Robert Laurent


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Sculptor. Among early modern exponents of direct carving, truth to materials, and nonacademic form, he was born in Concarneau, in the Brittany region of France. At twelve, he arrived in the United States as the protégé of painter, editor, and art enthusiast Hamilton Easter Field (1873–1922). Working first as a painter, in 1905 he went to Paris, where became acquainted with modern and non-Western art. Two years later he continued on to Rome. There he learned woodcarving and studied with Maurice Sterne. After his return to New York in 1910, directly carved wood reliefs depicting stylized natural forms placed him among the most progressive sculptors of the day. Within a few years, he began to carve in the round, as in his lithe, curving, nearly abstract wood sculpture The Flame (Whitney Museum, c. 1917). From 1921 he worked also in stone, as he increasingly focused on the female figure. Between the late 1920s and the late 1930s he produced bronze pieces, as well. In characteristic mature work, he carved ample, idealized figures, such as Seated Nude (Pennsylvania Academy, 1940), related to similar subjects by Gaston Lachaise and French sculptor Aristide Maillol. In 1942 he accepted a faculty position at Indiana University in Bloomington, but continued during summers to direct the Ogunquit, Maine, art school he had inherited from Field. Upon his retirement from Indiana in 1960, he settled in the Ogunquit area. He died at his home in nearby Cape Neddick.

Subjects: Art.

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