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PRINT April 1992

GASTON LACHAISE'S OBSESSION

SO GASTON LACHAISE HAD ONE GOD. And it was a woman, his wife. He put this particular woman on a pedestal, both figuratively and literally. What did he need from her? What did she give him? This remains the mysterious mechanism of a relationship that worked.

Some artists, being masochists, must find a valid cause. They get a perverse pleasure out of suffering for the cause. They get their self-esteem from pain, in the overcoming of it. They are willing to pay in time, in labor, and in expertise for being listened to, considered, and noticed.

Some artists function only in a “feed me” setup, meaning “You feed me compliments. You feed me encouragement. You feed me self-esteem.” That’s all they ask. You feed them faith in themselves. The question in Lachaise’s art and life is: “Who fed whom?” When the sculptor met Isabel Dutaud Nagle (in Paris, sometime between 1902 and 1904), he met the muse of

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