A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art

By Ian Chilvers | Go to book overview
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L

LAA. See LONDON ARTISTS' ASSOCIATION.

Laboratory art. See INKHUK.

Labyrinthe. See SKIRA.

Lacey, Bruce (1927- ). British sculptor and experimental artist, born at Catford, London. After leaving school aged 13, he worked at a variety of jobs. He took up painting while in hospital suffering from tuberculosis, 1947-8, then studied at Hornsey College of Art, 1948-51, and the * Royal College of Art, 1951-4. 'Within a year of leaving it had all gone . . . All I could do was sit in my little attic studio and play with the sunlight'; he stopped painting, and turned to the world of entertainment, working as a knife-thrower among other things. Then in 1962 he began making *environments and the works for which he is best known--witty animated robots, ingeniously constructed of all manner of debris ( Boy Oh Boy, Am I Living, Tate Gallery, London, 1964). 'But Lacey's explosive creativity was short- lived. After his hilarious show at the Marlborough Gallery in 1965, he gradually moved away from sculpture, becoming a performer of rituals at Avebury and elsewhere' (catalogue of the exhibition British Sculpture in the Twentieth Century', Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1981-2). As a Performance artist he works in partnership with his second wife Jill Bruce, whom he married in 1967.

Lachaise, Gaston (1882-1935). French-born sculptor who became an American citizen in 1916. He was born in Paris and his training included a period at the École des *Beaux- Arts. In 1906 he emigrated to the USA, where he became one of the pioneers of modern sculpture. He settled first in Boston, then in 1912 moved to New York, where he became assistant to Paul *Manship. In 1913 he exhibited in the *Armory Show, and he had his first one-man exhibition in 1918, at the Bourgeois Galleries. This established his reputation, and in the 1920s he became 'the darling of the poets and intellectuals associated with The Dial, the leading literary review of the period' ( Hilton *Kramer). His most important patron was Lincoln Kirstein ( 1907-96), a writer and founder of the New York City Ballet.

Lachaise was a consummate craftsman in stone, metal, and wood (his father was a cabinet-maker); he helped to reintroduce the method of *direct carving in America, but his most characteristic works are in bronze. His work includes numerous portrait busts, remarkable for their psychological insight (his sitters included the poet E. E. Cummings, the art critic Henry *McBride, who championed his work, and the composer Edgard Varèse), and he earned a good deal of his living with decorative animal sculptures, but he is best known for his female nudes--monumental and anatomically simplified figures, with voluptuous forms and a sense of fluid rhythmical movement ( Standing Woman, Whitney Museum, New York, 1912-27). Their smooth modelling links them with the work of * Nadelman, who was also at this time helping to lead American sculpture away from the 19th-century academic tradition, but Lachaise's figures are bulkier than those of Nadelman and have an overt sexuality that has caused them to be compared with the the nudes of * Renoir. (The inspiration for the figures--Lachaise's embodiment of female beauty--was Isabel Dutaud Nagle, a married American woman with whom he fell in love when he was aged about 20; she was the reason for his move to America and he was eventually able to marry her in 1917 after she had obtained a divorce from her first husband. He described her as 'the primary inspiration which awakened my vision and the leading influence that has directed my forces'.) In 1935 Lachaise was given a

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