The French-born Gaston Lachaise studied Beaux-Arts cabinetry and jewelry until his move to the United States in 1906. Working under the sculptor Paul Manship (1885 – 1966), the young Lachaise began a sculptural career of radical exaggeration of the human figure. Like his mentor’s work, Lachaise’s work emphasizes the volume of the human form, expressing heroic scales. Lachaise is credited with advancing modernist sculpture for pressing the boundaries of figural distortion, expressively manipulating the thighs and breasts of his women to monumental proportions. These exaggerations were heralded as modernist responses to primitive fertility goddess carvings, erotically charged and vividly animated. He indelibly associated himself with the leading artists and critics of his day with sculptural portraits, including John Marin, Georgia O’Keeffe and Lincoln Kirstein. His volumetric nudes decorate the facade of Rockefeller Center, and his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1935 was the first given to a living sculptor.
The present work was cast from a stone carving. From the original stone, a plaster mold was made. Lachaise had two bronzes cast from this mold, sometime after 1928. The Lachaise Foundation authorized an edition of posthumous casts from the same plaster, distinguished by its longer neck. The present work is an example of this longer-necked cast.
The Lachaise Foundation was founded in 1963 upon the death of the sculptor’s widow, Isabel Lachaise. The foundation has executed a limited number of bronze casts from plaster in keeping with the artist’s wishes. The present work bears the stamp of the Foundation, having been cast by the Modern Art Foundry in accordance with Isabel Lachaise’s will.
We gratefully acknowledge the insights of Virginia Budny.