Robert “Bob“ Mangold, a loving and dedicated husband and father, and one of the most renowned sculptors in Colorado, has died at the age of 92. He passed away on August 13 in Hospice near his Denver home. In 2022, he was preceded in death by Peggy, his wife of 67 years. He is survived by his daughters, Lisa Mangold-White and Mickey Mangold, her husband, Andy Herb, and by Lisa’s daughter Zella Mäkelä, all of whom reside in Colorado.
Robert was born in Huntingburg, Indiana on November 28, 1930, to Mazo Cato and Ernest Mangold. They raised their six children during the Great Depression and Robert, a middle child, necessarily began working at an early age. “I got old too young,” he affirmed to his daughter, “because I needed to take care of others.” As a young man, the only way to afford the higher education he yearned for was to get the GI Bill. In 1949, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, where he was quickly promoted to Staff Seargent and sent to Germany as a radio communications expert.
While in the military, Robert was given a career aptitude test. He scored highest in the categories of furniture maker and artist, and decided to pursue art. He enrolled in Indiana University and began working in metal, teaching himself to weld, with help from a campus handyman. While in school, he met his wife and love of his life, Peggy Burks, and they married in 1955. They had the first of their two daughters, Lisa, in 1958 and Robert graduated with his Master of Fine Arts in 1960.
Robert was fascinated with natural systems and would often explain that it was the majestic Indiana forests — and lying on his back beneath the trees as a boy — that fostered his love of those systems and fueled his fascination with space, time, and motion, which ultimately led him toward his large abstract kinetic and implied kinetic sculptures. As a graduate student, Mangold was greatly influenced by George Rickey, who was an associate professor at IU during his time there. He also studied under Albert Elson, Henry Hope, and Robert Laurent. When Laurent took a sabbatical in 1959, Mangold was asked to teach Laurent’s classes, which proved to be the beginning of his many decades-long teaching career. He was as passionate about fostering his students as he was about making art.
In 1960, Mangold moved to Denver and soon thereafter accepted an offer to teach art classes at the University of Denver from the renowned painter Vance Kirkland who was then the head of the DU Art Department. In 1964, Peggy and Robert had their second daughter, Mickey. That same year, Mangold decided to leave DU to focus on his sculpture career and his active role in the Denver art scene. The next year he was given the opportunity to start the Fine Arts Program at Metropolitan State College of Denver and taught there until his retirement from teaching in 1995. Robert made and sold sculpture throughout his teaching career. After his retirement from teaching, he continued to create and sell his art well into his 80s.
From the time they first came to Colorado, the Mangolds were intensely involved in nurturing the contemporary art scene. The couple emerged as “influencers” during that era.
In 1977, Robert was a founding member of the sculptural group “Form,” a consortium of sculptors showing large-scale sculptures across the plains and the mountain west. He was also among the founders of Friends of Contemporary Art (the forerunner to the modern and contemporary department at the Denver Art Museum) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. In 1980, he and Peggy opened Artyard, which was a highly regarded indoor/outdoor space that combined Robert’s studio with Denver’s first outdoor gallery for large and monumental sculpture. Robert was also a long-time member of the Executive Board of the International Sculpture Center, which was working to advance the creation and understanding of contemporary sculpture. His involvement with the ISC put him among the dominant names in late 20th-century abstract sculptors.
Robert’s artwork is in numerous private, corporate, and public collections across the US and the world. His work has been displayed in the White House Rose Garden, Spain, and Mexico, as well as Japan, where his work is in the permanent outdoor collection at the Hakone Open-Air Museum and he was awarded the Superior Prize at the prestigious Henry Moore Grand Prize Exhibition in 1989. Locally, his work is prominently displayed in Denver’s Civic Center Park, Auraria Campus, and many other locations, and included in the collections of the Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities, Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Outdoor Arts, the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, and the Loveland Art Museum.
Robert’s legacy is in his art, which is displayed across the globe, and in the memories of his family, students, art collectors, and countless others whose lives he touched.
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