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Elie Nadelman: Sculptor of Modern Life

Haskell, Barbara

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ISBN 10: 0874271304 / ISBN 13: 9780874271300
Published by March 1, 2003, New York, 2003
Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Elie Nadelman: Sculptor of Modern Life

Publisher: March 1, 2003, New York

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine

About this title


This is a comprehensive study of the work of Elie Nadelman (1882-1946), an important sculptor and a key member of the New York art scene in the first half of the 20th century. It accompanies a major retrospective of Nadelman's work. Nadelman fused classical influences with the subject matter and imagery of popular culture. Using bronze, marble, wood and plaster, he created stylized, curvilinear emblems of modern life whose formal motifs referenced both the antique and the modern.


A prominent Polish émigré artist of the 1910s and ‘20s, Elie Nadelman brought continental wit and style to American sculpture in an improbable way--by combining elements of ancient Greek sculpture and folk art. In Elie Nadelman: Sculptor of Modern Life, noted art historian Barbara Haskell offers a lively account of the artist's career. Influenced by the abstract qualities of Symbolism and Jugendstil while still living in Europe, he developed a style of simplified geometric forms and smooth surfaces in sculptures of svelte nudes and "classical" female heads with blank eyes and demure hairdos. The cosmetics queen Helena Rubenstein adored these pieces and became his biggest patron. A happy discovery—-that the cap worn by the god Hermes could be gently tweaked into the outlines of a contemporary man's bowler hat—-sent Nadelman on a fruitful new path. His painted plaster figures of the late 'teens combined whimsy with an ever-so-slight mockery of the American upper class he had come to know. (In 1919 he married an heiress.) Curiously, these pieces hit a nerve, upsetting patrons and unleashing damning reviews. In the 1920s, his figures in marble or papier-mâché acquired softened contours and a more introverted quality. During his final decade, after he had lost both his fortune and his prized folk art collection, he created his most unbuttoned body of work--palm-sized, ambiguously sexual miniature figures that cannot stand up on their own. Nadelman's reputation is well served by this meticulously designed book with 245 reproductions in color and black-and-white. --Cathy Curtis

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