Published: November 6, 2007
“Woman: The Art of Gaston Lachaise” will be on view November 17⁆ebruary 17 at the Nasher Sculpture Center. This is the first major museum retrospective of the artist’s work to be shown in Texas.
Featuring more than 40 sculptures, including eight monumental works, drawn from the collection of the Lachaise Foundation, “Woman: The Art of Gaston Lachaise” will present the full scope of the artist’s sculptural production and highlights his idealized vision of the female form.
Transcendent, beatific and powerful, the female figures in “Woman: The Art of Gaston Lachaise” reflect his admiration for ancient Egyptian, Hindu and pre-Columbian sculptures of female deities. They also evince a reverence for the modern American woman, and one in particular: Isabel Nagel Lachaise, the love who served as his single guiding inspiration throughout his career.
Writing of his work and her tremendous influence, Lachaise recounted, “At 20 in Paris, I met a young American person who immediately became the primary inspiration, which awakened my vision and the leading influence that has directed my forces. Throughout my career, as an artist, I refer to this person by the word, ‘Woman.'”
Lachaise’s pursuit of Isabel and the ideal she represented brought him to Boston and New York, where he established himself in the studio of the prominent American sculptor Paul Manship, and became an integral figure in the burgeoning avant-garde.
Several daring busts in the exhibition document his friendships with artists and literary figures such as Edgar Varése, Alfred Stieglitz and e.e. cummings. His sculptures of the mythical “Woman,” robust, sensual and curvaceous, drew praise for modernizing the concept of the ancient idol.
Many of his time found them shocking, and many of the sculptures on view here were not cast during his lifetime because the artist viewed them as too scandalous to be shown in public. Much of his art was not shown until the 1960s and even then the public was surprised by his radical and dramatic portrayal of the female form.
When he died prematurely in 1935, Lachaise was considered by many the preeminent sculptor in the United States. His groundbreaking work had just been honored that year in a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the first that institution had afforded to any living American sculptor.
Now his sculpture graces the collections of prominent museums across the country, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection.
“Lachaise’s iconic work, ‘Elevation (1912′7),’ was given pride of place in the entrance of the Nasher home,” notes Jed Morse, the Nasher Sculpture Center’s acting chief curator. “Mr Nasher was very excited about the possibility of presenting this exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center, and he would be pleased to know that it has come to fruition.” Nasher Sculpture Center Founder Raymond D. Nasher died earlier this year.
The exhibition was organized by the Lachaise Foundation, Boston, in association with Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York. The exhibition tour is organized and managed by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles. A lavishly illustrated color catalog, Gaston Lachaise 1882‱935, accompanies the exhibition.
The Nasher Sculpture Center is at 2001 Flora Street. For information, 214-242-5100 or www.nashersculpturecenter.org .
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