Frank Talks

Jonathan Prince – Artist & Founder, Berkshire House

Courtesy Jonathan Prince Studio
Courtesy Jonathan Prince Studio

Creativity is a foundational element of my life and spiritual practice. I explore the ideas that I’m investigating and look for ways to convert them to form.

– Jonathan Prince

For sculptor Jonathan Prince, art is a journey that contemplates science, technology, and an ongoing investigation of spirituality. His work balances precision and imperfection, congruent with the inevitable dualities found in life. Through stretching the limitations of his materials, Prince finds possibility within vulnerability – beauty in the chaos. 

Born in New York City, Prince has been living and working in The Berkshires of Massachusetts for the last two decades. As a young teenager, Prince was introduced to cubist sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, whom he apprenticed with on weekends. He consequently built a studio in his parent’s basement where he taught himself sculptural methods, taking cues from some of the sculpture greats: Jean Arp, Barbara Hepworth, Isamu Noguchi, and Constantin Brancusi. Despite his early interest in sculpture, Prince’s prowess for science and technology led him to become a maxillofacial surgeon. 

Prince turned to his passion for sculpture once again in 2002. His background in science, technology, and medicine are uniquely reflected in his practice as a sculptor. To realize this multidisciplinary vision, he has built a world-class fabrication facility in the Berkshires, and team through which he is involved at every step of the creative process. 

Where are you from and what is the arts community like there? How has your upbringing shaped what you do in the arts today?

When I was 12 years old my father brought me to his friend’s house – the great sculptor Jacques Lipschitz. At that time, Lipschitz was working on a monumental bust of JFK and when he asked me to help him add clay and start shaping a section – I was hooked. From that moment on I was in love with sculpture.

What have been the greatest accomplishments and challenges in your career thus far?

There are really no accomplishments that stand out as there have been so many milestones that have occurred, each with their own effect, which has propelled the recognition of my work and the success of my practice.

Tell us more about your sculpture practice, as well as your current exhibition “Elemental Matters”?

One of the unique things about my practice is that everything, regardless of scale, has been fabricated at my own studio here in The Berkshires. “Elemental Matters” at Chesterwood (the home of the Lincoln Memorial Sculptor, Daniel Chester French) has been an opportunity for me to share twelve monumental and large scale works in the most beautiful natural setting within my own community.

You and your partner, Stephanie Manasseh, are the co-founders of Berkshire House. Can you tell us more about this project?

Berkshire house came about when Stephanie and I were considering ways to extend the conversations we were having about creativity, art, and open heartedness. We wanted to share what we were doing here at our home and studio with as many like-minded people as we could and that was the birth of Berkshire House.

What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?

There are actually many art worlds so it’s impossible to give generalized advice. In my world – primarily a sculptor – my advice is to learn as much about yourself as possible and always have the creative work explore the results. Have your work and your life be honest – with integrity at the central core of it all.

What are you most excited for this year at Berkshire House or in the art world as a whole?

There are many exciting things going on at the moment as two simultaneous exhibitions at Chesterwood and Sohn Fine art Gallery in Lenox, MA, are attracting collectors, curators and art lovers to visit us at Berkshire House. We have several collaborations going on including a series of cast glass works with Czech artist, Zdenek Lhotsky. Other projects that I’m quite excited about include functional works that we are creating here and a sculptural lighting project that is about to get underway with a well-known global lighting and furniture design company.

How do you think the art world can become more transparent?

Perhaps the mystery of the art world is its lack of transparency – so why fix it if it isn’t broken.

What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?

Stephanie and I recently went to MoMA and what I really enjoyed seeing were all the great blockbuster works that the museum has in their collection. For me it was like seeing your favorite movie star walking down the street and saying hello to them.

If you could own work by 5 different artists, who would be in your collection?

I admire so many artists but I am really focused on three dimensional work. My choices would be Isamu Noguchi, Barbara Hepworth, Richard Serra, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor.

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