American sculptor Ira Reines is internationally celebrated for his fluid, tactile bronze sculptures that depict beauty born of chaos, figures emerging from amorphous matter—an intensely personal style developed by Reines known as “Sculptural Etherealism.”
Born on December 3, 1957, in New York City, Reines showed signs of talent for sculpting early on at the age of five. He began his sculpting career in 1976, at the Medallic Art Company of Danbury, Connecticut, creating medallions. There, he honed his sculpting skills and learned advanced plaster-working techniques. At age 20, Reines traveled to Italy and still remains, to this day, greatly influenced by the masterful sculptures of Michelangelo, Bernini, and Rodin that he experienced first-hand in Rome and Florence.
A few years later, Reines was chosen to work closely with Art Deco Master Romain de Tirtoff, better known as Erté. Erté is most famous as a costume designer and fashion illustrator—he designed apparel for renowned screen actresses of the 1920s and created cover illustrations for issues of Harper’s Bazaar twenty-two years in a row. Although he personally had no experience with sculpture, Erté recognized and greatly admired Reines’ passion and talent in sculpting, and in 1980, he sought out Reines to help in faithfully translate his beautiful drawings and paintings into three-dimensional form. Over the course of eleven years, Reines collaborated closely with Erté to create seventy bronze sculptures based on the master’s celebrated two-dimensional couture designs. These sculptures were distributed world-wide and many now reside in world-class art institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Shanghai Doulun Museum of Modern Art.
After Erté’s death in 1991, Reines turned his focus onto developing his own personal style, which underwent a metamorphosis from classic mythological themes to a more contemporary vision. Through his sculptures, Reines explores the relationship between the human experience and the cosmos—order and chaos—and represents the sublime beauty that arises as a result. His sculptures bear intimate marks of his hands and sculpting tools, providing insight into the physical process Reines performs to shape his figures out of organic masses.
In 2012, a prominent Reines collector donated “Aurora” as part of their gift to the new student center of Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. This monumental work is permanently installed at the main entrance to the Center.