Gold Prospector

Gold Prospector
Max Kalish
1891-1945
Acquisition Number: 63.49
Medium: Bronze
Size: 7 3/8" x 6" x 4"
Date: n.d.

Kalish’s depiction of a gold prospector is unusual and different from many other depictions. In this depiction, the prospector looks like a man who has the weight of the world on his shoulders and is worn from years of work. While this man is worn out, many other depictions in statuary and art show gold prospectors actively digging and moving for gold. These men tend to be panning in the streams or walking to their plots to begin to dig. They look like rugged frontiersman, not defeated and broken down. In general, they look like they are all going to “strike it rich.” Kalish’s depiction looks more like the reality that men faced when they realized that none of them would ever find that nugget. Many of these men would eventually end up giving up or in debt. In reality, those who did gain a lifetime of fortune were not in the gold fields panning, but merchants selling tools and supplies to the prospecting men, such as Levi Strauss and Studebaker Wheelbarrows (and eventually cars). Max Kalish, was born Max Kalichik in Valozin, Lithuania, son of Joel and Hannah (Levinson) Kalichik in 1891. He immigrated with his family to Cleveland in 1898. Kalish studied with Herman Matzen at the Cleveland School of Art, with Herbert Adams at the National Academy of Design (his roommate was Alex Warshawsky), and in the studios of Alexander Stirling Calder. In 1912 he went to Europe to study, exhibiting at the Paris Salon of 1913. Kalish returned to the U.S. via San Francisco, where he was a sculptor for the Pan-Pacific Exposition. Returning to Cleveland in 1915 he tried and abandoned dental school, yet while he was in dental school he gained a mastery of body structure. From 1916-19, he was in the Army, assisting reconstructive work on war-mutilated soldiers. One of his best known works is a statue of Abraham Lincoln created in 1932 which was installed at the Cleveland School Administration Building. Upon his death Cleveland City Council enacted a tribute and the Cleveland Museum of Art gave a memorial exhibition of his work jointly, with the paintings of Alex Warshawsky. He married Alice Neuman in 1927. They had two children, Richard and James. Kalish died in New York City in 1945 and was buried in Cleveland's Mayfield Cemetery.