Dominique St. Cyr is an American figurative artist with a speciality in erotic art, born in Shanghai and residing in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
About the Artist
Dominique Martin StCyr
Born in Shanghai, China, in 1957 to Hungarian immigrants, Nathan and Filomena Finkelstein, who had escaped Russian invasion the year before her birth, Dominique seemed destined to artistic exploration of humanity’s underside.
Her father was a banker and entrepreneur who became a successful manufacturer and exporter of ergonomic vibrators. His enterprise led him to become heavily involved in the urban nightlife of Shanghai, as well as to a lifelong addiction to alcohol and predilection for young prostitutes. One young lady in particular, Feng Shui, captured his fancy and became his mistress.
In 1966, Dominique’s mother, Filomena, discovered her husband’s infidelities and confronted the couple in the apartment where Nathan had installed Feng Shui. Filomena vowed that she would divorce Nathan and ruin him, but upon returning home that night she committed suicide by unraveling a fly swatter and slashing her wrists with the wire. She also stabbed herself, puncturing a lung and causing her demise. Although the official cause of death was listed by Shanghai police as “death by self-mutilation,” the expat European elite of Shanghai joked that “Finkelstein ended Filomena with suicide by insecticide.”
After Filomena’s death, Dominique’s father moved Feng Shui into their home and continued to focus on his thriving business. Feng Shui eventually gave birth to Dominique’s half-sister, Naomi. Although Dominique despised Feng Shui and blamed her for her mother’s death, she willingly took on the care of Naomi, and developed a strong bond with her sister. She credits Naomi with inspiring her to pursue her studies in art, and her half-sister is the subject of a number of her most important sculptures.
As Dominique cared for Naomi, she was disturbed by her father’s keen attentions towards the little girl. She spied him often taking Naomi out late at night, not returning for some time. Feng Shui was dependent upon Nathan and would not reproach him for his inappropriate behavior. Dominique’s efforts to protect Naomi led to her own departure from the house. Later, Naomi figures in her most famous piece, “The Delicate Rose,” sometimes referred to as “The Unplucked Flower.”
Dominique convinced her father to allow her to study sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Bucharest, where she matriculated with a Magna Summa Cumma. But during her tenure at the college, her father’s business was severely impacted by the rise of export duties on his goods, decimating the bottom line. Out of need to supplement her depleted income, Dominique became involved in the Bucharest night scene as a dancer and exhibitionist. Her experiences during this time became inspiration for her most famous subjects.
Dominique aligned herself with many artists of the past who found inspiration in the drama of urban nightlife: Lautrec, Degas, and Renoir, for example. Like them, she was fascinated by the array of human emotion within the brother halls and theatres of all ilk. She deemed herself an explorer of a strange new world, as steaming and tangled as the jungles of the Amazon, and she examined the life around her with the keen eye of an artist and a student of human nature. At this time, still performing in theatres as well as videos, she was also gaining a reputation as a talented and sought-after actress of sorts.
During this period of her life she created the wonderfully provocative “Hanging Nudes” series. The series represents in bronze a bizarre event she witnessed one evening in Prague. According to her accounts, while at the Pupik Bar, she saw twenty girls suspended from the ceiling by large metal hooks embedded in their skin. The girls were demonstrating their support of Marlon Brando’s refusal of the Academy Award for his role in The Godfather, and were promoting awareness of the plight of the American Indian.
In 1987, Naomi arrived in Cluj, and confirmed to Dominique the nature of her relationship with their father, now long deceased. Nathan did not, however, escape retribution. It was reported that Finkelstein was killed by a young prostitute who ignited a firecracker inside of him during the New Year celebrations in Shanghai. The prostitute escaped during the chaos, and Finkelstein’s body was discovered in a hotel room three days later. His peers joked rather darkly that their friend would have been pleased that he “went out with a bang.”
In spite of Naomi’s abuse by her father and mistreatment by her mother, she grew to be a gentle and generous spirit. She did at times, however, display some quirkiness to her personality that betrayed her tragic upbringing. According to police reports, she was found soliciting sex from men while dressed in a nun’s habit and carrying a bible. During intercourse, she was said to have recited from the book of psalms. For a few years, she became a popular figure in the underground of the city center. Ultimately, Dominique assumed responsibility for Naomi until the younger sister’s untimely death in 1990, from what was diagnosed as “the vapors.”
From 1990 to the present, Dominique Martin StCyr has devoted her work to helping victims of abuse reclaim the architectural beauty of their bodies. She maintains that “the shame and horror of the abuse should be released from their skin and contained only in their sculpture, which will then be destroyed in the casting process and remade in bronze, representing the lasting strength of the model.”