Gaston Lachaise 1882–1935

Gaston Lachaise was a maverick of sculpture that reinvigorated the depictions of the female form in the early decades of the twentieth century. La Chaise, the son of the cabinetmaker who designed Gustave Eiffel’s apartment in the Eiffel Tower, was born in Paris in 1882. He began studying sculpture at the Ecorl Bernard Palissey at the age of 13 and four years later he was accepted at the Academie Nationale des Beaux-Arts where he received formal classical training under Gabriel Jules Thomas. In 1902-03 Lachaise fell in love with an American woman, Isabel Dutaud Nagle, who was living in Paris while her son was educated there. Nagle would become the source inspiration for almost all of Lachaise’s nude studies.

Called by ARTnews the ‘greatest American sculptor of his time,’ Lachaise created remarkable portraits of the literary, social and artistic figures of his time. He played a critical role in the birth of American Modernism, pushing the boundaries of nude figuration with his innovative portrayals of the female body. Although he is mostly known for his voluptuous sculptures of women, Lachaise also produced pencil drawings of his nude studies. The drawings show the naked figure, often female, in the same curvaceous style of his sculptures, heightening the sensual forms of the body. These drawings offer a two-dimensional glimpse into Lachaise's blueprints for his most celebrated sculptures. In 1935, Lachaise was honored with the first retrospective given to a living artist at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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