Untitled (Model for Presque Isle Owls)

Still in progress on his property when he died in December 1977, this totemic sculpture of five owls was commissioned by the University of Maine—Presque Isle (whose mascot is the owl). Langlais often carved his figures out of large timbers and beams in a style reminiscent of the totems of Pacific Northwest Indians, although he acknowledged that they were simply “works standing up in the air,” not icons of any specific spiritual tradition. He aimed to maintain the integrity of the wood he acquired, rather than manipulate it beyond recognition. In Owls, he retains the massive, pillarlike quality of the timbers but also ca

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