Skip to main content

Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Leonid Molodozhanyn / Leo Mol (1915–2009)

Winnipeg-based sculptor, ceramicist and stained-glass designer born in Polonne, Ukraine. He was taught to model in clay by his father, a potter, but at 15, began learning his craft as a sculptor, firstly with Wilhelm Frass in Vienna and then Fritz Klimsch in Berlin. Molodozhanyn attended the Leningrad Academy of Arts, 1936–40, but at the outbreak of war with Germany was conscripted. He married in 1943 and in 1945 he and his wife fled, firstly to Holland and then, in 1948, to Canada. It was at this point that he changed his name to Leo Mol. He had his first exhibition (ceramics) in Winnipeg, but afterwards established a reputation as a portrait sculptor, using a modified lost wax process. He won an international competition for a memorial to the Ukrainian poet and artist, Taras Shevchenko, for Washington DC (unveiled 1964), with replicas following for Buenos Aires, Argentina (1971), and Prudentópolis, Brazil (1989); in 2000, he presented a fourth cast to St Petersburg. Other public statues include Queen Elizabeth II, 1970, Winnipeg; John Diefenbaker, 1986, Ottawa; and St Volodymyr, 1987, Holland Park Avenue, London. In 1992, the Leo Mol sculpture studio and garden was established in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg (CPRA Award of Excellence for Innovation in 1995). In 2002, his bronze Lumberjacks (1990) was featured on a Canadian postage stamp. Mol received honorary doctorates from the universities of Winnipeg, Alberta and Manitoba; was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada (1989); and was awarded the Order of Manitoba and made an honorary academician of the Canadian Portrait Academy (both 2002). He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the Allied Artists of America, and a one-time president of the Manitoba Society of Artists and the Sculptors’ Society of Canada.

Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 192–94; Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine (updated 2014); A. Mayes, ‘Accomplished Artist: Leo Mol was Manitoba’s best-known and most honoured sculptor’, 7 July 2009, Winnipeg Free PressWikipedia

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Molodozhanyn, Leonid (aka Leo Mol)

Leo Mol in his studio in Winnipeg, Canada
(photo: public domain)