Modern Master Sculptor Manuel Carbonell was a Cuban artist considered among the most important Latin American Masters. Carbonell, Wifrido Lam, and Agustin Cardenas belong to a generation of Cuban artists that studied at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Alejandro in Havana, Cuba between 1915 and 1950. Other students at the Academia during this period include Mario Carreno, Amelia Pelaez, Victor Manuel and Fidelio Ponce. At the Academia, Carbonell studied sculpture under the guidance of Jose Sicre, a former student of Bourdell, Rodin's favorite disciple.
Upon graduation in 1945, Carbonell received the title of Professor of Drawing and Modeling. He then traveled to France, Italy and Spain to work and study. Upon returning to Cuba, Carbonell received many national honors and awards and in 1954 received his first international award for his Capillaina stone carving of the life size sculpture "Fin de Una Raza" at the Third Bienal Hispanoamericana de Arte (Barcelona, Spain).
In 1959, upon arriving in New York, Carbonell moved from his classical and religious period in Cuba during the 1940's and 1950's through the commencement and development of his modern expression of the 1960's culminating in Madison Avenue, then pinnacle of the art world. In 1963, he celebrated the first of seven "One Man Shows" at the renowned Schoneman Galleries in New York City. During the 15 years that Schoneman Galleries exhbited Carbonell's work, Carbonell was the only sculptor at the gallery among the artists exhibited which included Picasso, Chagall, Braque, Monet, Matisse, Gaugin and Renoir.
In 1976, at a formal ceremony in the Gardens of the White House, Carbonell presented "The Bicentennial Eagle" as his gift to the United States of America. The sculpture is presently part of the Gerald Ford Library, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The following year Carbonell created the "Madonna of Fatima", his first bronze monument in America: 26-foot high statue located in Washington, New Jersey. This statue is one of the largest works cast in bronze in America during the twentieth century. In1987, the Miami Gallery Beaux Arts Gallery, began representing Carbonell. In 1990, Carbonell moved to Pietrasanta, Italy where he had his studio for many years, to carve the Statue of Cuban Apostle Jose Marti", a 7-foot marble statue for the San Carlos Institute in Key West, Florida.
One of Carbonell's most impressive commissioned works of art is the 53-foot monument "The Pillar of History" located at the Brickell Avenue Bridge, Miami, Florida. Created in 1992, the monument reflects the history of Miami and its settlers. The monument consists of a 36-foot high bronze bas-relief column that graphically narrates the lives of the Tequesta Indians, , Miami's first inhabitants and features 158 figures. At the top, stands a 17-foot bronze sculpture "Tequesta Family" depicting a Tequesta Warrior aiming an arrow to the sky with his wife and child at his side. Another important monument is "El Centinela Del Rio", a 21-foot bronze and alabaster sculpture located at Tequesta Point in Brickell Key, Miami, Florida. He was also the creator of the 15-foot sculpture "Horse and Rider" a Burt Reynolds commission for his former theater.
Carbonell's modern sculptures, like those of great masters, have a unique and unmistakable style that makes his work excel and it is easily identifiable. Carbonell imparted to his sculptures a feeling of "Universal Beauty", which transcends the moment and can be appreciated by present and future generations. His modern sculptures are what throughout the ages have been considered as classical and not mere forms of expression of untrained free association to satisfy the moment. It is this unique mastery and personal style, what creates transcendence and permanence in the art world.
His modern monumental works, created in his modern and distinctive personal style, are part of important and collections and public spaces, "Couple in Love" adorns the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Miami, "Lovers" is found at the entrance of the Carbonell Condominium, named in the artist's honor, "Torso" formely at Selby's Five Point Park, downtown Sarasota is now at the von Liebig Art Center in Naples, Florida and "New Generation" in Xujianhui Park, Shanghai, China. The sculpture "Amantes" now graces the grounds of the Hotel Bristol, Buenaventura, Republic of Panama.
Carbonell sculptures are found at important museums and art collections such as the Frost Museum, Miami, Florida, The Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California, The Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, Florida, also in private collections as in The Swire Art Trust, Lefrack Collection, The Nemeroff Collection, The Finkle Collection and in personal collections as those of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Burt Reynolds, Kay Ballart, Carlton Varney, Eleanor Kosow, Wayne Huizenga and many other fine art collectors.
Carbonell's inexhaustible vision and his ever changing personal style were the product of a brilliant talent and academic background. Ceassesly searching in his sculptures for the essence of the form and the absence of details, he imparted a sense of strength, simplicity and monumentality to his work. Carbonell recently passed away at 93 years of age where he continued to work daily in his studio.
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