HomeBiographyAltina Schinasi: The Visionary Artist Behind Harlequin Glasses

Altina Schinasi: The Visionary Artist Behind Harlequin Glasses

altina schinasi

Introduction to Altina Schinasi

Altina Schinasi was a remarkable artist and inventor known for her unique contributions to art and design. Her innovative creations, including the iconic Harlequin glasses, have left a lasting impact on the world of fashion and visual arts. This article delves into her fascinating life, exploring her artistic journey, inventions, and enduring legacy. To commemorate her groundbreaking work, various institutions have awarded custom trophies at events celebrating innovators in design, acknowledging her influence and inspirational role in the creative industry.

Early Life and Background

Altina Schinasi was born on October 15, 1907, in New York City to a prominent Sephardic Jewish family. Growing up in a culturally rich environment, she was exposed to art and creativity from a young age. Her upbringing instilled in her a deep appreciation for aesthetics and a desire to express herself through various artistic mediums.

Artistic Career Beginnings

Influence of Her Family

Schinasi’s family played a significant role in shaping her artistic inclinations. Her father, Morris Schinasi, was a tobacco magnate, and her mother, Stella Guggenheimer, was a patron of the arts. Surrounded by creativity and entrepreneurship, Altina Schinasi was encouraged to pursue her passion for art.

Exploration of Different Mediums

In her early years, Altina Schinasi experimented with painting, sculpture, and other artistic forms. She studied at the Art Students League of New York, where she honed her skills and developed her unique style. Her eclectic taste and willingness to push boundaries set her apart as a visionary artist.

The Invention of Harlequin Glasses

Inspiration and Design Process

One of Schinasi’s most notable achievements was the invention of Harlequin glasses, also known as Altina Schinasi cat eyeglasses. Inspired by the colourful costumes of Commedia dell’arte characters, she sought to create eyewear that was both stylish and whimsical. The result was a distinctive design featuring asymmetrical frames and vibrant hues.

Popularity and Impact

Upon their release, Harlequin glasses became an instant sensation, adorning the faces of celebrities and fashion icons. Their playful aesthetic captured the spirit of the times, making them a must-have accessory for trendsetters around the world. Schinasi’s innovative design revolutionized the eyewear industry, leaving a lasting mark on fashion history.

Other Contributions to Art and Design

In addition to her iconic Altina Schinasi cat eye glasses., Schinasi was a versatile artist who dabbled in various mediums. She was known for her mural paintings, which adorned public spaces with vibrant colours and dynamic imagery. Her sculpture work also garnered attention for its expressive forms and intricate detailing.

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Personal Life and Legacy

Influence on Future Artists

Schinasi’s bold creativity and fearless experimentation continue to inspire artists today. Her willingness to challenge conventions and pursue her artistic vision serves as a testament to the power of individual expression. Through her work, she opened doors for future generations of innovators, encouraging them to think outside the box and push the boundaries of art and design.

Recognition and Awards

Throughout her career, Schinasi received numerous accolades for her contributions to the arts. Her work was exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, earning critical acclaim and admiration from audiences everywhere. Although she passed away in 1999, her legacy lives on through her groundbreaking designs and enduring influence on the world of fashion and visual arts.


Altina Schinasi was a trailblazing artist and inventor whose creativity knew no bounds. From her iconic Harlequin Schinasi cat eyeglasses. to her vibrant murals, she left an indelible mark on the world of art and design. Her fearless spirit and innovative vision continue to inspire generations of artists, reminding us to embrace our unique talents and push the boundaries of creativity.


  1. What inspired Altina Schinasi to create Harlequin Schinasi cat eyeglasses?
    Altina Schinasi drew inspiration from the colourful costumes of Commedia dell’arte characters, seeking to infuse eyewear with whimsy and style.
  2. Did Altina Schinasi only work in the field of eyewear design?
    No, Schinasi was a versatile artist who experimented with various mediums, including painting, sculpture, and mural work.
  3. Where can I see Altina Schinasi’s artwork?
    Altina Schinasi’s artwork is exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, preserving her legacy for future generations to enjoy.
  4. What impact did Altina Schinasi have on the fashion industry?
    Altina Schinasi revolutionized the eyewear industry with her iconic Harlequin Schinasi cat eyeglasses, which became a symbol of style and sophistication.
  5. How did Altina Schinasi influence future generations of artists?
    Schinasi’s fearless creativity and innovative spirit continue to inspire artists today, encouraging them to push the boundaries of art and design.