John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum (March 25, 1867 – March 6, 1941) was an American artist and sculptor famous for creating the monumental presidents' heads at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, as well as other public works of art.
Gutzon Borglum was born in St. Charles, Idaho. At the age of seven, he moved to Nebraska, and later he graduated from Creighton Preparatory School. He was trained in Paris at the Académie Julian, where he came to know Auguste Rodin and was influenced by Rodin's impressionistic light-catching surfaces.
Carving officially began on June 23, 1923, with Borglum making the first cut. At Stone Mountain he developed sympathetic connections with the reorganized Ku Klux Klan, who were major financial backers for the monument.
His Mount Rushmore project was the brainchild of South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson. His first attempt with one of the faces was blown up after two years. Dynamite was also used to remove large areas of rock from under Washington's brow. The initial pair of presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were soon joined by Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.
In some time one of Borglum's more unusual pieces is the "Aviator" a memorial for James R. McConnell who was killed in World War I while flying for the Lafayette Escadrille. It is located on the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.