Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox Babe
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox Babe, side
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue OxBabe back
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox Babe, artist's signature
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox Babe, bottom
Collection Number: 
Current Location: 
Missouri Valley Room
Object Description
Artist Dates: 
1906 -1991
Artist Nationality: 
Object Type: 
This is a carved wooden sculpture of folktale figure Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox by local artist Cecil C. Carstensen.
9 inches
8 inches
28 inches

Cecil C. Carstensen was born in Marquette, Kansas in 1906. In 1940, he moved to Kansas City with his wife Blanche and became a part of the art community. Carstensen primarily worked in wood carving, however, woodcut printmaking was another important medium. He taught wood sculpting at the Kansas City University and was President of MidAmerica Artists Association. He wrote "Craft and Creation of Wood Sculpting" in 1971.

The Kansas City Public Library has four of Carstensen’s wood sculptures in their art collection. This sculpture of American folklore lumberjack, Paul Bunyan, is fittingly carved out of a tree trunk. The sculpture maintains the cylindrical shape of a tree trunk. Bunyan appears aghast with his mouth and eyes wide open. He has a head of stylized hair represented by rivet holes that condense near his face and expand around the back of his head. His beard, made with deep-cut narrow lines, fuse into the hide of Babe the Blue Ox beneath him. Babe's body wraps around the sculpture and his head emerges to the left of Bunyan's beard, but in lower relief than Bunyan himself. The carving technique and form of this sculpture encourage the viewer to move around it to get the full story, although it is unclear what caused Mr. Bunyan's expression.

Carstensen and Blanche’s woodcut prints were part of a Print Society of Great Kansas City Spotlight in 2013. The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph, MO has two woodcuts by Carstensen entitled "Family Unit."

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