Los Angeles

Gaston Lachaise

Felix Landau Gallery

This exhibition consists of some fifty works covering a twenty-five year span from 1910 to 1935. Included are a group of bronzes, many of which are quite familiar, and a series of drawings that have never before been exhibited. The bronzes are mostly female and male nudes and Expressionistic, distorted studies of portions of the female anatomy. These distorted pieces, made during the latter part of Lachaise’s career, combine a personal, poetic commentary on the human form with a kind of precise pulling asunder of one portion of the body, doing battle with it, training it, making it swell or jump through hoops and finally creating a kind of contextual gap where each portion achieves its own life and tells its own story without regard for the rest of its companion members.

The drawings do much the same thing, but here the whole person is used. Anatomy, as we know it, is made to do marvelous things and develop grotesqueries which bear no literal resemblance to life, but seem all the more real for their simplicity, directness and semblance of a non-rational truth. It is this that gives Lachaise his power—his ability to present the most outrageous distortions with a simplicity and wit that somehow rings true. His was a highly personal art given formal precedent by a previous generation of European Expressionism. Thus, the allure of these pieces is based almost entirely upon a kind of empathy with his vision.

Don Factor