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Sculptor Robert Graham dies

Artist was married to Anjelica Huston

Sculptor Robert Graham, whose massive bronze works mark civic monuments across America, including the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, has died at 70.

Graham, who had been ailing, died Saturday at the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital with his family at his side, including his wife, Academy Award-winning actress Anjelica Huston, the governor’s office confirmed.

“Robert was an amazing sculptor who forever shaped the presence of sculpture art throughout California and the world. His work was truly influential and he will forever remain an icon in this state,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement. He said he and his wife, Maria Shriver, were deeply saddened by Graham’s death.

In Washington, Graham’s bronze sculptures mark the Roosevelt memorial, where bronze panels symbolize the 54 social programs that were initiated under the president’s New Deal. Graham also created the life-size, bronze figure of President Roosevelt in his wheelchair at the entrance of the memorial.

In Detroit, Graham’s Joe Louis Memorial honors the boxer with a 24-foot bronze monument in the shape of a massive fist and forearm suspended from a pyramid structure.

His 18-foot monument to jazz great Charlie Parker, depicting the musician’s head above the words “Bird Lives,” is in Kansas City, Mo.

In New York City’s Central Park, Graham’s Duke Ellington Memorial stands 30 feet high, with three columns topped with the muses holding up an 8-foot figure of the musician next to a piano.

Graham designed a number of prominent works in Los Angeles, including the “Great Bronze Doors” of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The 25-ton entryway was completed over 5 years by about 150 artists.

Another work in Los Angeles is “Olympic Gateway,” comprising the headless figures of a musclebound man and a woman. It marks the entryway to the Memorial Coliseum, where the 1984 Olympics were held.

Earlier this month, Graham was inducted into the California Museum’s California Hall of Fame.

Graham, born in Mexico City in 1938, was educated at San Jose State College and the San Francisco Art Institute.

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