Gaston Lachaise: Retrospective Exhibition, January 30-March 7, 1935, the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Gaston Lachaise: Retrospective Exhibition, January 30-March 7, 1935, the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Gaston Lachaise: Retrospective Exhibition, January 30-March 7, 1935, the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Gaston Lachaise: Retrospective Exhibition, January 30-March 7, 1935, the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Excerpt

The sculptor Gaston Lachaise was born in Paris, March 19, 1882. His father, Jean Lachaise, was a cabinet maker who came up from Auvergne to the capital and installed himself in his own workshop. He married Marie Barrée, a Parisian of Alastian descent. Jean Lachaise executed the woodwork for the private apartments of the engineer Eiffel at the very top of the great tower constructed for the Exposition of 1889. As a small boy Lachaise climbed with his father out upon the exterior framework of the tower, conceiving a terror of heights.

At the age of thirteen, encouraged by his father who had an artisan's respect for an artist, Lachaise entered the Ecole Bernard Palissy. Named after the great Renaissance ceramist, this school was one of the most thorough and imaginative training grounds for the artist-craftsman in the whole of Europe. A remarkable standard of practical work in carving stone, wood and ivory, in drawing, painting, anatomy and the history of art was maintained by an excellent academic faculty. Lachaise studied there for three years. He was instructed by the director Aube, a distinguished academician, and particularly by Moncel, the master in sculpture. To complete his course Lachaise should have a stayed a fourth year, but he was eager not to waste his time, as he thought, so he applied for admission to the Académie Nationale des Beaux-Arts, to which he was admitted in 1898 at the age of sixteen.

Moncel had been a pupil of Gabriel Jules Thomas, the most conservative of the classicists and head of one of the three sculpture ateliers at the Beaux-Arts. Lachaise therefore entered the studio of Thomas rather than of either of the two other eminent official sculptors, Falguière or Barrias. At the same time Charles Despiau and Paul Landowski were studying at the Beaux-Arts; of the three hundred odd students of the time only Despiau, Landowski and Lachaise have, in any real sense, become eminent.

Lachaise learned a great deal more at the Ecole Bernard Palissy than at the Beaux-Arts, but his new position as a student of the state gave him for a time a sense of security. He had a small studio on the Avenue du Maine near the Gare Montparnasse. He was a good student but worked without any particular im-

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