“I studied all about Gauguin. He was a banker. He was a banker who – he used to paint on Sundays. And one day he hated himself for painting on Sundays.” - Anthony Quinn
Anthony Quinn, better known to the world as the Academy Award winning star of over two hundred films, stage and television, was also one of the world’s most talented painters and sculptors. His bold, creative mind and spirit inspired us all for over sixty years, through his brilliant and moving portrayal of hundreds of fascinating, complex characters and his vital concern for our troubled world and its needy people, but, it is the lesser known, private, personal side of his life that inspired his brilliant art.
He was born under the gunfire of the Revolution in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1915, to a half-Irish father and Mexican Indian mother, who both marched under the banner of Pancho Villa and who was eventually driven north to Texas in search of peace and freedom. Their journey took them from cardboard box hovels in El Paso, to migrant worker shacks in California, to the impoverished barrio of East Los Angeles, so few miles from Hollywood, but light years away from the glittering, glamorous world of movie stars that would one day bestow upon him its highest honors.
It is quite understandable, after the bitterness and harsh reality of his early youth that he would be attracted to the fantasy world being created by the newly emerging film industry, where his father had found employment as a cameraman at the old Selznick Studios. In order to help generate additional income for his family, young Anthony would wander around the studio, drawing portraits of the stars that he admired most and then present them with his efforts hoping for some recognition or reward. His models ranged from the sultry Rudolph Valentino and the Latin lover, Ramon Navarro to the swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks, who was so flattered by this young boy’s portrayal of him that he awarded him the princely sum of ten dollars and an artistic career was launched.
In addition to the beautiful drawings that he created as a child, he became a talented sculptor, winning his first statewide California competition at age eleven with his sculpted bust of Abraham Lincoln, another boy born in poverty, who helped uplift those in need. The wealth of styles, colors, and techniques he displayed in his art could have been the greatest life works of a dozen different artists, all different facets of the rare gem that was the multi-talented genius of Anthony Quinn.
The bold, decisive lines of his sculptures are sinuous and powerful, hard-edged and flowing. His artwork reflects his deep roots in his ancient heritage and his worldly contemporary sophistication. The colors of his paintings gleam with the purest fire and clarity of emeralds, rubies and sapphires. He created to the size of man’s spirit, not his dimension. His remarkable freedom of expression, bursting with creative energy, speaks to all men. At first he signed his artwork with his mother’s maiden name, Oaxaca, and had a sell out showing.
Critics, fans and serious collectors from around the world first became aware of his extraordinary fine art talents at the International Premiere Exhibition of his sculptures, paintings and graphics. He sold over two million dollars worth of his art on opening night and advance requests from this showing kept Mr. Quinn busy for the next two years. After that extraordinary beginning, Mr. Quinn had twenty-five major exhibitions of his paintings and sculptures throughout the world.
His works have been shown, to great critical and popular acclaim, at Chapultapec Palace in Mexico and Schwarzenbach Castle in Switzerland. Exhibitions of his works have been held in Canada, Korea and Austria, at The Museum of Monterrey, Mexico, The Museo Municipal De Bellas Artes and the Centre Cultural Recoleta in Argentina.
He was awarded highest honors by the Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris.
Best known to American collectors are his many highly successful Exhibitions in New York, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Houston, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, and Washington D.C., where he was honored in the Oval Office by President Ronald Reagan, with acceptance into the highly prestigious Presidential collection.
Just as the highest and noblest cultures and civilizations of all time continue to live on for all eternity through the great works of their architects, sculptors and painters, Anthony Quinn is destined to live on through his loving family, his magnificent sculptures and paintings, and his life’s example.
Anthony Quinn left the beaten path, followed his own star, didn’t go with the times, found his own way, shaped his own destiny and made his mark on our hearts, our minds, and our souls, forever!