By Joanne Greco Rochman
Meet Ira Reines, master sculpture who worked side by side with world renowned Romain de Tirtoff, aka, Erte for 11 years. Reines is the sculptor who would take the Erte designs and turn them into magnificent sculptures. However, Reines’ story begins long before Erte and his artistic era is post Erte and firmly situated in the here and now. A resident of Ridgefield, Connecticut, Reines was making realistic clay dinosaurs at age 5. By the time he was in high school, he was earning first place in juried art shows, which is unprecedented for a 15-year old in competition with accomplished adult artists. A self taught artist he worked on his art all through high school and at 19-years old, he was hired by the Medallic Art Company of Danbury to sculpt medallions. It was here where he learned and honed advanced plaster-working skills.
Inspired by the works of Michelangelo, Rodin, and Bernini, Reines began to sculpt fantastical and mythological bronzes. His elaborate bronzes brought him private and commercial commissions. When the father of Art Deco, Erte, hired Reines, his career and his art soared. He worked with Erte until Erte’s death in 1991. During this time, Reines’ fine art moved away from mythological creations to more spiritual and contemporary themes.
“I can sculpt anything,” said Reines from his Ridgefield home. “I do everything from animals to humans, to the spiritual flight of the human soul.” Considering that he worked for the Danbury Mint where he did sculptors of celebrities including Groucho Marx, Lucille Ball, the Three Stooges, and many others, his ability to sculpt “anything” is quite obvious. He even did a sculpture of Princess Diana for the Bradford Company.
“It was in 2000, when I found my own voice,” said the artist whose newest works can best be described as expressionistic and ethereal. Observing any of his recent sculptures, one gets a strong sense of the poetic materialized. According to Reines, “It was after I lost both of my parents and broke up a relationship when I became totally alone. That’s when I wanted to forge a relationship with a higher self. Everyone wants to connect to something larger. My sculpture is that state of becoming a more perfected soul – more one with eternity. It’s a spiritual state of perfection. I use beauty and flight to connect with that, but perfection is a cruel mistress,” he stated.
It often takes months to complete a work. First Reines sketches and designs and then works in clay. After a mold has been created he is careful with the plaster and clay models because they are very fragile. “Bronze is my medium,” said Reines adding that his work is time intensive. “I do everything by hand from clay and plaster to wax and bronze.”
Ten years ago, Reines had a dream of a man who was reaching up to an angel that was descending from heaven. This became his “Angel’s Kiss” sculpture. His work is nothing short of remarkable. Having never taken a class and knowing from the get-go that he had an innate talent, his work is fresh, original, and inspired. He is currently working on a bronze sculpture of Lincoln’s face. Mind you, it’s not a full frontal face, it’s a work that will be quite amazing.
For more information on Ira Reines and his work, phone (203) 794-9319.