Because of our intimate familiarity with it, the human body in art has a unique ability to communicate an infinite variety of emotions, ideas, concepts, and stories, which is why Martin Eichinger prefers to be called a narrative artist rather than a figurative sculptor. What story will you find?

Can you think of reasons that performances such as ice skating, floor gymnastics, or ballet are so beautiful to watch? Perhaps it’s the dancer’s defying of physical limitations, the practiced synchronization —  or is it something spiritual? The Holt Ballet Conservatory offers, “To see what the human body can accomplish when the human heart is determined and devoted teaches all of us over and over that persistence overcomes limitation. The beauty of the dancer’s body and its liquid movement, the music and its choreography, the costumes and sets, and the exchange of human energy — audience and dancer.”

Indeed, viewing the exquisite figurative sculptures by master artist Martin Eichinger draws many parallels with award-winning ballet performances. Often composed in dramatic, expressive, and powerful gestures, Eichinger’s work communicates with viewers on a fundamental and spiritual level that has left collectors and enthusiasts entranced for nearly 30 years. “I’m interested in having my sculptures say more about us as people, about our spirits or our aspirations,” the sculptor says. “By sharing story and emotion through the human form, I feel connected in a deeper way, both with the people who view it and, perhaps most importantly, to the sculpture I am working on.”

Martin Eichinger, “One with the Universe,” cast bronze ed. 75, 60 in. (c) Martin Eichinger 2016
Martin Eichinger, “One with the Universe,” cast bronze ed. 75, 60 in. (c) Martin Eichinger 2016

Eichinger’s journey to become one of the most renowned artists living today is a fascinating story itself, beginning with Mr. Hop in the 8th grade. “He exposed me both to the process of ‘making’ art (my most fun class), and also, in the art history portion of our class, taught us about the Renaissance and how all types of artists, independent scientists, thinkers, and adventurers had reshaped civilization,” Eichinger recalls. “The Age of Enlightenment presented artists as part of the thinking and moral structure that this new age brought forth. I thought, ‘Wow! That’s worthy.’”

Martin Eichinger, “Seeing in the Dark,” cast bronze ed. 75, 29 x 14 x 17 in. (c) Martin Eichinger 2016
Martin Eichinger, “Seeing in the Dark,” cast bronze ed. 75, 29 x 14 x 17 in. (c) Martin Eichinger 2016

After earning a bachelor’s degree in commercial art and advertising, Eichinger set out as an independent contractor, enjoying the flexibility of choosing his own clients and projects, which also afforded him maximum creative efficiency and input. Eichinger’s schedule also allowed him to slowly develop his independent work, but the endeavor hadn’t become financially sustainable.

Martin Eichinger, “Fortify My Spirit,” cast bronze ed. 75, 44 x 20 x 13 in. (c) Martin Eichinger 2016
Martin Eichinger, “Fortify My Spirit,” cast bronze ed. 75, 44 x 20 x 13 in. (c) Martin Eichinger 2016

The artist remembers, “A significant client who once passed through my home asked about my collection of bronzes. He stated that he had a pretty significant collection of sculptures himself and had never seen this artist’s work before. He was shocked when I told him they were mine. After talking about his project, which we had worked together on for a couple of months, he paused, a slow kind of pause, to tell me he really liked my designs for his museum exhibits, but if I was able to make the sculptures in the other room, why was I wasting my time ‘doing this shit design work’ for him? I staggered back and Mr. Hop flashed through my mind: ‘Yes, Martin, why?’ The rest, as they say, has been history in the making.”

Martin Eichinger, “Event Horizon,” cast bronze ed. 50, 23 in. (c) Martin Eichinger 2016
Martin Eichinger, “Event Horizon,” cast bronze ed. 50, 23 in. (c) Martin Eichinger 2016

Since that fateful encounter with his client, Eichinger has ascended the ranks of investment-worthy artists, and was recently called “the direct heir to Canova and Carpeau” by Richard Speer of Willamette Week, who also described the sculptor’s command of anatomy as “flawless.” To be sure, flawless is but one of many words one could use to describe “From the Heart,” a beautiful exploration of male liberation and masculinity. As Eichinger describes it, “‘From the Heart’ portrays a man’s liberation achieved through emotions of the heart rather than the mind. The physical balance of the figure above the flowing column mirrors the spiritual balance reached through the acknowledgment of his feminine side. While the gesture initially seems to leave the man vulnerable, a redefined strength emerges; a man strong enough to swoon.”

Martin Eichinger, “From the Heart,” cast bronze ed. 50, 60 x 32 x 36 in. (c) Martin Eichinger 2016
Martin Eichinger, “From the Heart,” cast bronze ed. 50, 60 x 32 x 36 in. (c) Martin Eichinger 2016

“Fortify My Spirit” is another exquisite example of Eichinger’s brilliance. Only one of a four-part “Meditation Series,” the sculpture is — and was — a profound journey for the artist, both creatively and spiritually. “My goal is to produce artwork that comes from a place deep inside of me, and I have used meditation techniques to quiet the chatter and help make clear what remains,” says Eichinger. “Using a simple meditation of counting my breaths, 1 through 4, each breath first manifesting as a thought and eventually becoming a vision. ‘One with the Universe’ reminds me that I am part of something bigger than me. ‘To Love Is to Be’ is about the essential nature of loving and being loved. ‘Three Options Are Open’ rejects polarized or black-and-white thinking and helps me see new possibilities. ‘Fortify My Spirit’ is an acknowledgment that my request for strength has been answered. Together they create a mythic grounding or a collective narrative for my being.”

Eichinger is as motivated and enlivened by his art as he’s ever been, and collectors continue to acquire his sculptures in droves. His success is a potent reminder of art’s fundamental need to visually communicate intangible and larger humanistic themes during these modern times, and of the efficacy of traditional methods in conveying such themes. Although our time on earth is limited, one can rest assured that the spirit and humanity within each of Eichinger’s sculptures is part of an artistic lineage that extends from the Paleolithic “Venus of Willendorf” through our indefinite future.

To learn more, visit Martin Eichinger.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster
Andrew Webster is the Editor of Fine Art Today and works as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.

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