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Eliscu, Frank, Medallic Art Company, Inspiration, Reverse, Inside
From the collection of John Birks

No. 429/2500

Inspiration, America's First Multi-Part Medal

Frank Eliscu, Sculptor


What inspired the ancient Egyptians to build the Pyramids? What inspired Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel? What inspired Bartholdi to sculpt the Statue of Liberty?

This powerful force is INSPIRATION. It drives creative people to produce creative things. Inspiration, has, in fact, been the fountainhead of all the world’s art, all the world’s music, all the world’s writing … for all time! For how would all of the world’s creative people [have] produced what they did, were it not for inspiration? Would you accept, then that INSPIRATION itself needs to be immortalized for what it is: the source of all things we hold to be beautiful, to be useful, to be aesthetic? How it has enriched our lives. How it has enriched the lives of every man and woman on earth: Giving pleasure, displaying beauty, soothing emotions, stimulating curiosity, fulfilling our very existence.

Medallic Art Company commissioned an inspired artist, noted sculptor Frank Eliscu to honor INSPIRATION in a way that has never before been attempted. A way that at once is innovative, that is creative, that is beautiful and appropriate to such an important spirit as INSPIRATION.

Artist Eliscu accomplished this task with the creation of the first American multiple-part medal!

He approached his task with an almost religious fervor:

ELISCU: When Man first walked the Earth, he found that just the need to exist was not enough. He felt the urge to express ideas beyond the limits of the spoken word. Down through the Ages, we have been given a heritage of Beauty that was inspired by His act of creation.

Eliscu was himself inspired by examples of the new multi-part medals from Europe, notably those of Rene Quillivic (whose “Jonah in the Whale” was the first) and Kauko Rasanen (“Only One Earth” and “Secret of Faith”). He chose to develop the theme of Inspiration from an entirely artistic perspective.

ELISCU: The creation of a work of art is like nothing else in the world, for hidden in the clay, the canvas, the musical instrument, or whatever medium is the artist’s alter ego, there is waiting to be brought out a thing of beauty. The artist needs one thing above all others to do this: INSPIRATION.

As the theme took shape in his mind, stimulated by the work of the European artists, Eliscu hastened to translate his creative thoughts into three dimensional forms. He worked intensely, burning with the heat of creativity. His fingers rapidly shaped clay forms of Pegasus, the Greek mythological horse, symbol of INSPIRATION, artistic ability, creativity.

For Pegaus had come to mean INSPIRATION. How, then, to best show Pegasus? And how to show Pegasus in the new medium of the multi-part medal? Pegasus – legendary deity – born of Poseidon and Medusa. The winged horse had fired up the creative flames of millions of artists. Now here was the opportunity for the Artist to pay tribute to that patron saint of INSPIRATION for all time in a very distinctive, yet artistic way!

THE DESIGN

Pegasus emerged from the artist’s clay as the recurring theme, dominating the obverse and reverse designs. Pegasus is also the subject of the two internal surfaces which can be viewed only when the medal is parted.

While the medal has four surfaces, only three models were required from the artist – the center model would serve for both internal surfaces, convex and concave reliefs of the same design.

ELISCU: This medal was an act of creation inspired by one Idea: its three designs form a trinity of that Idea.

Inspiration released. The obverse shows Pegasus, symbolic of artistic inspiration, being released from the hand of God. This act takes place in heaven and is in contrast to the rest of the medal where the locale is that of earth. The winged horse is springing from its confinement, caught in the moment of first freedom. This is the conception of Inspiration, where God is releasing this force for the use of mankind if only he can harness it.

Man captures Inspiration. The two interface surfaces – one design – show man the artist harnessing the elusive Pegasus by the use of tools. There are four elements here: Man, Pegasus, the intertwining ropes or straps symbolic of man’s tools, and the ring of flames. Man reaches for the moment of inspiration, the open-mouthed Pegasus is caught for a fleeting instant only, momentarily haltered while the artist captures the idea he is seeking. The ring of flames is an earth symbol, man in his own world.

Man and Inspiration in harmony. The heads of man and Pegasus are shown on the reverse; the bearded artist with a wreath of laurel, symbolic of accomplishment and victory over creative forces. The heads are shown in artistic repose, the harmony is accomplished, the creativity is produced, the work is done.

ELISCU: To have an inspiration, or to capture Pegasus, does not in itself create beauty or art. The artist mush have an inspiration harmonious with his medium.

The three designs, then, come together to form the whole. The four surfaces unite to make a single statement. The medal expresses man’s perpetual search for beauty, and the artist’s perpetual search for Inspiration.

ELISCU: Inspiration is a concept, to be valid it must be original and beautiful. In this medal, not only do Man and Pegasus appear, but they are as one. Inspiration is a oneness of the design, in harmony with the artist, and in tribute to the eternal search for beauty.


THE ARTIST

Creating a medal on Inspiration, even such an innovative one, came easy to a very creative Connecticut artist. Not only is Frank Eliscu an accomplished sculptor, author and teacher, but also a craftsman in many media – crystal, wax, slate, clay – and an authority on casting bronze. In fact, he has written textbooks on most of these subjects.

As a young boy Eliscu modeled figures using candles softened in hot water. He studied at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, Pratt Institute, and under sculptor Rudulph Evans. With maturing study, increasing recognition and a growing list of commissions, came the development of a highly individualize technique which has remained with the artist during an active career.

Among his commissions include slate carvings, sculpture in the round, and heroic reliefs, all in distinctive Eliscu style. These are complemented by a number of well executed medals, notably a Society of Medalists issue, the Architectural League of New York Collaborative Medal, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica Bicentennial Medal.

Eliscu’s sculptural forms are, as art curator Beatrice Proske once said, “lean forms in action, wrought with sharp detail to give an impression of wiry strength and nervous energy.” An excellent example to illustrate that statement is the artist’s Inspiration Medal: lean forms caught in the moment of most significance; with nervous energy of movement captured in a medallic masterpiece!

THE MEDALLIST

Innovation and creativity are nothing new to Medallic Art Company, which produced the Inspiration Medal. The company was the first in America to reduce and cut dies from sculptors’ original models. Previously, engravers were required to handcut all dies, tediously working in exact size of the intended medal or coin.

The firm imported the first Janvier pantograph into America. This amazing machine, as delicate as a Swiss watch, simultaneously cuts a die as it miraculously reproduces all the detail, all the relief, of the sculptor’s original pattern.

Medallic Art produced the first medal with a moving part, that of a magnet, for General Electric’s dedication ceremony of its West Milton, New York, atomic plant in 1955.

The firm produced the first medal with a Braille inscription: a fine art medal for the Library of Congress Division of the Blind, the Francis Joseph Campbell Medal, 1966, by Bruce Moore.

The firm also produced the fist bimetal medal – with a clad strip of silver on a bronze base – for the 1967 centennial of Handy & Harmon, the precious metal dealers.

So innovation is not new to Medallic Art Company. It is proud to have produced Frank Eliscu’s Inspiration Medal and to have added it to a growing list of famous firsts. Here, then, is America’s fist multi-part medal, inspired by Inspiration itself, stimulated by the invention of a new medallic art form in Europe, created by a talented and gifted artist in Connecticut.

It remains only for art lovers and collectors the world over to accept it for what it is: a thing of beauty and joy forever!

D. Wayne Johnson

MEDALLIC ART COMPANY
Medalists to America since 1900
Old Ridgebury Road
Danbury, Conn. 06810
(203)792-3000
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