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John Battenberg

First interested in making art at the age of 10, John Nelson Battenberg (1931–2012) went on to study art at the Ruskin School at Oxford University and at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of Arts). He taught at CCA and then at San Jose State University as a professor of sculpture.

Battenberg’s work is represented in many public collections, including the Oakland Museum of California, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Honolulu Museum of Art.

A gift to the Lannan Foundation, John Battenberg’s heavily textured sculpture A Swelling Is (1956) takes its name from the love letter featured in the center of the work, which begins, “Darling, I can’t tell you how much I miss you.” The cast-bronze work re-creates a scene from World War II, pairing the love letter with a pilot’s glove and pack of Turkish blend cigarettes.