A Day At Reuben Nakians' Studio
I met Reuben Nakian through my friend Bob Metzger, who was writing a monograph on the artist for The Stamford Museum. Reuben lived very near the museum in a bucolic, tucked away part of town with his wife and one of his sons. His studio was in a separate building on the grounds. I was excited and felt privileged to have been invited to see the artist and perhaps, some of his work. As we pulled off the road into the long, unpaved driveway a monumental sculpture arose, Reuben’s interpretation of Leda And The Swan, a rough draft in plaster, which captured the suns rays on its creviced, bleached white surface and reflected them back in blinding triumph. Reuben later explained how he would build the sculpture full size in plaster of paris with the help of an assistant, and later, if it found a patron, have it cast in bronze.
Reuben came out to greet us and after a brief discussion of the sculpture in the driveway and tour of the grounds, led us directly into his studio. Even though he was close to eighty years old, he wasn’t frail in body or mind. His features looked like they had been chiseled in granite, so sharp and distinct were they through the wrinkles that lined his face. His hair was silver and almost touched his shoulders and had a wind-tossed look. For some reason he reminded me of a well-known portrait of Geronimo, leader of the Apache Indians. His hands were large and boney, I would suspect from a life of forcing clay and plaster to his will. It looked to me like he didn’t see too well anymore, because when he looked at you he kind of squinted. I pictured him sitting at a café somewhere on the Riviera discussing art and women with Picasso, over a glass of wine.
Reuben showed us a sketchbook that was sitting on the table. Mostly nude figure drawings and various mythological beings. I commented that he was very prolific, and he chuckled and said wine helped the creative flow. I started drinking wine after this as I worked also, but it only made me want to take a nap.