Artist Dates


Title of Work

Coral Benches


image preview

Date of Work

February 1976


35mm color slide

Identification #







James Smith Pierce collection


Stored: 211 Cupboard C, JSPS-01-OE-01


UND Art Collections Repository

Artist Bio

Born in Brooklyn, New York, James Smith Pierce received his PhD in art history from Harvard University. During his career as a professor, Pierce also became an accomplished artist, whose artworks were included in important exhibitions (including a show on land art at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC) and books on contemporary earthworks and site-specific sculpture. Pierce was also a photographer, exhibition curator, and art collector.

Additional Information

About Edward Leedskalnin:

Edward Leedskalnin was born in 1887 in Riga, Latvia, to a family of stonemasons. Little is known about his childhood. At the age of 26 he became engaged to a girl named Annie Scuffs, who broke off the engagement the day before the wedding ceremony. Heartbroken by this, he emigrated to North America in 1912. He lived in several places across the United States and Canada before contracting tuberculosis and moving to Florida for the warm climate.

While in Florida, Leedskalnin began work on a large sculpture park called the Rock Gate Park, currently known as the Coral Castle, out of coral rock. He used only hand tools and never had any assistance, primarily working at night for privacy. He moved again in 1936 after hearing about plans to build a subdivision nearby and spent the next three years transporting his sculptures. He finished erecting the final walls in 1940.

Leedskalnin became ill in 1953 and passed away, leaving the sculpture park to his nephew who would in turn sell it to a couple form Illinois. The only written records he left behind were several pamphlets he wrote on magnetism and his personal political and moral beliefs. The lack of documentation and eye witnesses has lead to speculation as to how Leedskalnin was able to move the large pieces of coral rock he used to build the park. Coral Castle was added to the National Register for Historic Places in 1984 and is currently open as a tourist attraction.

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Condition Notes

Digitally preserved 2021.