brought with him a number of recent works including marble and bronze sculptures and large reliefs in wood.
Set up in a studio adjacent to campus, Mestrovic taught sculpture, and figure and portrait modeling. Well-known artists George Norris, Luise Kaish, Julia Kalvaitis, Mary Lewis, Karl Karhumaa and Jim Ridlon were Mestrovic students.
This exhibition highlights Mestrovic's connection to campus: the pieces created and on display here, studios where he worked, Mestrovic exhibitions, his impact on students, and books published by SU Press.
The Syracuse University Archives also has a small collection of Ivan Mestrovic materials including photographs, correspondence, clippings, books, articles and memorabilia. The Archives holds a microfilm set of the Mestrovic Papers from the University of Notre Dame.