Photos of Donal Hord’s iconic sculpture Aztec.

Face of iconic sculpture Aztec, presented to SDSU in 1937 by artist Donal Hord.
Face of iconic sculpture Aztec, presented to SDSU in 1937 by San Diego artist Donal Hord.

An iconic work of art can be found at San Diego State University. The diorite sculpture is considered by many to be a modernist masterpiece–some have called it one of the finest stone figures ever sculpted. Its renowned artist, Donal Hord, who lived most of his life in San Diego, referred to his creation as Aztec or The Aztec. He presented the amazing sculpture to SDSU in 1937 during a Founder’s Day celebration.

I headed over to SDSU yesterday to see the sculpture for myself and hopefully take some photos. I was struck by the quiet strength, nobility and simplicity of the work. I could have rested my eyes and mind upon the Aztec for a very long while. It touched my innermost feelings about humanity–elevating those feelings. Art done well cuts deeper than philosophy. It reaches deep inside like potent magic.

Donal Hord with Aztec, 1937, at San Diego State University. Public domain image from the collection of the Archives of American Art.
Donal Hord with Aztec, 1937, at San Diego State University. Public domain image from the collection of the Archives of American Art.
The sculpture's base, which was presented to SDSU by the graduating class of 1937, has a plaque with the title Montezuma. The artist himself called his piece the Aztec.
The sculpture’s base, which was presented to SDSU by the graduating class of 1937, has a plaque with the title Montezuma. The artist himself called his piece the Aztec.
A tranquil, bold sculpture that evokes feelings of nobility.
A tranquil, bold sculpture that evokes feelings of human nobility.
Side view of the Aztec shows gracefully folded hands and strongly planted feet.
Side view of the Aztec shows gracefully folded hands and strongly planted feet.
The diorite sculpture seems to be carved from the eternal substance of the black, star-filled cosmos. Light upon its curving surface is like gentle light on rippled water.
The diorite sculpture seems to be carved from the eternal substance of the black, star-filled cosmos. Light upon its curving surface is like gentle light on rippled water.
An expression of strength, thoughtfulness, humility. An iconic image one will not soon forget.
An expression of strength, thoughtfulness, humility. An iconic image one will not soon forget.

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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