Vincent Glinsky

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Vincent Glinsky belongs to the tradition of "direct carvers" (taille direct) who carved directly into the medium (stone or wood) without resort to preliminary drafts or intermediary steps. He also worked extensively in terra cotta, plaster, bronze, watercolor and drawings. His work has been shown at The Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery, Albright Knox, Chicago Institute of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, National Academy of Design, Dallas Museum, Detroit Institute of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum, and many more museums and galleries, both in the United States and abroad.

Glinsky was born in Russia on December 18, 1895 and emigrated to America just before World War I.  Arriving in New York City he was immediately accepted to the inaugural class of the Beaux Arts Institute of Design, the premiere American art and architecture training institute of its time. He studied there between 1916 and 1920 and subsequently served on the faculty of B.A.I.D.  After studying at Columbia University's School of Architecture (1925-26), Glinsky moved into the field of architectural sculpture, working with Albert Kahn ("the architect of Detroit"), among others. His most noted works in this area are the entranceway reliefs, bronze elevator doors, and letterbox for New York's historic Fred F. French Building (constructed in 1927, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004), and the aluminum panels for the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, which illustrate the history of medicine (after the sculptor's death these panels were enlarged and are now displayed in the lobby of N.I.H).

In 1927 Glinsky left New York to live in Europe for two years, settling first in Rome. He later moved to Paris, where he was part of L'Ecole de Paris, a group of artists which included sculptors such as Calder, Giacometti, and Lifschitz, and painters such as Picasso, Dufy, and Roualt.  In Paris Glinsky had a one-man show at the Galerie Zak in February of 1929 and followed that with two group shows in Paris, one at Zak and another at the Salon des Tuileries in 1930. In 1932 he was part of the celebrated Parisian show, "Artistes Americains de Paris," at the Galerie de la Renaissance. 

On his return to New York, Glinsky began to exhibit widely.  A solo show at The Fifty-Sixth St. Gallery was followed by a yearly string of important showings at such prestigious venues as The Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Architectural League, Art Institute of Chicago, National Gallery of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. In 1935 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the following year the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts awarded him the Widener Gold Medal for The Awakening.

The young Vincent Glinsky, sculptor, in Rome, 1920s

Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA)
photo of Vincent Glinsky, taken by Andrew Herman. (Federal Art Project, Photographic Division collection, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution).

During the height of the Depression, Glinsky won competitions sponsored by the Treasury Department's Fine Arts Section, to furnish United States Post Offices with artwork. At the 1939-40 New York World's Fair Glinsky  presented live sculpture demonstrations sponsored by the WPA (written up in The New York Post), and exhibited two WPA pieces.  

In what was to become a major legacy, Glinsky joined with 19 other artists in New York to found the Sculptors Guild in 1936. The Sculptors Guild was conceived as an advocacy and exhibiting organization devoted to furthering the sculptural arts. Its 1937 inaugural show included works by Glinsky, Paul Manship, Chaim Gross, Jose de Creeft, William Zorach, and others. Glinsky served as Executive Secretary between 1955-60, and stayed active in the organization until his death. Over the years Glinsky took on active roles in other important art organizations, including Vice-President of the Architectural League of NY (1956-58), Fellow of the National Sculpture Society, Academician of the National Academy of Design, and Vice-President of the Audubon Artists' Society.

When the U.S. was drawn into WWII Glinsky volunteered for the war effort, serving as a draftsman at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (1943-46). A government publication praised him for his attentive and detailed work, and his invaluable translations in four languages (English, French, Italian, and Russian). Later Glinsky was chosen to design the U.S. Naval Expeditionary medal. In 1946 he received a commission from Brookgreen Gardens (SC) to replicate his classic nude, "Awakening." The over-life-sized marble was hand-pointed and carved by Glinsky, the painstaking process being preserved in a set of remarkable photographs. Meanwhile, Glinsky continued to collect honors, among them, the American Academy of Arts and Letters and National Institute of Arts and Letters Grant in 1945; the The Pennsylvania Academy's Herbert M. Howe Memorial Prize in 1948; First Prize at the Adelphi College Trophy Competition, 1956; and the National Arts Club's Medal of Honor in 1958.

Portraiture was always a part of Glinsky's output, and included busts of celebrities such as actor E.G. Marshall and historian Will Durant, and political figures such as Postmaster General James A. Farley and Eleanor Roosevelt. His portrait of aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright was installed in the N.Y.U. Hall of Fame for Great Americans in 1967.

In the 1960s and 70s more honors followed: from the National Sculpture Society, 1967, 1968, 1972; Audubon Artists, 1967; and the National Academy of Design, 1970. All Faiths' Memorial Tower commissioned Glinsky to create a spiritual work for their columbarium, for which he produced "The Waters of Life," and St. Paul's College in Washington D.C. commissioned an over-life-size piece for their garden, for which Glinsky sculpted the stirring limestone work, "Our Lady of Lourdes." His last commission, from the Tupperware Company, was a gigantic seal carved from carrara marble, and placed at the center of an outdoor fountain at the company's headquarters in Florida.

Vincent Glinsky sculpts the bust of Eleanor Roosevelt. It is in the collection of the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Copies were owned by Lyndon Johnson and the Wiltwyck School (founded by Mrs. Roosevelt)

As his reputation grew, so did his following, and throughout his distinguished career Glinsky was sought out as a master teacher.  He served on the faculties of the Beaux Art Institute of Design (1931-32, 1940-41), Brooklyn College (1949-55), Columbia University (1957-61), and New York University (1950-75), and taught privately in his W.16th St. Studio in Manhattan. At NYU in particular, Glinsky was revered as a teacher and was included in the NYU publication, Artists as Teachers, and the Classes they Teach in Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture. After his death on March 19, 1975, his students moved to honor his memory by initiating the Vincent Glinsky Memorial Lecture, an annual event at NYU. The series ran for 12 years beginning in 1982, and featured noted art historians, critics, and artists. The inaugural lecture was given by Kirk Varnedoe, Curator of the Museum of Modern Art. Other speakers in the series included Hilton Kramer, Richard McDermott Miller, Joseph Veach Noble, Lewis Sharp, Richard Brilliant, Barbara Lekberg, Judd Tully, Marcel Jovine, Greg Wyatt, and Louis Trakis.

Vincent Glinsky was also respected and beloved by other artists. During his lifetime his colleagues asked him to serve as a juror for over 50 exhibitions and competitions. After his passing, they established the Vincent Glinsky Memorial Award, to be given in his memory by the Audubon Artists. The Sculptors Guild's 1976 Lever House exhibition was given in honor of his memory, and the National Sculpture Society gave an award in hiAlong with his wife, sculptor Cleo Hartwig, Glinsky was always remembered for his active role in arts advocacy causes and presenting organizations.  

Today Glinsky is appreciated for his uncanny ability to coax sensual human forms from the most unyielding materials. His technique was truly remarkable, especially considering that he worked with hand tools--chisels, hammers, and rasps. His creations in terra cotta, plaster, and bronze are likewise noted for their technical mastery. Glinsky's son, Albert, remembers watching his father produce fleet line-drawings in just moments, his unparalleled technique spontaneously matched with his artistic vision.

For more biographical information on Vincent Glinsky, see the links below.











Vincent Glinsky

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