Sunday, November 13, 2011

Helen of California

Helen of California by deanv41
Helen of California, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.

The Armenian sculptor and bohemian San Franciscan, Haig Patagian, was commissioned by James Phelan in 1927 to create this bust of Helen Wills Moody (1905 - 1998), also known as Helen of California, the celebrated tennis superstar. She won eight Wimbeldon championships and was a respected artist in her own right, counting Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera among her friends. Rivera even used her as the model for his work in San Francisco's City Club, The Allegory of California. Upon her death at age 92, she left her alma mater, UC Berkeley, $10 million dollars to establish the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. The bust is now in the collection of the New DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park and is a solid reminder of this powerful, accomplished, and philanthropic Californian.

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