Harry Marinsky


Harry Marinsky Biography

The massive pogroms that characterized the reign of the Czars in Russia at the end of the 19th Century were responsible for the emigration of Isaac Marinsky and Deborah Dvorkin. Both arrived in London at the age of fifteen. In London, they moved in the same circles which led to their meeting and eventual marriage ten years later. Five children were born to Isaac and Deborah with Harry being the youngest.

Isaac and Deborah Marinsky were both creative and talented designers. Isaac established himself at Phillips, then the leading fashion establishment of London and couturier to the Queen and her Court. Deborah was keenly interested in home decoration as well as clothing design and achieved position prior to her marriage.

With the blossoming of the Industrial Age, there was a ferment of intensive union activity among workers at Philips. Isaac identified with the workers because of his oppressed boyhood in Russia. Although he was part of the management, his sympathies with the workers during the strike caused him to be fired from his position. He could no longer work in the fashion houses of London because he lacked the recommendation necessary to gain employment. This led to the decision to emigrate to the United States of America. He would go alone and send for the family when he was settled and financially secure.

Isaac settled in Providence, Rhode Island. There he met a co-worker from London, Miss Davis, also an accomplished designer. A partnership soon emerged and the name David and Marinsky became sought after by the haute monde and their followers in Newport, Narragansett Pier, and Providence. Isaac’s involvement with Miss Davis was personal and intimate. His devotion was now divided between two women, his wife Deborah and his mistress and business partner, Miss Davis.

It was only through her own self-determination that Deborah Marinsky was able to bring herself and her five children to join her husband in Providence. Harry was three years old when he came to this country. His early childhood and adolescent years were scarred by the strained relationship of his parents. Fortunately, the artistic nature of the family was able to nourish Harry through his early years. Recognizing his ability, the family nurtured his talents. At a young age, Harry began to mold clay into ships and houses. He enjoyed using pastels to portray his idea of the Providence landscape.

Harry attended Technical High School in Providence. There he encountered his first sculpture class taught by a Mr. Hatch. For four years, encouraged by Mr. Hatch, he concentrated on the art of casting in plaster and sand and developed his own ability and style. The next phase of his education was at the Rhode Island School of Design where he was awarded scholarship. Harry was a superlative mathematics student, which was a valuable asset. He became a member of the Pythagorus Society of Mathematics, whereupon he was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He elected to stay at the Rhode Island School of Design where he was lauded as a prize student.

Although the Marinsky family enjoyed financial security during Harry’s childhood and youth, the change in the garment industry from custom tailoring to ready-to-wear forced his father into early retirement. This made it necessary for Harry, early in his commercial career, to assume part of the responsibility for the support of his parents. The need to support himself prompted his move to attend Pratt Institute, where his art education could include commercial art as well as painting and drawing. His sculpture class met in the ceramic studio and consisted of one student: himself. Having completed all the necessary requirements, Marinsky received his degree from Pratt Institute in 1929.

The future for a young artist in 1929 was rather bleak. Odd jobs for advertising agencies were all that one could hope for. An astute agent was essential for an artist to get work in the field. Credit is given to the Marinsky’s agent for showing work to the publishers of American Home and Country Life magazines. The first and subsequent covers of the two magazines in addition to the lay-outs and editorial work was the beginning of Harry Marinsky’s illustrious career as a professional artist. He was twenty-five years old when he was officially designated Art Editor of the two magazines. During his four year tenure, he was responsible for most of the covers and illustrated many of the articles. He was able to travel to England and Scotland. On a trip to Mexico and the Yucatan, he produced sketches that were later included in the first pocketbook, entitled Mexico in Your Pocket published by Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc.

After four fruitful years with the magazines, came a period of free-lance commercial work. This allowed more time for painting and sculpting. Marinsky’s work was being shown in one-man and group exhibitions. His commercial talents were utilized by magazines including Progressive Architecture and Women’s Day.

