Alan  LeQuire

Alan LeQuire


   4304 Charlotte Ave., Nashville, TN

Best known today for his monumental Athena Parthenos, the largest indoor statue in the western world, Alan LeQuire began his artistic career at the age of eleven, when he first began to make objects in tin and copper. By the end of his high school years LeQuire was concentrating principally on sculpture, but at Vanderbilt University he studied English literature and art history rather than studio art. Though he had experimented considerably with abstract sculpture, in his early twenties he felt an increasing dissatisfaction with the arid, cerebral quality of contemporary abstraction. His effort to educate himself in some other fashion led to an apprenticeship to Milton Hebald, an American sculptor living in Italy. With guidance from Hebald and master craftsmen of Italian bronze foundries, he discovered both practical and philosophical approaches to figurative sculpture, which were on the verge of being lost altogether from modern artistic intelligence. At Hebald's establishment in the Roman campagna, he experienced a version of pastoral in some ways similar to what he'd known during his childhood in the American South. Returning to the United States, LeQuire completed the Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, where he continued to study figurative sculpture with Peter Agostini. Within a year of his 1981 graduation, he competed and won the commission to recreate for the Parthenon in Nashville the lost Athena Parthenos by fifth-century Greek sculptor, Pheidias. Over the eight years it took to complete, the Athena project became the most difficult, challenging and rewarding commission any figurative sculptor could hope for - and hope to survive. This work required LeQuire to expand his knowledge of materials and sculpting techniques, and to greatly broaden and deepen his knowledge of classical mythology. The unveiling of Athena Parthenos in 1990 made LeQuire a celebrity and figure of controversy throughout Tennessee, and attracted favorable notice from classical scholars, archaeologists, and art critics nationwide, along with articles in Artnews and the New York Times Magazine. While working on Athena Parthenos, LeQuire supported himself with commissions, both portraits and larger projects. Since his time in Italy, he continues to be a swift, strikingly accurate and extremely popular portrait artist. His portrait heads combine the energy, expressiveness and apparent mobility of a quick sketch with the permanence of bronze. His larger commissions usually retain some element of portraiture (even Athena Parthenos carries in her ornamentation some portraits of the artist and his assistants), and are based in some way upon the human figure. His non-commissioned work is also figurative, often inspired by works of the past, but thoroughly contemporary, both in terms of style and subject matter. Like the classical and Renaissance artists to whom he has directly apprenticed himself, Alan LeQuire believes that the human figure is the single artistic subject to which all viewers inevitably respond. Like his forebears he is especially concerned with the relation of humanity to the world it inhabits. For him, the world is meaningful, and the human figure serves as the primary carrier of meaning. Because of this inner quality as much as its outward appearance, his work is a radical departure from most contemporary art. Monumental, miniature, or life-size, Alan LeQuire's sculpture is on the human scale, a work made by and intended for human beings. -- Madison Smartt Bell