_Horseâ€™s Head_, Anthony Gennarelli, white carrara italian marble. Image provided.
One could say artist Anthony Gennarelli took the idea of role modeling to the extreme. Having idolized the marble sculpture of Michaelangelo and DaVinci, not only did he decide to take up the same medium as his predecessors, but to carve with the same tools they had employed. Using only a chisel and hammer, Gennarelli sculpted as few present-day artists do, eschewing modern-day machinery to craft an eclectic oeuvre dreamed of neither by Renaissance sculptors nor the ancients.
Gennarelli’s death in 2001 at the age of 86 left his family with a legacy of paintings and sculpture, 45 of which are now on display at the Galleria Alba, a showroom in Newburgh run by his relatives. The small gallery is replete with idol-like figures channeled from the cultures of Africa, Europe, Mexico, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, India, and first-generation America, among others. Gennarelli manifested this cultural vocabulary of culture using a wide range of material: His goddesses, gods, animals, and nudes were carved out of marble, onyx, limestone, granite, alabaster, and other types of rock.
“It’s a gift from God, from the spiritual side,” Gennarelli once said of his work. “I don’t start a piece unless I contemplate and meditate on what I’m going to do.”
Gennarelli started his artistic vocation through oil painting and violin. But the he didn’t consider sculpture until he worked at a defense plant during World War II, where he was assigned to a woodworking detail. There, his work in three-dimensional art began to take hold when he started to spend his breaks whittling for his own amusement. He would later study art at The Brooklyn Museum, but didn’t begin formally sculpting until the age of 55.
Alba Gennarelli, Anthony’s centenarian mother, still lives in Brooklyn, where she has spent much time talking about her son’s work and her husband’s oil painting—but denies her own title as an artist: “I do watercolor, but I reserve the name ‘artist’ for someone who dedicates their whole life to art, which is what my husband and son did.”
Anthony Gennarelli’s work is on view at the Galleria Alba in Newburgh through February 28. (845) 566-1276 or (845) 778-5069.