Albín Polášek was born in Frenštát, Moravia (now Czech Republic). He immigrated to the United States at age 22 and became an American citizen in 1910.
In 1909, Polášek won the Rome Prize competition; in 1913, he received honorable mention at the Paris Salon for The Sower and in 1915, he took the Widener Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for his sculpture Aspiration. At age 37, he was invited to head the sculpture department at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he remained for nearly thirty years. In early 1927, Albín Polášek was elected an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design; this honorary degree is reserved for America’s top painters, sculptors, printmakers and architects.
Albín Polášek created more than four hundred works during his career. Many can be seen in Chicago: The Spirit of Music in Grant Park right next to the Art Institute of Chicago, The Blanik Knight – Thomas Garrigue Masaryk Memorial (1927) at the campus of the University of Chicago, and The Pilgrim and The Mother (1941) in the Bohemian National Cemetery. Several of his best known works can also be found in the Czech Republic, including the President Woodrow Wilson Memorial (1928), Radegast (1929), and Sts. Cyril and Methodius (1929).