After the end of the war, in May of 1945, Marinsky was inspired to do seven groups of sculptures, each consisting of several figures. The work was titled One War – One Peace. The sculpture was a response to the rapidly occurring events of the times. Museum curators, gallery directors, and critics responded sympathetically to the art, but the advent of the Cold War seemed to bury the work and its message. It was, nevertheless, the launching of a very important phase in the artist’s career. At that time, Marinsky became very active in the progressive movement, both nationally and locally. For the next ten years he was involved with the most influential liberal political figures and sculpted portraits of many of them.

In 1946 Marinsky decided to leave New York City. He moved to a home he purchased on the Five Mile River in Rowayton, Connecticut. The move out of the city gave Marinsky the opportunity to express his interest and ability in architectural renovation and landscape design. Landscaping was an important aspect of the artist’s life. He continued to be successful as a free-lance commercial artist. Included among the magazines he worked for were: House Beautiful, Home & Garden, and Woman’s Day, for whom he did a series on design in American needlework. He was sought after for his renderings in watercolor and gouache by well-known architects and interior designers. Industrial design for home furnishing companies was yet another facet of the man’s versatility.

Early in this period in Connecticut, he created three sculpture groups called Faith, Hope, and Charity. These had a strong political theme and were shown individually and as a group at the Silvermine Guild of Artists in Silvermine, Connecticut. Although Marinsky enjoyed a flurry of exhibition activity at this time, the demand for representational work of his nature began to wane. With the growing dominance of the abstract and non-objective art in galleries and museums, selling Marinsky’s work became increasingly more difficult. A continuance of participation in the activities of Silvermine and the Rowyton Art Center, which he helped found and direct, kept Marinsky quite busy and fulfilled.

In 1961 and 1962, Marinsky took a sabbatical. For a year he traveled by car in Europe discovering the different cultures of sixteen counties. During this period, he painted close to one hundred watercolor landscapes, most of which have been collected privately. The main headquarters of Merrill Lynch purchased an extensive collection. A permanent show of Marinsky watercolors is firmly ensconced in the executive dining room and others are placed throughout the executive offices.

In 1968 Marinsky traveled again and discovered the Tommasi Foundry in Pietrasanta, Italy. He spent a period of time at the foundry which has now become synonymous with his work. Pietrasanta has many foundries and marble carving workshops. Since the time of Michelangelo, the area has attracted artists from all over the world. Pomodoro, Marini, Murabito, and friends Lipchitz, and Lucchesi are but a few of the renowned sculptors who have produced work at the Tommasi Foundry.

The 70’s saw a new awareness of the humanities and the art climate was also affected. The Stamford Museum acquired Marinsky’s large bronze bird titled The Great Bird for its Touch and Smell Garden. At about the same time, he was commissioned to do a life size sculpture for the Veterans Memorial Park in Norwalk, Connecticut. This consists of four life-size figures symbolizing the positive aspects of nationalism instead of the horrors of war. The young people of the area look upon it as the peace memorial.

Marinsky’s work is now created in his own studio which is within the confines of the Tommasi Foundry. During the 1968-69 period, he produced all the work for his largest one-man show of sculpture at the Bodley Gallery in New York City. Since that time, he has been showing widely both in Europe and the United States. There is a permanent exhibition of his bronzes in Florance Italy at the Florance Art Gallery. They have been representing Marinsky’s work in Italy since 1970.

It was out of this complete and satisfactory experience in Italy that Marinsky decided to do all of his work in Pietrasanta. Consequently, in 1972 the area became his home. Marinsky bought a Tuscan farmhouse in Capriglia, just above Pietrasanta, on the side of a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean. He has also succeeded in creating an increasingly different hillside garden of Italian and English design unlike any other. This is in keeping with his love of architectural ans landscape design. All the elements of this multi-faceted artist and humanitarian have now come together to ensure the continuance of his creativity.