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George R. Anthonisen Sculpture Exhibition at Yale University Unites Ancient and Contemporary Themes in a Common Human Language
September 1 , 2006

Sculptureworks, Inc. has received news from George R. Anthonisen that eighteen of his sculptures will be featured in a one-person exhibition at Jonathan Edwards College Master's House, Yale University, from September through November 20.

The lifework of an accomplished Bucks County sculptor is featured in an exhibition at Yale University that is both retrospective and prophetic, a combination of classical themes and contemporary challenges.

“The Sculpture of George R. Anthonisen,” documenting the human family’s soaring achievements and dismal failures, the beauty of its image and the evil of its choosing, will be on view at the Jonathan Edwards College Master’s House of Yale University from September 1 through November 20.

Gary Haller, Becton Professor of Engineering and Applied Science and Master of Jonathan Edwards College, says “We believe that Yale students learn as much outside of the classroom as in, and much of that learning takes place in the residential colleges in the conversation between students. As college Masters, we strive to stimulate that out-of-classroom learning, and one way I do that is by mounting small exhibitions and inviting students to view and talk about them.”

On Thursday, September 14, at 4 pm, Lisa Tremper Hanover, Director of the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, will discuss Anthonisen’s work. Her talk will be followed by an opening reception from 5 to 7 pm.

John Zarobell, Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture before 1900, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum, will talk about Anthonisen and his work the following month, on October 12 at 4 pm. In an essay for the exhibition catalogue, Zarobell writes “The artist seems to say that art exists to make the world more beautiful, that it tests our capacities for thinking and feeling, and that, most importantly, it challenges us to empathize with a world that exists around us, with people who have experienced sufferings and joys we will never know. Anthonisen’s art is to make people look at each other and to see themselves.”

Eighteen sculptures will be displayed, from Anthonisen’s earliest work of 40 years ago to one of his most recent creations, which reflects a hopeful perspective on the inherent qualities of the human family that influence the young and sustain the old.

Anthonisen, who turned 70 this summer, has chronicled the history of humanity from its creation through wars, the Civil Rights movement, and a contemporary wedding that depicts the assimilation of many races, lifestyles, and attitudes. The pieces are similar in their classical style but divergent in their message. “I Set Before You This Day,” for example, illustrates the difficult choices communities faced during the Holocaust, while “Game Over” foresees the current drug crisis in professional sports. Several pieces, such as “Sunnyside Up” and “Meditation,” are nearly whimsical in their celebration of the natural and beautiful state of the human body.

"I had been thinking that my career was beginning to wind down,” Anthonisen recently confessed. “The exhibition at Yale is a new opening — I am dealing with getting old and getting young at the same time.”

The dichotomy is not merely an artist’s perspective, but evident in the peaks and valleys of human history that are depicted in his work. “We hear that the human family is falling apart,” Anthonisen says. “We know the pressures of our time and of history. Our reactions are an accumulative process, much like my sculptures. Even in the most dire circumstance there is hope.”

Anthonisen's public works are in the permanent collections of the U.S. Capitol, Hall of Columns; the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland; New York's Carnegie Hall; the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, Louisville, KY; the James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA; the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA; the Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia, PA; the Academy of Music in Lancaster; and more than two dozen other sites.

Above: "Generations" by George R. Anthonisen. Photograph by John Hoenstine.

game over
Above: "Game Over" by George R. Anthonisen. Photograph by John Hoenstine.

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