Millionaire Magazine - Fall 2001
TRIBUTE TO A MASTER by Kaya Morgan
Anthony Quinn, famed Academy Award-winning actor of more than 200 movie, stage and television productions, was proclaimed for his outstanding creation of some of the finest paintings and sculptures of this century. Through his brilliant and creative spirit, he portrayed hundreds of fascinating and complex characters that have entertained and inspired us for more than 50 years.
Born under the gunfire of the Revolution in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1915, while his half-Irish father and Mexican mother marched under the banner of Pancho Villa. Driven north through Texas and California, their journey eventually brought them to the impoverished barrio of East Los Angeles ironically just a few miles from the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood scene that would one day recognize him as one of its legendary greats.
Quinns talent was recognized at an early age when at 11 he won a statewide California competition with a clay bust of Abraham Lincoln. In order to help generate additional income for the family, he would wander through the movie studio where his father worked, sketching portraits of the stars he admired most, then presenting them with his efforts hoping for some recognition or reward. His models ranged from the sultry Rudolph Valentino to the swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks, who was so flattered by the young boy's portrayal of him that he received the princely sum of ten dollars and an artistic career was launched.
Like most that have had to work hard for life's dreams, Quinn was no exception. By age 18, he had worked as a migrant farm worker, a taxi driver, slaughtering butcher, a welterweight boxer and sparring partner for contender Prime Camera. Through those experiences, he came to know fighters as poets with something to prove. He believes that they have found their own way of working out of poverty and hunger through strength, becoming an idol for the less fortunate.
However, while attending high school, his love of art and architecture took a dramatic turn when he won a contest for his architectural plan and received a scholarship to study with one of the greatest American architects of all time, Frank Lloyd Wright. This apprenticeship brought a serious impact to Quinns life. Wright emphasized to him that most builders build to the measurement of man while Wright built to the spirit. These words influenced Quinns remarkable freedom of expressions that bursts with creative energy "acting on the size of mans spirit rather than his dimension." And once again, it was Wright whose fatherly relationship with Quinn prompted him to take acting lessons.
Recognized as the consummate actor, he brought to our lives the creation of truly, classic characters in "Ls Strada," "Viva," "Lust for Life," "Requiem for a Heavyweight" and the infamous "Zorba." While on the movie sets in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East, he felt it was sinfully wasteful to simply spend hours sitting around between scenes. So, he requested paint and brushes to keep productively occupied and turned to his first love.
On stage he spoke the words of the author, to the movements of the director, against the backdrops of set designers but in art, he was king. Every stroke of the brush, every shade of color and contour of sculpture was his personal statement. He was master of his artwork, answering to no one, a true Renaissance man, free to explore the limits of his own imagination. Fed by incredible worldly experiences, this man had truly risen from places of great pain and suffering only to rise to the pinnacles of wealth, power and fame.
From his impoverished early youth, to his earliest drawings of the greatest "movie" stars of our time, and even during his architectural scholarship to study with Frank Lloyd Wright, Quinn reflected, "I really wanted to paint and I became an actor by accident."
His timeless artwork reflects the deep roots of his ancient heritage combined with his worldly, contemporary sophistication. Quinn always had a burning desire to create beauty with his own hands. Left alone on a deserted island, he would no doubt reconstruct the rocks, driven by a deep need to leave his imprint something to say, "I was here." A true perfectionist at heart, he admitted, "I find that so few people really understand the mystery of painting. Painters will tell you all sorts of things about why they paint. I cant really say what drives me. Some of my paintings I started 30 years ago and have yet to find the true meaning to them."
The wealth of styles, colors and techniques clearly displayed in his art could be the greatest life works of a dozen different artists. Different facets of the rare, gemlike quality of his paintings are reflected in colors that gleam with the purest fire and clarity of emeralds, rubies and sapphires. The bold, decisive lines of his sculptures are sinuous and powerful, hard-edged and flowing that was the multi-talented genius of Anthony Quinn.
During his early years as an artist, he always signed his artwork with his mothers maiden name, Oaxaca, and had sellout showings. Then in 1982, the demand for paintings and graphics took an incredible turn when, during an exhibit in Hawaii, critics, fans and serious collectors from around the world became aware of his extraordinary fine art talents. More than $2,000,000 of his art sold on opening night, and advance requests from that showing kept Quinn busy over the next two years.
Quinns works continue to sell for as much as $400,000. Since that extraordinary beginning, his artwork has been shown at many major exhibitions throughout the world and are eagerly sought after and collected by celebrities, presidents, kings and even hosted by the United Nations.
Although Quinn always continued to work in film, he also let creativity flow during quiet times at home in his 10,0000-square-foot studio, or working even while he traveled. A man of humble beginnings, he was always amazed by the fact, as he said, that, "
someone wants to live with my paintings."
A conscientious family man, he was eternally devoted to mentoring art into the lives of his children. His piercing brown eyes reflected the depth of his soul, making it easy to understand that you were in the presence of a Master. On June 3, 2001, he passed away, leaving a timeless legacy all may continue to enjoy. His ten children and devoted wife were at his side.
Watch for Morgan's articles on: Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records and Atlantic Virgin Airlines; Al Masini, producer of "Baywatch Hawaii, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Entertainment Tonight, StarSearch, Solid Gold"; a tribute to Anthony Quinn; celebrity chef Charlie Palmer; with profiles of America's top restaurants and a guide for wine connoisseurs!
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