215 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019, United States
Art Students League of New York
633 W 155th St, New York City, NY 10032, United States
American Academy of Arts and Letters
Initially, in 1915, Reuben studied at the Independent School of Art in New York. Between 1916-1920, he attended the Art Students League of New York, where he was a student of Paul Howard Manship.
He also received honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska (1969) and University of Bridgeport (1972).
During the 1920's and 1930's, Reuben Nakian created exotic animals, sculpted in a sensually smooth manner, typical of the era. At that time, he also held numerous exhibitions at different museums and galleries in New York, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Downtown Gallery and others. In 1926, Nakian met Constantin Brancusi and assisted him in installing his first one-man exhibition in the United States.
In the mid-1930's, Nakian got acquainted with Arshile Gorky, who encouraged him to seek greater expression through abstraction. Nakian sought to further his own expressive possibilities and pursued a course of modeling the figure with unprecedented freedom, atypical in American sculpture. Reuben’s immersion in Greek mythology captured his interest and served as the primary inspiration of his subject matter for the duration of his career during the mid-1980's. In mythology, Nakian found a universe of reflection and metaphor. Epic themes of struggle and sensuality are depicted in monumental form. Nakian’s modeling, whether in large or intimate scale, expresses power and yet retains a tenderness and even good-natured joy.
By 1950, when Nakian began showing his work at the Egan Gallery, he had developed his mature style, and it is his heroic, painterly and passionate work from this period on, that brought him international recognition and public commissions. Among these are his bronze "Voyage to Crete" and his only religious work, entitled ''Descent From the Cross''.
In 1968, the sculptor represented the United States at Venice Biennale.
Also, during his lifetime, Reuben taught at Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts and Pratt Institute.
Leda and the Swan Plaque
Nymph and Goat
Europa and the bull
The Rape of Europa
Descent from the Cross
Nymph and Satyr
Leda and the Swan (JRFA 9882)
Voyage to Crete
Nymph and Satyr
Europa and the Bull
Satyricon I Maquette
Europa and the Bull
Birth of Venus
Quotes from others about the person
“"Nakian is unrepressed, un-neurotic, unabashed in his approach to sensuality, however tortuous his esthetic commitment, and whether his subject be death, bestiality, or Arcadian dalliance. This explicitness gives the "Nymph and Satyr" plaques a marvelous joy and ease, the "Europa" terra-cottas a voluptous dignity, and the "Leda and the Swan" drawings an almost comic abandon. Unlike most sexually oriented images in modern art, from Auguste Rodin to Andy Warhol, one finds no guilt or masochism in a Nakian. It is outgoing and athletic even in its releases and defeats: the satyr, the bull, the swan, the goat are each circumvented or absorbed by the goddess of his choice in the most choice of circumstances, that of his own choosing, like the amorous "dying" of the Elizabethans or the Metamorphoses of Ovid." — Frank O'Hara, an American writer, poet and art critic”
Nakian married Rose St. John in 1934. Their marriage produced two sons — Paul and George.