Yesterday I arrived at Roehampton House a stranger. Just another admirer among the legions of fans of the great artist and sculptor Richard Minns. But after several hours, dining with him and his wife, working out with him in the private gym the former bodybuilder had himself designed, something happened.
Of all the actual precious mementos I’d acquired during this trip, Richard and Mary Minns were the true crown jewels of my visit, a double diadem of rare grace and sparkling wit.
Three similarities that fed this instant attraction:
Richard and I both grew up in interfaith households, he as the son of an Irish father and Jewish mother, who raised him on a ranch in Texas. My mix was Louisiana Catholic (mom) and Jewish dad from New York.
We both love fitness – though my daily yoga is nothing compared to the athletic prowess of this 12-record-holder in endurance sports. In addition to diving off 170 foot Mexican cliffs and water skiing nonstop at age 70 around the Sea of Galilee, perhaps his most famous feat is subduing two Great White Sharks (one weighing over 3,000 pounds) in hand to hand combat.
We both love Ayn Rand. “I read The Fountainhead when I was 14, right when it came out, and for many years slept with the book by the side of my bed,” Richard told me as he gave me a tour of his library and his art. “I was 26 when Atlas Shrugged came out in 1957, and it inspired me with its vision of man as heroic being, an innovator, and an entrepreneur. It definitely motivated me to achieve, whether in the fitness club industry or a fine artist.”
All three of these touchpoints show up in his work, and his life. His relationship with his Jewish heritage deepened as he matured. In Israel, Richard and Mary found a unique resonance with the sense of life among the citizens of the Jewish State – so much so they ended up moving and living there in a glamorous high rise penthouse for 18 years.
Richard also interprets stories and heroes from the Bible, including one on display in his foyer, “Against Goliath.” This large bronze nude of an exultant David conveys, in the words of the artist, “the supreme self-confidence and inner strength which can only come from the knowledge that the power of the Lord is upon him.”
Of his physical dexterity, as athlete and artist, Richard worships the human form in his works. In his hands, clay, wax, wood, bronze and marble are transformed into ideal men and women of anatomical perfection, compelling emotion and maximum movement.
One of my favorites was his sinister and sensual “Samson’s Fatal Haircut,” featured left. Samson’s overwhelming physical superiority is no match for Delilah’s beauty and guile.
Here, also admire the tragedy and heroism of Hercules, in the robust, though pierced and hence faltering form, each sinew suggesting greatness collapsing upon a blind spot – for Hercules, his heel, for each of us, our own inconsistencies.
But for me personally, as the new CEO of the Atlas Society, and a woman for whom Rand’s literature, personal grit and reason-based philosophy have become an unflagging inspiration, obsession, and educational mission, Richard’s tribute to Atlas Shrugged is the most awe-inspiring of all.
His Atlas Shrugged Quadrilogy aspired to capture the philosophy of Ayn Rand herself in a series of four different but interrelated, sculptures.
Atlas I (left): Escape to Freedom is comprised of a composite of Rand’s heroes (John Galt, Hank Rearden, Howard Roark). But it is an angry Atlas, smashing his way out of the World of Collectivism, escaping to freedom, so he can create his own perfect world.
Atlas II (right): Genesis: A New Golden World. Atlas Has created his own perfect world, which is now rising in the air on its own power. No longer is Atlas required to struggle with the world on his shoulders.
Atlas III (left): “I Own the World!” Free from the restraints of collectivism, Atlas is now at the height of his productive powers. He pulls the world behind him as he races to achieve his destiny.
Atlas IV (right): “Together We Are Indomitable!” My own personal favorite, the union of an alpha male and alpha female (Richard’s interpretation of Dagny Taggart). Each physically beautiful, each physically strong, each independent, choosing freely to be together.
What Richard Minns does – manifesting a romantic, heroic view of reality in art – is what Ayn Rand urged artists to do in the Romantic Manifesto. It is what we seek to encourage with the Atlas Art Contest. Our four judges have now culled over 200 entries into 21 finalists, which you can view here. Click Here to View Finalists
Now it’s your turn to judge – to vote – on which of the entries resonates best with you and the theme of The Entrepreneur.
Though already international, the Atlas Art Contest next year will receive a specific sponsorship to encourage emerging artists in Israel to engage with the themes of Blue Sky and Blue Prints, in homage to the hero of Rand’s ideal man, architect Howard Roark.
Along with our four current judges – Sabin Howard, Judd Weiss, Agnieszka Pilat and Michael Newberry, the master sculptor Richard Minns has agreed to chair and help judge an extension of the Art Contest in Israel. Prizes range from $5,000 for first, to $2,500 for second, and $1,000 for third. The promotion of entries and the ultimate voting, first by judges -- then by the public -- will culminate in an award ceremony in Israel.
Though the timing is to be determined, our hope is to have the event coinciding with the Atlas Award for the best Israeli startup, sponsored by the Ayn Rand Institute. Both events pay tribute to the entrepreneur, who is indeed the artist of the business community.
If you know of an Israeli artist who might be interested in entering his work, or would like to attend our awards ceremony, please contact us here.
As Ayn Rand famously said: “Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments.” Richard Minns has recreated a world of heroes, conquerors and creators to which he rightly belongs.