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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Noted Sculptor Stanley Bleifeld Dies at 86

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UPDATE Noted sculptor Stanley Bleifeld of Weston, whose well known works are on display in Washington, D.C. as well as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., died early today at Norwalk Hospital. He was 86. WestportNow.com Image
The “Lone Sailor” by Bleifeld is in Washington, D.C. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) File photo
WestportNow.com Image
Stanley Bleifeld: Weston resident since 1950. Helen Klisser During / WN photo

His wife, Naomi (Nicky), said he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage following a head injury received from a fall four days earlier at his Weston studio.

Locally, Bleifeld designed the medal that is used for the annual Westport Arts Awards given to celebrate members of the artistic community. He himself was recipient of the Lifetime Achievement in Visual Arts at a 2005 ceremony in Westport Town Hall.

Born Aug. 28, 1924 in Brooklyn, N.Y., he has lived and worked in Weston since 1950. Part of each year he has spent at a home and studio in Pietrasanta, Italy where he recently completed a large bronze for the Town Hall. 

An art student at Temple University in Philadelphia, he began his fine art career as a painter. However, a 1959 visit to Italy and exposure to the bronzes of Donatello, Michelangelo, and Ghiberti changed his direction.

Many of his early pieces were religious subjects, and reflected both painting and sculptural techniques in bas reliefs. He later turned from these abstract pieces to more realistic figures in bronze. WestportNow.com Image
Stanley Bleifeld at his Weston studio in 2009. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com

A gifted teacher, Bleifeld taught art in Weston’s elementary schools when he first moved to Weston, then taught from 1964 to 1966 at Silvermine Guild Art Center in New Canaan.

He built a studio on the grounds of his house in 1967 and taught sculptors from the surrounding communities for several years. From 1969 to 1973, he taught at the Richmondville Avenue Old Mill Studios. 

His students, many of whom are themselves well known sculptors, revered him. Steffi Friedman, a Westport resident and sculptor, said she was indebted to Bleifeld for his knowledge passed on and his generosity of spirit in his teaching. 

His kindnesses and unselfishness and good humor in sharing his aesthetic gifts have been acknowledged by the many artists who worked alongside him through the years. WestportNow.com Image
Bleifeld designed the Westport Arts Award medallion. He was a 2005 recipient. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Bleifeld’s many awards include: Sculptor of the Year in Pietrasanta and the World, in 2004, the Henry Hering Memorial Medal of the National Sculpture Society, (he was president of the Society from 1991 to 1993), the Medal of Liberty from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Shikler Award from National Academy of Design, and many others.

He was a National Academician in Sculpture, and was an active member of the National Academy of Design, helping to set policy for that renowned organization.

Bleifeld’s public monuments include the famed “Lone Sailor” at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. (he was a World War II Navy veteran), a work at the Knights of Columbus Memorial in Connecticut, and numerous baseball players at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., as well as many others. 

His work is in numerous private collections throughout the world. Justice Thurgood Marshall, Coretta King, Pandit Nehru, Nancy duPont Acheson, Alexis duPont, and Malcolm Forbes owned his sculptures.WestportNow.com Image
Bleifeld’s civil rights sculpture in Richmond, Va. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Virginia Civil Rights Memorial photo

Most recently he won a commission for, and unveiled a civil rights monument “It Seemed like Reaching for the Moon” in Richmond, Va. The creating of this monument is depicted in the film “Years in the Making,” about 50 Westport and Weston artists which is available for loan from the Westport and Weston Public Libraries.

An hour interview with him concerning his life, philosophy and work is also available for loan from either library as part of the “Years in the Making” archives.

He is survived by his wife, Nicky, and daughters Becky Bleifeld Black of Paris and Emily Bleifeld of Indianapolis.

Preliminary plans called for memorial services in Connecticut, Manhattan, and Italy, according to a family friend.

James Lomuscio and Ann Chernow contributed reporting.

Posted 03/26/11 at 10:20 PM


Comment Policy

Westport, Weston and the world have lost a most precious human being. And, I have lost one of my dearest friends.  What can I say?  I shall always remember.

Al Beasley

Posted by Albert S. Beasley, M.D. on March 26, 2011 at 10:39 PM | #

I have loved and admired Stanley since I was a young child. He was an inspiration, not only because of his talent and passion for art, but for his kindness, his humor, and his warm and lighthearted way of being. Stanley will live on in my heart and in the hearts of many.

Kim Wallant
Lantana, FL
(former resident of Weston, CT)

Posted by Kim Wallant on March 27, 2011 at 02:54 PM | #

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