Reuben Nakian was born to Armenian parents in the College Point neighborhood of Queens in New York City in August of 1897. He studied at the School of Arts in New York City and later with the Arts Students League in that city. He became an abstract impressionist sculptor. Apparently, he earned his living by teaching sculpture at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts and at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He lived to age 89.
Early in his career, Nakian specialized in painting portraits, but after World War II he became interested in large abstract expressionist statues that might be displayed outside. I believe that he played a role in developing a three-dimensional version of abstract expressionism in his large bronze sculptures. Many of his sculptures invoked classical themes. I do not know if that is the situation with this Golden Thighs sculpture. This one that stands here in the Josephine Ford Sculpture Garden is distinct from his Goddess with the Golden Thighs that is now displayed at the very modern and new Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
Reuben Nakian was in attendance at Yankee Stadium on September 30, 1927 when Babe Ruth hit his record-setting 60th home run. He was so impressed that he decided to design an eight-foot statue of Babe Ruth completing his swing. This is certainly one of the most iconic poses in baseball. The statue was done in clay and was displayed in New York and Baltimore. Apparently it disappeared after its display at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Sculptor: Reuben Nakian
Date of Creation: 1964
Use in 2011: Public Art or Sculpture
Website commemorating his accomplishments: http://www.nakian.org/
Photograph: Ren Farley; May 21, 2011
Description prepared: June, 2011
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