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Dewitt, Maj. Roscoe P. | Dlugosz, T/4 Louis F. | Doane, Gilbert Harry

Dlugosz, T/4 Louis F.  

Sergeant, U.S. Army, Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA)

Louis F. Dlugosz, a Polish-American sculptor, was born in 1915 in Lackawanna, New York. At the age of 19 he began working at Bethlehem Steel and during this time he perfected his “pretzel-bending” sculptural style. Dlugosz’s new technique was “based on the principle that clay when baked will support itself. The result was sculpture with an open rather than solid interior, skeletal-like yet with fleshed-out strips of unique character.”[1] By early 1940, Dlugosz’s sculpture won first prize at the Annual Exhibition by Artists of Western New York at the Albright Art Gallery and earned him a one-man exhibition at the Nierendorf Gallery in New York. Two sculptures from the Nierendorf exhibition were purchased by the Museum of Modern Art and Dlugosz’s work was highly praised by critics.

Ironically, in late 1940 at the age of twenty-four, and at the height of his art career, Dlugosz’s enlistment into the army was due to a practical joke. He explained to a reporter for the Buffalo Evening News in 1941, “some of the fellows in the neighborhood said they were going to join the Army, and urged me to join too so we could all go to camp together. I enlisted and found out later that they didn’t.”[2] During the war Dlugosz was stationed in Medmenham, Buckinghamshire, England as part of a covert operation designing scale models of Normandy beaches in preparation for D-Day. Directly following the war he served with the MFAA to assess damage to monuments in Europe, among which was the art museum in Darmstadt, Germany.[3]

After his discharge from military service on November 3, 1945 Dlugosz remained in Europe until 1947, settling in Paris where he studied art and exhibited his sculpture Head of Christ at the Louvre. Upon his return to New York, he studied at the Buffalo Art Institute for three years and returned to his job at Bethlehem Steel where he remained until his retirement. His popularity as an artist had greatly diminished during the years he had spent abroad and, as a result, he continued to sculpt in relative obscurity. His sculpture resides in various private collections and museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art, Smith College Museum, Syracuse Museum of Art and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Dlugosz died in 2002 while visiting Poland and is buried there. His life and art have been documented by producers Andrew Golebiowski and Vincenzo Mistretta in their film “Clay Made Me Something: The Art of Being Louis Dlugosz” (2004).

[1] Jim Bisco, “Steelworker Sculptor: The Pretzeled Career of Lackawanna’s Louis Dlugosz,” Western New York Heritage, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Fall 2005): 24.
[2] Ibid, 27.
[3] Ibid, 27.


Copyrighted by Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art