Lorenzo Quinn is regarded as one of the world’s leading contemporary sculptors. His work is primarily concerned with portraying authentic emotions and universal values in physical, three-dimensional form. His themes of love, relationships, and emotional trauma can be explored and experienced by every single member of his audience, made all the more accessible by his bold depictions of humanity in interaction with itself.
Son of actor Anthony Quinn, Lorenzo cites his father as one of his primary influences both in terms of living in the limelight of the film world and his father’s early work in painting and architecture. Due to his father’s career, Quinn split his childhood across Italy and the United States, before he began to study at the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York. It was around this time that Quinn created what he now recognises to be his first piece of artwork: Adam & Eve, a sculptural interpretation of Michelangelo’s Adam, which, through the creative process, revealed a torso of Eve within.
With the success of his father, Quinn dabbled in the acting world, starring alongside Anthony Quinn in Stradivari (1989), before settling on sculpture as his true passion. Quinn found that it was through the medium of sculpture that he could create genuine works of art. His focus remained keenly on the human figure, implementing the classical rule of the golden ratio to guide his hand, and using his medium to express the values of community, love, and support that are intrinsic to humanity.
STYLE AND TECHNIQUE
Inspired by the great figurative masters, Michelangelo, Bernini, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, and Auguste Rodin, Quinn’s creative ideas spark quickly into life. He says,“the inspiration comes within a millisecond;” but the artwork itself takes Quinn months to fully bring to life. With each sculpture, the idea is first born in written form, in poetry and literature, before being transformed into a monumental bronze or aluminium sculpture. Quinn refines the meaning at every stage, finally adding the words of his initial poetry onto the sculpture’s surface.
His interest and preoccupation with human hands as a symbol of human experience and influence is evident in even Quinn’s earliest work. Widely believed to be one of the hardest parts of the human body to recreate in art, Quinn embraces the challenge that they pose, and a large proportion of his sculptures centre around the interaction between hands: be it in a firm grasp or a gentle touch. One of Quinn’s first public sculptures was a full-figure sculpture of St Anthony, commissioned by the Vatican, for display at the Basilica del Santo in Padua. A cherub seems to weightlessly balance on St Anthony’s fingertips.
His 2013 Full Circle exhibition at Halycon Gallery, London, marked a turning point in his career. By now an established name in the world of fine art sculpture, his work gained greater renown across the globe and turned towards more in-depth self-reflection.
In April 2015, Quinn’s development towards larger-scale works and an almost exclusive focus on human hands was exemplified by his In the Hands of Lorenzo Quinn exhibition in India. Over 40 emotive sculptures from throughout his career were exhibited, playing with scale, subject matter, and medium.
HUMANITY CAPTURED IN ART
Quinn’s greatest subject is the human experience, and how complex human emotions can be captured through bodily gesture. Since his career’s beginnings, Quinn has remained unafraid to tackle topics that inspire passionate debate and powerful injustices. For example, his 2005 piece, Rise Through Education, installed at the Aspire Academy in Doha, symbolises the responsibility of adults to pass the knowledge of the world onto the younger generations.
It was at his 2008 Evolution exhibition, which marked the opening of the Halcyon Gallery in Mayfair, that Quinn firmly established the human hand as an important recurring motif, through which he would explore humanity and human relationships.
Quinn’s 2009 Equilibrium exhibition focused on the balance that people can bring to one another’s lives, with many works appearing in complementary pairs or series. One of Quinn’s best-loved works is the sculpture Harmony, which encapsulates the human need for the support of others.
As Quinn’s style developed, his use of the human hand motif became even more refined. Many more recent works feature the hands of a child as a symbol of innocence, the future, and each human’s beginnings. Vroom Vroom, exhibited in Valencia, Abu Dhabi, and London, explores the pivotal changes of young adulthood. La Dolce Vita, exhibited in Rome in 2011, symbolises total abandonment to the child within.
POLITICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Quinn’s works from all stages of his career are deeply immersed in the political, historic, and environmental mechanics of their locations. In 2005, the Tree of Life in Birmingham was erected to commemorate the WWII blitz in the city.
In Venice, the childish hands of Quinn’s 2017 sculpture Support emerge from the Grand Canal to prop up the Ca’ Sagredo against the rising sea levels and damages of time. Similarly, in 2018, Stop Playing brought together the military history of Venice with the current need to conserve natural resources.
The 2019 work Building Bridges in Venice perhaps encapsulates Quinn’s political commentary in the most powerful way. Six pairs of hands (individually titled Friendship, Faith, Help, Love, Hope, and Wisdom) signify the need for total world unity, and mark the city as a diverse meeting point for culture.
Many of Quinn’s later works deal with fears surrounding aggression between nations and war. This is Not a Game is adorned with the phrase: ’Leaders of the world use their armies as if they were some private little toy they can commandeer and destroy as a careless kid would.’ His 2017 work, A Dangerous Game, created for Miami Art Week, again uses the image of a child’s hand to highlight the damage of war on future generations.
Much of Quinn’s work has a charitable purpose, with significant donations being passed on to foundations and organisations that aim to alleviate the injustices his work highlights: from domestic abuse to poverty relief.
In the wake of the 2009 Tsunami, Quinn auctioned his work The Force of Nature II, with proceeds going to assist in reconstruction and aid. The piece is a rich example of Quinn’s ability to layer meaning within sculpture, from the resilient figure and the powerful natural elements, to the tier specially constructed out of donated plaques.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Quinn’s works continue to appear in public spaces across the globe, in the form of standalone sculptures and vast exhibitions. The endless possibilities of his work was explored in the 2019 Possibilità exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery. The exhibition took viewers back to Quinn’s artistic roots, his original muse (the human form), how his artistic process has changed and adapted over time, and where his exceptional talent for expressing abstract human emotions might take him next.