Henri Laurens


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(b Paris, 18 Feb. 1885; d Paris, 5 May 1954).

French sculptor, printmaker, designer, and illustrator. He trained as an ornamental stonemason. His early work was influenced by Rodin, but in 1911 he became a friend of Braque (he later met Gris, Léger, and Picasso) and he was one of the first artists to adapt the Cubist style to sculpture. He made collages, reliefs, and constructions of wood and metal, mainly still lifes using the familiar Cubist repertory of bottles, glasses, and fruit. Much of his work was coloured, but he retained a genuine sculptor's feeling for mass, and his distrust of intellectual speculation preserved his independence from Cubist theorizing. In the mid-1920s he moved away from his geometrical style to one that featured curved lines and voluptuous forms, notably in female nudes. Many of his fellow artists regarded him as one of the great sculptors of his time, but financial success and official recognition were slow in coming. When he failed to win the first prize for sculpture at the 1948 Venice Biennale, Matisse was so disgusted that he offered to share his own painting prize with him. In 1953, however, Laurens won the Grand Prix at the São Paulo Bienal. Apart from sculpture, his work included stage design for Diaghilev and numerous book illustrations.

Subjects: Art.

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