The Minoan Statuary of Arthur Lee Anderson

Arthur Lee Anderson lived in Athens, Greece during the late sixties and early seventies where he went to the American Community Schools. One of the most reknown stone cutters in the world, Arthur has a passion for Greece and Greek art, and his statues, made from precious and semi-precious stone are probably the highest form of Minoan art still being practiced.
Arthur Lee Anderson's work is recognized worldwide for his original gem designs and techniques. His work has pioneered a form of gem cutting which opens up the top of the stone as a window into the interior. He designs within the interior of the stone using light and optics as his palette. Previous gem cutting generally neglected the internal dimensions of the stone His work has captured 11 national American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) "Cutting Edge" awards for gemstone design and execution. In 1997 Anderson received what is considered the highest award among gemstone designers - 1st Place award in Idar Oberstein, Germany. Held once every three years this international competition is subject to the strictest jurying by experts from the European Gemstone community. His 1st Place award in the "28th German Award for Jewelry and Precious Stones Idar Oberstein 1997" brought him worldwide recognition for his original designs and techniques.
Anderson's work appears in magazines and journals worldwide, museums -including the Smithsonian-and in private collections as well as Gems and Gemology.

The Statuary

"......A number of years ago while looking through a book on ancient art at a freind' ancient minoan figure's house, I came upon a figurine that mesmerized me. For months afterwards, I kept seeing this figure in my mind and it was a beautiful, primal figure in blazing gem materials. A woman, breasts open, holding two snakes. The figure I had seen in the book was a clay statuette of a Minoan Figure, circa 1700 b.c.

I realized that the figure I had been seeing in my mind was something I had to create.

The Minoan culture flourished on the island of Crete from about 2000 b.c. to 1400 b.c. when it was devastated by tidal waves and earth quakes from the eruption of the volcanic island of Thera. The Minoan civilization created extensive works of art, frescoes, statuary, etc. as well as a written language, ' Linear A' which has never been successfully translated. As it has never been translated, there is no explanation of who or what the figure holding the snakes represents though she is commonly referred to as the 'Snake Goddess'. I like that aspect of her, that essentially she is whatever a person brings to viewing her....To me she is primal, strong, sublime, erotic, powerful...An archetype.

The first statue in the series, entitled 'Journey", consists of approximately 250 separate pieces of gem materials including alabaster, tourmaline, jasper, lapis lazuli, epidote, ruby and obsidian. I work without drawings, the template is a feel I have for her and the design elements unfold as she is being created. The first statue, standing approximately 8 inches high, took 6 months to execute and has since been sold to a private collector.

The name 'Journey came to me in a dream. About the time I was completing the first state I lay down to sleep and had a dream. In the dream a red headed woman was in a a car with me. I drove to a field and stopped. She looked at me puzzled, with an imploring expression. I told her 'go ahead, its ok..go' encouraging her to get out of the car. She smiled at me, opened the door and ran across the field. In the dream the woman's name was 'Journey'. I awoke and saw the statue sitting on my workbench. The statue had red hair and I realized the dream was about her, bringing her back, letting her go...I named the first statue 'Journey

('..Please see the August 1992 issue of the Lapidary Journal Magazine for a comprehensive description of the process of creating this statue.")

As I was completing the first statue the second statue came to me in it's entirety. I saw a very expansive somewhat angelic figure in white. I realized that this was going to be a series, 9 works in all, each one the same figure, evolving over time both as my skills increased and as other elements developed.

The second statue, entitled '2nd Journey' consists of alabaster, magnasite, sugilite, spinel, black jade, agate, coral, emerald, and obsidian. Again approximately 250 pieces and 8 inches tall.

The third statue came to me in it's entirety as well. She is very grounded, caught in mid step in a dance, about to put her foot down on the earth. She is black jade, obsidian, turquoise, lapis lazuli, tourmaline, emerald, nephrite jade and a base of carrerra marble. Entitled '3rd Journey/The Priestess. "This statue has been sold to a private collection."
The fourth statue, 'Leigha', just completed, was 2 years from inception to completion. She stands 2 1/2 feet tall, a departure from the others not only in scale but in technique as well. In this statue her entire body was sculpted first out of marble with the clothes, consisting of gem materials, applied later. The clothing contains over 1000 pieces of garnet, black jade, epidote, smokey quartz, citrine, obsidian, basalt, and amber. The emotion is celebratory, happy, strong, powerful..(Please see the Spring 1998 issue of Gems & Gemology for a detailed coverage of the creation of this piece.)

By following one theme through a series that will ultimately take well over two decades to execute, there is an evolution that wouldn't appear in single pieces of differing natures. The technique of three dimensional intarsia has not been done much this century. It is perhaps the single most labor intensive form of gem art. It requires a certain commitment to the process that in normal business considerations would be too impractical for most to attempt.

The statues are, to use a clicked phrase,
a work of passion..."

In 1973 as a teenager, Arthur Anderson was arrested for possession of hashish in Athens, Greece. He spent a year in prison and then was exiled for life from the adopted country he loved. He has longed to return since then and it is this longing for the land of his youth that fuels his creativity.

E-mail Arthur at

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