Exposition Art Blog: Reuben Nakian - Masterpieces of Sculpture

Reuben Nakian - Masterpieces of Sculpture

Reuben Nakian ( 1897–  1986) was an American sculptor and teacher of Armenian extraction. His recurring themes are from Greek and Roman mythology. Noted works include Leda and the Swan, The Rape of Lucrece, Hecuba, and The Birth of Venus. He was also commissioned to create portraits of Roosevelt's cabinet in the 1930s.He met and befriended painters Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning in the 1930s and Marsden Hartley and Marcel Duchamp in the 1940s. Poet Frank O'Hara was the curator of a major Reuben Nakian retrospective at New York City's Museum of Modern Art in 1966 where the artist was also exhibited in 1930. In the exhibition's catalog, O'Hara noted: Nakian is unrepressed, un-neurotic, unabashed in his approach to sensuality, however tortuous his esthetic commitment, and whether his subject be death, bestiality, or Arcadian dalliance. This explicitness gives the "Nymph and Satyr" plaques a marvelous joy and ease, the "Europa" terra-cottas a voluptous dignity, and the "Leda and the Swan" drawings an almost comic abandon. Unlike most sexually oriented images in modern art, from Auguste Rodin to Andy Warhol, one finds no guilt or masochism in a Nakian. It is outgoing and athletic even in its releases and defeats: the satyr, the bull, the swan, the goat are each circumvented or absorbed by the goddess of his choice in the most choice of circumstances, that of his own choosing, like the amorous "dying" of the Elizabethans or the Metamorphoses of Ovid."Wikipedia

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