Daily Independent Journal from San Rafael, California on November 20, 1954 · Page 18
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Daily Independent Journal from San Rafael, California · Page 18

San Rafael, California
Issue Date:
Saturday, November 20, 1954
Page 18
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M2 3hibftimbriti 3fminiai. Saturday, Nov. 20, 1954 LOUIS PASTEUR statue of granite and steel, artist Beniamino Bufano made in 1937 for the San Rafael High School. This week an album of Bufano's art work was published. (Molino phdto.) ARE YOU TIRED, LISTLESS? Thai’s too had. We ean’t do anythin* for yon except make your ChrisUnan shopping easier. We can help you select your Christmas cards, have them personalised, help yon pick out a book for every member of your family, gift wrap it for you, mail it for you If necessary—and if you are REALI.Y listless we will do all this after only a phone call from you. BOOKSHOP 1424 Fourth St. San Rafael GL 3-201Q OPEN FRIDAY EVENINGS SCULPTOR Beniamino Bufano and publisher Bern Porter (back to camera) in Bufano's San Rrancisco studio. Bufano's album photos were taken by Harry Bowden. Irrepressible Bufano's Art Published In New Album By MARIAN ZAII.IAN Outside the San Rafael High School art wing stands a granite statue of Louis Pasteur. Affectionately called Lome by students, decorated during football contests, once tarred and feathered by a rival school, the statue of the one-time controversial scientist is becoming part of the school tradition. Its creator no less a controversial figure and affectionately known as Benny is sculptor Beniamino Bufano called by some art critics the genius of his time. This week “A Bufano Album” photographed by Harry Bowden and published by Bern Porter of Sausalito was released, highlighting Bufano’s art career. Perhaps no other artist has been the center of more controversial issues, been embroiled in more personal feuds, caused more stormy civic sessions than Buiano—and all for the sake of art. He has been championed and denounced in terms no less than dramatic. His art is found in the major cities of the United States, France, Sweden, Germany, Russia and China. Valued for thousands of dollars he has never financially profited from his works. ENGLAND’S astute critic and painter, Roger Fry, has called his black granite statue of St. Francis of Assisi “the most significant piece of sculpture done within five hundred years.” The French master sculptor Maillol said, ‘‘for America he (Bufano» is a triumph, she has at last given us one great sculptor.” His name first appeared in newspapers in 1915 and since then has been favorite news copy. A former Sausalito resident, now living in San Francisco, he has traveled twice around the world, often his portraits paying his passage, spent 12 years in the Orient, lived with Sun Yat-Sen and Mohandas Gandhi but always returned from his travels to the bay area. RECENTLY Edward R. Murrow published his philosophy in the book ‘'This I Believe” and author Henry Miller says of Bufano, ‘‘The legend which he has created is only a preface to the myth which will come with his passing and probably outlast the hard materials he has employed. He has not buried himself in his work. He has dedicated himself to the service of mankind.” BENIAMINO BUFANO was born Oct. 14, 1898 in the town of San Fele near Rome. From his mother he inherited a love for philosophy, poetry and art and from his father a singularly obstinate attitude in his beliefs. His father, supporter of the Italian liberal Garibaldi, later wrote the life of Garibaldi, incurred the wrath of the Pope and his church and had to flee Italy as a political refugee. Two-year-old Beniamino Bufano was brought to New York to live. As a youngster lie enjoyed art and when old enough entered the Art Students League. He studied with James Fraser, Herbert Adams and Paul Manship. It was while working with sculptor Manship that Bufano designed the buffalo found on the nickle. While still in his teens he left the Art Students League to create the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts panels for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. During that time Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney offered a $500 art award for the best portrayal of what America has done for her immigrants. Sculptor Bufano offered a boy in his immigrant. group with an engraved biblical inscription ‘I came unto my own and my own received me not’ and promptly won the first prize. His talent recognized, art critics ran reviews in bay area and New York papers. ADVISED by his mother ‘son if you wish to know and to learn about God, people and humanity do not hang too long around your mother’s skirts,” Bufano left in 1918 for the Orient. Seventeen and stranded in China he worked for a while as a laborer. learned the Chinese secret for glazed pottery and met Sun Yat- Sen with whom he lived for 3 4 years. He still carrier a souvenir of his stay with the Chinese leader.a bullet-scarred hand. It happened while he was working on a stone portrait of the president. Needing more materials from the village, Bufano decided to. scale the wall of Sun Yat- Sen’s headquarters rather than take the conventional long route. Unfortunately a new guard mistook him for a would-be assassin and fired but was stopped before taking aim again. ‘‘Who knows I might not be here today if he had taken that second shot,” said Bufano. Now a statue of Sun Yat-Sen stands in St. Mary's Square, a gift from Bufano to the San Francisco Chinese. FROM CHINA Bufano traveled to India where he met and lived with Gandhi whom he calls the “Christ of our age.” and traveled on to Africa to visit with the native tribes. He returned to San Francisco in 1921 to teach at the California School of Fin» Arts and was dismissed in 1923 because his modern methods were turning the conservative elements topsy turvy. His feuds with the school officials supplied news headlines for days. Later Bufano opened his own school only to have it closed because he was too interested in teaching to pay attention to financial matters. He believes that the "true artist lives for his art which he loves, not for securing fleeting earthly pleasures.” The greatness of his art is not denied but always considered just a little too modern by the conservatives. He waged a verbal war with the conservative members of the San Francisco Art Commission in 1937 when they frowned on his proposed project of building a 180-foot stainless steel statue of St. Francis of Assisi on top of Twin Peaks as a monument to San Francisco. SOON the whole city took up the cause and even religious leaders took sides. Although plans finally were approved the project was never realized. Somehow there was never enough money. Now Bufano may lose his original 18-foot granite statue of St Francis considered by some his greatest work. Created m Pans the statue never arrived at its San Francisco home because its creator lacked the shipping funds. The warehouse where it has been stored now is being torn down. Bufano's own philosophy has kept him financially poor. “I chose the profession of an artist by choice and that of poverty by proxy of man’s inhumanity to man,” he said. He has given some 50 pieces of sculpture to the City of San Francisco where they can be seen in the parks, squares and entrances to housing developments. “My gift comes from humanity and it goes back to humanity.” The artist who was advised by his father not to become a sculptor because “it was too noble a profession for this world” was the first to initiate steel as a new medium. Famous for his use of simplicity and straight lines, Bufano enjoys working with all of the available materials for each he believes has a character of its own, each is a challenge. The artist, he says is nothing more than a sponge, sensitive to what is happening in society and registers it for the time that comes after.” Bufano has recorded his observations in imperishable materials. BELIEVING that we are living in “newspaper civilization where we are scared of our shadow” and that culture is at an all time low, the only thing the Twentieth Century can boast says Bufano is the United Nations. “It is the only effective thing humanity has given.” “It will serve to reach a day where we may enjoy each other in a world of oneness.” His “Oneness of Creation” theme is found in his mosiac covering an area of 740 square feet in Moar’s restaurant in San Francisco. LAST WEEK artist Bufano had completed another project. At the San Francisco Press Club, W’here he makes his home with the blessing of newsmen, and with actress friend Helen Haves present the new work was unveiled. In 1943 Miss Hayes had been present for a similar ceremony. It was the unveiling of a black cat named Tombstone. This time there were two—a black one with its eyes closed and wide-eyed white one Miss Hayes named Marilyn Monroe.

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