Although he always protested that the hardest thing for him to do was to sculpt the form of a baby, his "baby" or, perhaps more correctly, his baby-like winged cherub has become the emblem of generations. It's form recreated in numbers too numerous to imagine, his WINGED LIFE still graces the entrance of 19 West 31 Street after a hundred years in residence there. It's likeness was reproduced in or on thousands of issues of LIFE MAGAZINE. It has been the subject of essay and photograph, postcard and souvenir, debate and conjecture. And what of the man who gave birth to this baby?
It would be easier to walk through Venice and avoid a canal than it would be to walk through New York and avoid the art of Philip Martiny. His sculpture pervades New York like pine trees pervade Vermont and smiling children pervade Disneyland. You just can't escape them...Thank Heaven! Atop buildings, in public parks, at intersections and throughout museums you will find pieces of the vast body of art created by this expatriated Frenchman.
Born in Alsace and a descendant of Italian artist Simone Martiny, he left France at the age of twenty to avoid service in the military. He remained here for the rest of his life. For a large part of his career he maintained a small studio in the bohemian area known as Greenwich
Village in the lower part of Manhattan. MacDougal Alley which housed many other artists' studios as well as a goodly share of stables was where he did his creating.
Upon his arrival in the United States he studied with August St. Gaudens, arguably the greatest sculptor of his time, as well as with another great, Frederick MacMonnies. After five years of work and study he opened his studio and he was never without work from that day on. He used his popularity as a sculptor to move the art form from merely being used in monuments to being incorporated as part of architecture. As a result, his works will live to inspire other artists and innovators for uncounted generations yet to come.
Mr. Martiny lived, with his family, in Flushing, ( a neighborhood in the borough of Queens in New York City) until his death. His passing was brought about by a second stroke. His first stroke had ended his career, his second one ended his life. When he died he left a wife, (his second) and eight children.
But...consider...if a man's work and memory linger so lovingly in the hearts and minds of so many for so long, is he really gone? His spirit, his heart, his vision,...these things can never really die as long as one piece of his work exists and one heart beats a bit more lightly because of it.
MARTINY'S SCULPTURE ON THE FRONT
OF THE HERALD SQUARE HOTEL
More PHILIP MARTINY
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