Michener Art Museum Hosts Retrospective of the Work of Bucks County Sculptor George Anthonisen

Reported on Wednesday, April 3, 2024.

Pictured Above: George R. Anthonisen, 2009. Photo Credit: Carla M. Klouda. 

‘Meditations on the Human Condition’ celebrates the arc of Anthonisen’s 65-year artistic career



Doylestown, PA – The James A. Michener Art Museum is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition celebrating the work of figurative sculptor George Anthonisen, whose 65-year artistic career creates visual dialogues between the past and the present. “George R. Anthonisen: Meditations on the Human Condition” opens April 20, 2024, and runs through Oct. 13, 2024.

Perfect for a spring visit, George R. Anthonisen: Meditations on the Human Condition features more than 40 bronze sculptures, maquettes, and frescoes on view both in the galleries and the museum’s outdoor garden sculpture. Well-versed in history and current events, Anthonisen creates sculptures that investigate the human condition and people’s capacity to destroy, create, question, and make noble choices. Working primarily in bronze, Anthonisen is known for his thoughtful and sometimes haunting content and for championing the elegance and strength of the female form. The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue that recognizes the sculptor’s significant career and presence in the regional arts community.

Lisa Tremper Hanover, a past executive director of the museum, is the guest curator of the exhibition. On July 10, the Michener will host a Curator Conversation between Anthonisen and Hanover in which they discuss the themes and ideas Anthonisen has explored over the course of his prolific career.

Pictured Above: George R. Anthonisen (b. 1936), Creation, 1981–82. Bronze, 24 × 24 × 14 inches. Edition 3/9. Collection of Carol and Louis Della Penna. Photo Credit: Christian Giannelli. 

“We are thrilled to feature George’s thought-provoking work in our new exhibition,” said Anne Corso, Executive Director of Michener Art Museum. “For decades, George’s sculptures have encouraged us to contemplate the essence of the human being in a changing world, and we look forward to sharing his expansive work with our visitors. He is an excellent example of the kind of artist we aim to highlight at the Michener: A Bucks County artist whose work explores universal themes and has global impact.”

Anthonisen’s career highlights include service as sculptor in residence at the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, and exhibitions at Dartmouth College, the National Academy of Design, the Woodmere Art Museum, the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, Yale University, and the James A. Michener Art Museum. In the 1970s, Anthonisen won a national competition to execute a sculpture of Senator Ernest Gruening for the United States Capitol and Ursinus College commissioned a monumental World War II diptych from the artist. His sculpture, Death and Starvation, was installed at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland in 1985.

Born in Boston in 1936, Anthonisen spent his early years in Vermont, and he was tutored by Elizabeth Calrk Gunther, a landscape architect and daughter of the Director of the American Academy in Rome. Her husband, John F. Gunther, was an architect and painter. It was during this time that young Anthonisen was introduced to the world of art.

In 1955, while stationed in Europe with the U.S. Army, Anthonisen visited the Louvre for the first time where he saw iconic sculptures like the Nike of Samothrace (Winged Victory), Venus de Milo, and Michelangelo’s Two Slaves, which left indelible impressions on him. After military service, he studied at the University of Vermont. He moved to New York in 1961 to master traditional art skills at the National Academy of Design and later at the Art Students League. Anthonisen returned to New Hampshire in 1967 to attend Dartmouth College of Medical School where he studied human anatomy and he has lived and worked in Solebury, Bucks County since 1971.

Michener Art Museum in Doylestown is dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting the art and cultural heritage of the Bucks County region. Home to the largest public collection of Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings, the Michener is named for Doylestown’s most famous son James A. Michener, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who first dreamed of a regional art museum in the early 1960s. The Museum was originally home to the 19th-century Bucks County Prison and is surrounded by the historic stone prison walls which are part of the Patricia D. Pfundt Sculpture Garden, terraces, and a landscaped courtyard. The Museum features nationally touring special exhibitions, work from regional artists in distinctive galleries, and the quiet and serene Nakashima Reading Room.

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