Actor Anthony Quinn, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Alexis Zorba in the legendary 1964 film, ZORBA THE GREEK, was also a prolific painter and sculptor. The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago is showcasing 80 of his works, as well as a replica of Quinn’s studio where he created his art until his 80s.
The exhibit opened on June 19 with a special reception. Quinn’s widow, Katherine, was in attendance. The evening also included recognition of local recipients of The Anthony Quinn Scholarship for Art. Proceeds from the reception benefitted the scholarship fund.
“I think he was a wonderful actor because he was such a good artist,” said Katherine. “To be a good artist you have to be a great observer of human beings.”
Born Antonio Rodolfo Quinn Oaxaca in Mexico 100 years ago and raised in East Los Angeles, Quinn gained fame as an actor playing ethnic roles. The talented actor embodied multiple ethnicities and skillfully brought his characters to life, including his Oscar-nominated performance as Zorba. He began creating art at an early age, and at 17, entered a contest which won him an apprenticeship under architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
According to Wikipedia, Quinn had no formal art training, but did take some art classes in Chicago in the 1950s. It has been said that Lloyd Wright encouraged Quinn to take acting lessons as a form of post-operative speech therapy. And the rest as they say, is history.
The multifaceted Quinn is also the writer of two memoirs: Original Sin (1972) and One Man Tango (1997), as well as many scripts and a series of unpublished stories, which are included in the archive of his collections.
“I’m Anthony Quinn: son, brother, migrant farmer, student, lover, actor, husband, father, sculptor, painter, arrogant bastard. I am Mexican, Irish, Indian, American, Italian, Greek, Spanish, Chinese, Eskimo, Muslim. . . . Above all though, I am an artist. This was my beginning and it will be my end.”
“Transcending Boundaries: The Art of Anthony Quinn” runs through October 2015.
The National Hellenic Museum is located at 333 S. Halsted Street in Chicago’s Greektown. Phone 312.655.1234.