Artist Name

birth8/28/1924, Brooklyn, NYPicture of Stanley Bleifeld
death3/26/2011, Weston, CT
parents
educationTemple University
awards Henry Hering Memorial Medal (1990)
Sculptor of the Year in Pietrasanta and the World (2004)
Westport Arts Award (2005)
Medal of Liberty of the ACLU
Shikler Award of National Academy of Design

Stanley Bleifeld was born in Brooklyn in 1924. He pursued a degree in art education at Temple University but his education was interrupted when he joined the Navy during World War II. While he had wanted to serve on submarines, the Navy quickly recognized his artistic talent and used him to make drawings of equipment instead. He returned to college after the war and graduated with a Masters degree in 1949. Following graduation, he spent time at a camp in the Catskills and met Naomi (Nicky) Ruby, a young woman twenty years of age. By the end of summer the two were married. Bleifeld found empoyment as an art teacher in Weston, Connecticut and the young couple moved to the town that they would live in till Bleifeld's death.

Bleifeld was a painter but a trip to Italy would change his career dramatically. In 1960, Naomi and Stanley traveled to Europe for the first time. A sculptor friend in Italy encouraged Bleifeld to give sculpture a try. "Come on, give it a try!" are the words that Naomi recalls. He started working in wax and never turned back. From that time on, the Bleifelds would travel to Italy every summer and Stanley became a sculptor.

Bleifeld was not a religious person, but he was deeply influenced by the religious sculpture in Italy. For the next ten years his sculptures were mainly of stories from the Bible with only a few non-religiously themed sculptures of people working at a foundry in Italy, a butcher and a baker, kids and landscapes. "He always felt that sculpture had to have meaning. It didn't matter if it was the same meaning between people, but the sculpture had to say something to you,"said his wife Naomi.

He became well known with his first commissioned piece, called "The Prophets", a set of sculptures for the Vatican pavillion at the World's Fair in Queens in 1964. He was also elected a member of the National Sculpture Society in that year. Bleifeld had developed a unique style characterized by the interplay of rough and smooth surfaces, giving the finished piece a dramatic appearance.

The family grew with the births of his daughters Becky and Emily and they kept returning to Pietrasanta every summer to cast at the local foundries and to search for inspiration. These trips to beautiful Tuscany caused Bleifeld to slowly shift away from the human figure towards landscape. Many of his later sculptures were brilliantly executed landscapes defined by his rugged style.

In the last phase of his professional life he was commissioned to create several public monuments, including the famous Lone Sailor at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., It Seemed Like Reaching for the Moon at the Virginia Civil Rights Monument in Richmond, Virginia, The Homecoming at the Navy Memorial. He also created sculptures for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Stanley Bleifeld died in 2011, four days after a cerebral hemorrhage resulting from a head injury in his Weston studio.



You can click on the medals to see the reverse.

  • Chinese Philosophers 1974
    by Stanley Bleifeld
    SOM-90.1
    Golden bronze with platinum-brown patina
    SOM-90.2
    Silver

    This medal was chosen as the 90th issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series in 1937. The obverse bears the standing figures of Lao-tzu and Confucius in robes. Left and right, vertical incuse names in Roman letters loosely disguised as Chinese characters. Below, © SB 74. The reverse bears a river scene of the Yang-tze gorges in the style of traditional Chinese paintings.

    The medal medal measures 73mm in diameter and has a reported production quantity of 1,300 pieces in bronze and 185 in silver.

    SOM-90.1
    Bronze
    73.0mm (2.87in)
    Golden bronze with platinum-brown patina
    THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS 90TH ISSUE - OCTOBER 1974, STANLEY BLEIFELD, SC.(C)
    MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y. BRONZE
    SOM-90.2
    Silver
    73.0mm (2.87in)
    THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS 90TH ISSUE - OCTOBER 1974, STANLEY BLEIFELD, SC.(C)
    MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y. .999+ PURE SILVER
  • Westport Arts Award (1990s)

    Westport Arts Award Medal

    Bleifeld designed the awards medal for his hometown's Arts Advisory Committee. He won the medal himself in 2005.

  • The Oyster's Pearl - 75th Anniversary 2006
    BG-34.1
    Silver-plated bronze
    BG-34.2
    Copper

    This was the 34th of the prestigious Brookgreen Gardens member medals, issued in 2006.

    The obverse bears oyster shell extending beyond round medal's edges. Above, BROOKGREEN / GARDENS; below, SOUTH CAROLINA

    The reverse bears small rendering of Anna Hyatt Huntington's iconic Fighting Stallions in hollow of opened shell. Above, 75th YEAR; below, 1931 - 2006

    I was not aware that the Brookgreen medals came in variants until I acquired the copper variant at auction from the collection of Don Young. The copper variant is much rarer than the silver-plated variant.

    The irregularly circular medal measures 83mm x 76mm and was produced by the Medallic Art Company.


  • Lone Sailor

    Lone Sailor (1987)

    The Lone Sailor, a 1987 bronze sculpture, is a tribute to all the personnel of the sea services. The sculpture is located at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.

    A larger version of this image can be found at the Research Archives of the U.S. Government.

  • The Homecoming

    The Homecoming

    The Homecoming depicts a sailor's joyous reunion with his wife and child.

    Bleifeld, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, developed his design of a Navy family reunion after he visited Navy home ports to witness the celebrations for Navy ships and squadrons returning from overseas deployments.

    This image shows a copy of the original that is located on San Diego's waterfront. The original image can be found at Visit San Diego.

  • It Seemed Like Reaching for the Moon

    It Seemed Like Reaching for the Moon (2008)

    The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial is a monument in Richmond, Virginia commemorating protests which helped bring about school desegregation in the state. The memorial was opened in July 2008, and is located on the grounds of the Virginia State Capitol. It features eighteen statues of leaders in the civil rights movement on four sides of a rectangular granite stone block onto which are carved quotes. Stanley Bleifeld was chosen by the commission behind the construction of the monument. The memorial cost $2.8 million which was financed by private donations.

    A larger uncropped version of this image can be found here.



Contact me if you have links that might merit inclusion on this page.

Books & Articles

American Art Medals, 1909-1995 by David Thomason Alexander
David T. Alexander's book can be purchased at the above link. Highly recommended for anyone interested in SOM. I am deeply indebted to him for all the information I used to document the SOM medals on this site.

Research Archives and Websites

Biography
Pretty good biography at RO Gallery.
New York Times Obituary
The obituary in the New York Times, 4/1/2011.
Matteucci Gallery
Short bio and some of his works.
Biographical article in local newspaper
Good biographical article in Westport Now, 3/29/2011.
Biographical article in local newspaper
Good biographical article in the Daily Voice, 4/5/2011.

Museums