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Milton Hebald

 (1917 - 2015)
Milton Elting Hebald was active/lived in New York, California.  Milton Hebald is known for life size figure sculpture, bas relief.

Milton Hebald

Biography from the Archives of askART

Following is The New York Times obituary of Milton Hebald.

"Milton Hebald, Whose Sculptures Are in Plain View, Dies at 97"
By Sam Roberts, January 15, 2015

Milton Hebald was "without doubt the most important living figure sculptor," Anthony Burgess, the English novelist and literary critic, wrote in 1971, but he nonetheless predicted that few people, even among the cognoscenti, would remember his name.

"It is the fate of the sculptor," he added, in reviewing a biography of Mr. Hebald, "to be anonymous to the great public." Mr. Burgess proved prescient. While his black beret and goatee might have given away his vocation, as Mr. Burgess suggested, Mr. Hebald was destined to remain chiefly known to the public not by his name, but by his abundant artistic legacy in monumental figurative stone and metal, much of it installed plainly in public view, whether in Central Park or above the grave of James Joyce in Switzerland.

Mr. Hebald, whose career was augured by a childhood gift of modeling clay and whose drawing of the Manhattan skyline was immortalized in a department store magazine when he was a precocious 8-year-old, died on Jan. 5 at 97 at an assisted living home in West Hollywood, Calif., according to Karen Lupton, a trustee of the Milton Hebald Trust.

One critic described Mr. Hebald's legacy as witty and irreverent burlesques on classical statuary that create "clusters of great formal vitality."

His 23 sculptures in New York City alone include two in front of the Delacorte Theater in Central Park — Romeo and Juliet, unveiled in 1977, and Prospero and Miranda from The Tempest, dedicated in 1996 in honor of Joseph Papp, founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival — and a bust of Richard Tucker, the operatic tenor, in a tiny plaza across from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

In 1952, he was commissioned by the city to design a sculpture for the facade of a Bronx tuberculosis hospital.

In 1961, his Zodiac Screen, a bas-relief that is 220 feet long and 24 feet high and billed then as the world's largest sculpture, was installed as a windscreen at the entrance to the circular Pan Am terminal at what became John F. Kennedy International Airport. (It was placed in storage by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey after the airline went bankrupt.)

Mr. Hebald's Olympiade '84, a bronze sculpture of three female runners with flopping ponytails, and "Handstand," a towering young male performing just that feat, grace the Stuart M. Ketchum Y.M.C.A. in Los Angeles.

A seated life-size, contemplative tribute to James Joyce adorns the author's grave site in Zurich, another example of what Mr. Burgess hailed as Mr. Hebald's "sense of a vast shimmering elemental world between words and stone."

Mr. Hebald was born on May 24, 1917, on the Bowery in Manhattan. His father owned a jewelry store and was shot dead there in a robbery when Milton was 6. At 10, he was the youngest student to enroll at the School Art League — so young that a modest model declined to pose for him.

As a teenager, he taught art to immigrants for $22.80 a week under the New Deal's Works Progress Administration, and by the time he was 20, he had already had a one-man show and submitted a proposed concrete entrance relief in a Museum of Modern Art competition to embellish the subway system. ("A talented young man," The New York Times concluded, whose entry, "while it might be better in design, conveys a sense of power.")

He studied at the Arts Students League, the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design and the National Academy of Design and taught at the Cooper Union and the Brooklyn Museum of Art before winning the Rome Prize fellowship from the American Academy in Rome in 1955. He remained in Italy for nearly 50 years.

It was there, inspired by giant Classical, Renaissance and Baroque effigies, that "I got insight into the background of sculpture for the first time," he once recalled.

"I saw how sculpture fits into its environment," he said. "My point of view took a radical change."

He began attracting commissions in his 30s, gaining attention in part because of his friendship with emerging artists who would form the New York School in the 1960s, according to Kenneth Pushkin, whose gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., represents Mr. Hebald's work. Two Hebald pieces are in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

Mr. Hebald's wife, Cecille Rosner Hebald, a painter, died in 1998. He married Kathleen Arc, an actress, in 2000 and returned to the United States in 2004. Two years later, after her death, he moved to California, to the home of his daughter, Margo Hebald Heymann, an architect who designed Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport. She survives him, as do two grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Mr. Hebald kept hoping that his Zodiac would be displayed again publicly, although it remains in a Kennedy Airport hangar while the Port Authority seeks a site that can accommodate a sculpture so gargantuan. He continued to make sculptures into his 90s, albeit whimsical busts that could fit in two hands.

"They make me happy," he told an interviewer for The Los Angeles Times in 2010. "That's what they're for. I wake up each morning and want to get to work."

Biography from the Archives of askART
A sculptor working primarily in bronze but also in plaster, terracotta, and wood, Milton Hebald did figural pieces that have strong diagonal lines and Baroque theatricality.  He was interested in the roots of sculpture from the eastern Mediterranean tradition through the Renaissance and Baroque periods, especially Bernini of Rome.

His most famous work is the Zodiac group, a 220-foot-long bronze in the Pan American Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport.  At one time it was the world's largest sculpture.  Another of his subjects was the novelist James Joyce of whom he did a life-size portrait, which marks the author's grave in Zurich, Switzerland.  He also sculpted characters from the Greek tale of "Ulysses" and created the bust of Richard Tucker at Lincoln Center.

Hebald was born and raised in New York City, and studied there at the Art Students League, the National Academy of Design, and the Beaux-Arts Institute.  During the Depression, he worked for the WPA, and his first one-person show was in 1937 at the American Artists Congress Gallery.  He also exhibited regularly at the Whitney Museum.  After 1955, he was active in Rome, Italy, when he was awarded the Prix-de-Rome to the American Academy in Rome.  Later he moved to Lago di Bracciano until 2004, when he returned to the United States.
The following is from the artist:

Milton Elting Hebald, sculptor, print maker

Born: May 24, 1917, New York City, USA

Awards: Prix de Rome 1956-1958
!st prize NY dept of Public Works T.B.Hospital, Bronx, NY and others

Selected Exhibitions;
1972-1999, Harmon-Meek Gallery, Naples, Florida
1999 A 1958-75 Nordness Gallery, New York
1971-98 Heritage Gallery Los Angeles
Schneider Galleria, Roma, Randall Gallery, New York
Auschhaug Verlag Oslo and many others

Public work: Zodiac Screen, Pan American Terminal, JFK airport, NYC,
James Joyce Monument, Zurich Switzerland,
Romeo &Juliet, &Tempest Groups Delacort Theater, Central Park, NYC
Dancing Family group, Jewish Community Center, Washington, DC.
Milano, Pergola, Italy. Trevignano, Italy and many others

An Alphabestiary, John Ciardi J.B. Lippincott co. NYC .1965
An Alphabestiary by John Ciardi, Kanthos press, color lithographs limited edition 100 copies
Sounds and Shapes by Paul Sheftel. University Society, NYC,1970

Monograph: Milton Hebald by Frank Getlein, 1971, Viking Press, New York

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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About  Milton Hebald

Born:  1917 - New York City
Died:   2015 - West Hollywood, California
Known for:  life size figure sculpture, bas relief