[image: Altina Schinasi]
Altina Schinasi was an artist ahead of her time. Born in 1907 in New York City to a wealthy Sephardic Jewish family, Schinasi defied societal expectations and carved her own niche in the male-dominated art world of the 20th century. She was not only a visionary artist but also an inventor and a strong advocate for social and political causes.
Schinasi’s artistic journey began at a young age. Despite her family’s disapproval, she enrolled in art school and immersed herself in the vibrant art scene of New York City. Inspired by the works of the European avant-garde, Schinasi developed a unique style characterized by bold colors and abstract forms. Her paintings often depicted powerful female figures and explored themes of identity, feminism, and spirituality.
One of Schinasi’s most notable achievements was the invention of the Harlequin Glasses in the 1930s. These distinctive eyeglasses featured a geometric design on the lenses, creating a kaleidoscope-like effect when worn. Schinasi’s invention revolutionized the eyewear industry, blending fashion with functionality. Celebrities and fashion icons, including Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy, were often seen sporting these avant-garde glasses.
Beyond her artistic pursuits, Altina Schinasi was a passionate advocate for social and political causes. She used her art as a platform to address issues such as racial inequality, women’s rights, and the plight of refugees. Schinasi’s artwork often carried a strong social message, challenging the status quo and advocating for change. Her commitment to activism extended beyond the canvas, as she actively participated in protests and supported various organizations fighting for social justice.
Schinasi’s activism was particularly evident during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. She marched alongside prominent figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, using her voice and art to demand equality and justice. Schinasi believed in the power of art to effect change and inspire social progress, and she used her platform to make a difference.
Despite her undeniable talent and contributions to the art world, Altina Schinasi’s work remained underappreciated for much of her life. However, in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in her art and legacy. Exhibitions showcasing her paintings and Harlequin Glasses have garnered acclaim, shedding light on her groundbreaking contributions to art and design.
Schinasi’s work serves as a testament to the power of creativity and innovation. Her bold and unconventional artistic style continues to inspire contemporary artists, while her invention of the Harlequin Glasses remains a testament to her groundbreaking spirit. Altina Schinasi was not just an artist; she was a visionary, a trailblazer, and a fierce advocate for social change.