The Sculpture of George R. Anthonisen
The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation Sculpture Terrace at the Berman Museum of Art is home to a selection of bronze sculptures by internationally celebrated artist George R. Anthonisen.
The sculptures are part of a larger collection of sculpture, maquettes, frescoes and archival materials bequeathed to the museum by the artist and his wife, Ellen. Although Ellen and George did not graduate from Ursinus, they say that ever since their association with the Museum in 1996 and George's featured exhibition, The Compassionate Spirit: Sculpture and Fresco by George R. Anthonisen, they have watched the museum evolve into one of the finest small museums in the area. "We believe in the Berman Museum of Art passionately; it is an institution that, in the past and now with its expansion and new intensity, continues to be a vital resource for discovery and investigation,” they say. “We are proud to be associated with the Museum program and are committed to the educational mission that has seen more than 750,000 visitors since its opening in 1989."
Anthonisen's sculpture Promise/Anthem (1998), commissioned by the leadership of the Ursinus War Years Classes, focuses on student life at Ursinus during the 1940s set in the context of a larger world involved in the conflicts of World War II. Museum Director Lisa Hanover says "it is a sculpture that will be a destination for our campus community and external visitors and acknowledged by the larger art community for its aesthetic, compositional and sculptural values. Anthonisen sculptures add an important figurative dimension to the Museum’s collection of more than 50 contemporary large scale sculptures sited throughout the campus."
John Zarobell, former Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture before 1900,The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum, states "Anthonisen's works manifest an aspect of modern sculpture that has long been little valued or understood by historians of art, namely humanist sculpture. Humanism in twentieth century sculpture refers to the pairing of a positive conception of the impact of human civilizations — and particularly European civilization —and a figurative tendency that seeks to illuminate human life in all its beauty, fragility and diversity." Zarobell adds that "Anthonisen's art is to make people look at each other and see themselves."
Anthonisen commemorates the Holocaust and addresses human disaster with I Set Before You This Day (1979-1987). An edition of this work is on the sculpture terrace. A group of nine figures appear to be divided in their responses to the horrors that surround them, underlining a sense of isolation and distress. Also included are editions of Creation (1981); Caryatid (1992-1994); Dialogue (2003-2004), Heroic Torso (1967-1969), Meditation (1994-1995), Murder/Cain and Abel (1975-1976) and Rising (2004-2005).
Born in Boston in 1936, Anthonisen moved to Bucks County in 1971, where he lives with his wife, Ellen. Anthonisen earned his B.A. from the University of Vermont and studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York. Additionally, he attended Dartmouth College Medical School to study human anatomy.
His public works in permanent collections are considerably longer than the following:
U. S. Capitol, Capitol Visitors Center, Washington, DC; World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland; New York’s Carnegie Hall; Philadephia's Please Touch Museum and Woodmere Art Museum; James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.; Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia; Center for Interfaith Relations, Louisville, Kentucky and more than two dozen other sites.
To learn more about Anthonisen, refer to his website: www.ganthonisen.com