Gaston Lachaise 1882-1935
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Lachaise_Gaston_Head_of_Woman_1923

Head of a Woman, 1923

Gaston Lachaise was born in 1882 to a master Parisian wood carver. Lachaise’s work was greatly influenced by his father with whom he trained, as well as the sculptor Paul Manship, who hired Lachaise as a studio assistant in New York. He is best known for sculpting erotic and curvaceous nude female figures. Lachaise was financially successful in his lifetime, but lived in poverty because of his excessive expenditures on his wife. Marsden Hartley once wrote that Lachaise saw “the entire universe in the form of a woman.”

When Lachaise was thirteen years old, he enrolled in the École Bernard Palissy in order to study art history, drawing, and carving. After completing his studies there, the French-born artist went on to study at the École de Beaux-Arts. By 1903, he met Isabel Dutaud Nagle, who Lachaise would follow back to Boston in 1906 and eventually marry. In 1912, Lachaise opened his own studio in New York after apprenticing to Paul Manship. Lachaise treated Nagle like a god and dedicated his life’s work towards repeatedly sculpting representations of her. He executed busts of John Marin and Georgia O’Keeffe, but his mature work of the late 1920s was primarily comprised of female torsos. Unfortunately, his career was cut short by leukemia in 1935, but he will be remembered as one of the foremost non-objective sculptors.