Title of Work
Louis Wippich 1
Date of Work
Super 8 film
Art & Design Study Collection: James Smith Pierce Film Collection
Stored: JSP.FAST.FILM BOX 2
UND Art Collections Repository
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.
About Louis Charles Wippich:
Louis Wippich was born in 1896 in Benton, Minnesota. He worked for the Great Northern Railroad for 23 years. Throughout his travels, he became enamored with the environments of the American Southwest, and these environments would help inspire the design of his later work. Wippich was an adherent of Theosophy and wrote several books on the subject. The art environment for which he would be known, The Molehill, reflects his beliefs. Wippich believed that every soul is able to become divine without the need for religious institutions.
Wippich began work on The Molehill in 1924 in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota. It started out as a sunken garden with a pond and a garden with a wooden temple in the style of Greek temples. He also began constructing massive stone piles designed to resemble mountains. He also built large granite pillars and raised terraces. The prevalence of granite in his work is owed to the fact that Sauk Rapids is surrounded by granite quarries, from which he was often able to get the incorrectly cut rocks for cheap. He also incorporated scrap rail from the railroad, as well as old train cars.
Wippich died in 1973. The property was unoccupied following his death, and some vandalism occurred. The current owners care for the site, and it is in much better condition now, although it is not open to the public.
Digitally preserved 2021.
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