John Fisher - Biography


At age 12, John traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East with his family and archeologist father, seeing first hand the great masterpieces of classical art. He graduated from Claremont High, Claremont, CA, with an award for outstanding achievement in art and a portfolio of work including a series of life size clay sculptures. After moving to the Bay area, John went on to produce numerous figurative bronzes supporting his endeavors by painting watercolors and large scale murals. This lead to a period of painting billboards at which time John moved to Philadelphia. It was here that he began to carve marble and soon after, left for Italy. 

Pietrasanta (Holy Stone), Italy is home to an international artist colony. It was here that Michelangelo quarried his marble for the Medici Tomb, commissioned by pope Leo V, and more recently, it was home to artists such as Moore, Arp and Nagucci. John’s first trip to Pietrasanta was fueled by his desire to use the highest quality marble for his creations. He returned to Pennsylvania and carved his first serious pieces whose sales enabled his return to Italy. John’s love for the monumental works that he had seen as a young person ignited his passion for larger-scale work. The first of these, sold through a prominent New York gallery, financed his early years in Pietrasanta, where he has resided since 1987. John has relationships with the marble quarries of the Alpian Alps dating to his early years in Italy. He personally goes up to the mountain to select his stones, which often are un-cut pieces of the mountain, with natural surfaces on all sides. He has done several monuments in honor of the quarry workers that have endeared him to them. They have seen him work and can respect his honest, hands-on approach. They are proud of their stone, which is the best in the world, and appreciate someone who tributes them with works that comes from the heart, thanking them for their dangerous labors. Because of his many years of experience handling stone, his familiarity with sea and land transport and all aspects of the stone industry, he can provide the highest quality marble, carve it, and install it, anywhere in the world. His kind of skill in carving the figure is rapidly vanishing from the planet. John’s ability to incorporate ideas from clients, or communities, who commission his work, and yet still maintain his vision, makes him all the more unique. Owners of his works, never tire of them. On the contrary, they continue to grow more attached as time goes on. This can be vividly seen in the number of patrons that have established relationships that have gone well beyond the purchase of his work. He has carved well over 200 sculptures, while living in Italy, many of them monumental in scale. 

The contemporary marble scene is almost exclusively abstract. The world trend of installations, video and shock art do not inspire John. He admires the haunting mystery of “Stonehenge”, the passion of Camille Claudel and the power of Michelangelo. He seeks to combine these elements into his own personal expression, drawing from life experiences such as having a child or losing a loved one. 

John is most interested in combining sculpture and architecture in compositions of massive blocks, cut to fit together to form an arch, a wall or a quiet space for reflection and contemplation. His work could be incorporated into buildings or homes during construction phases, thus leaving massive sculptures within the structure that could also serve as bearing walls or columns.

You can see John’s work is in public and private collections throughout Europe and the United States. He has been featured on the National Geographic program “Zip Codes” and on the PBS’s “The Lonely Planet” segment on “Tuscany”. He has been written about in articles in “Sculpture Magazine” concerning important studios in Tuscany and the French publication, “Le Mausolée” which dealt with his amazing public carvings.

Besides doing figurative sculpture, John also has extensive experience with blacksmithing, ceramics and glass-blowing; he has illustrated children’s books and helped to build a 40 ft., 30 ton sail boat, creating all the bronze alloyed hardware, including the anchor and wench. His work with children on a huge mural at his daughter’s elementary school in Italy, won a first place prize for school project in Italy, awarded by Italy’s President, Champi at the Presidential Palace in Rome.

Beyond the sale of his existing works, John is also strongly interested in working on commissioned projects. Commissioning a work from Mr. Fisher would involve discussions about the project and a number of preliminary drawings. With the ease of e-mail, images can be sent to clarify the intended work. As John’s process is spontaneous, the client must realize that small changes will occur in the final work. Upon receipt of a deposit, of one third of the agreed upon price, John would seek out and purchase the materials for the proposed sculpture. He would be available to either do the work at his studio in Italy or work on location. 

John lives in Fort Bragg, California with his wife Sandy Oppenheimer, an outstanding mixed media painter. They moved there in August of 2005 after having spent almost twenty years in the small village of Querceta, just 3km from Pietrasanta in northern Tuscany.