The Hunt for Function
Wilhelm Hunt Diederich was a metal sculptor known for his sleek, yet sensitive metal designs. Following the famed adage of William Morris, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful,” Diederich designed fire screens and candlesticks that featured stunning willowy animal forms. Expertly executed with the assistance of the Greenwich Village Blacksmiths, Diederich sought to make his art truly democratic for all. Often depicting zoological forms in play or combat, his works, both two and three-dimensional, feature his signature sense drama and are imbued with an exhilarating narrative. In the present lot, the horse is poised for movement with one hoof rearing up, and the rest of the body is taut with energy.
Classically trained at both the Boston Art School and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Diederich combined his academic training with the folk styles he grew up with in Switzerland and Hungary. As a child, he made paper cut-outs of animals in the Germanic tradition known as Fraktur. Drawing from this folk practice, Diederich updated the technique and crafted dynamic sculptures in the latest Art Deco style. After finishing his formal training, Diederich moved abroad to Paris, where he socialized with artists such as Elie Nadelman, Fernand Léger, and Jules Pascin. These artists working in modernism inspired Diederich, and his style evolved to include slender and streamlined sculpture that combined the old with the new.
Animals seem to me truly plastic. They possess such a supple, unspoiled rhythm.
Wilhelm Hunt Diederich