John Kennedy

The sculptor John Kennedy (1931-2004) is widely known for his graceful bronze figures, which adorn parks, campuses, and public buildings around the world. Two of his most famous sculptures are Spirit of Audrey, dedicated to Audrey Hepburn and located at the UNICEF Headquarters in New York City, and The Entertainer, the official statuette of the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

 

Kennedy was born in 1931 in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar), to a Scottish textile merchant and his Burmese wife. During the war he was evacuated to northern Burma traveling by boat along the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay, and then to Moguk, from where many years later, he was to draw inspiration particularly from the tall, elegantly thin Shan people for his distinctive style of sculpture. It was at boarding school in Lucknow, India, where he was first intoduced to art.

Throughout his life, Kennedy always held on to his greatest passion: the creation of art. In fact his artistic approach and gifted vision underpinned his success in his many careers. He often traveled in Europe where he apprenticed with world-class sculptors, learning firsthand how to cast bronzes using the traditional lost-wax method. He was fascinated with the physical process of working in clay. He loved the way in which he was able to communicate the profound depth and range of human emotions though it.

 

After moving his family to Palm Springs, California in 1980, Kennedy was finally able to immerse himself totally in art. Although he was trained in the classical style of sculpture, he proceeded to create abstract figures--devoid of facial features, yet fully human ande saturated with emotion.

 

Kennedy sought to reveal the intimacy of loving relationships by giving these abstract figures recognizable gestures and poses, such as the caress of a hand or a gentle embrace. He once said of his creative process: "You can tell so much from a figure's body language. Even the tilt of the head shows a particular mood and emotion. In this way, the body is a vehicle for the expression of the spirit."

 

Kennedy's distinctive style of bronzes have attracted the attention of major collectors such as Kirk Douglas, Gunter Sachs, Baron Thyssen and Jim & Jackie Lee Houston, as well as the praise of art critics who noted that Kennedy's engaging figures impel us "to both touch them and be touched by them."