MEMPHIS, Tenn. – This fall, experience extraordinary masterpieces of modern American sculpture in the exhibition “Coming to America: Lachaise, Laurent, Nadelman, and Zorach, 1914-1945” on display through Jan. 7, 2018 at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
Gaston Lachaise, Robert Laurent, Elie Nadelman, and William Zorach are the focus, co-organized by the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas. The exhibition explores how this group of artists—all of whom were European immigrants—became preeminent figures of modernism in the United States.
Through more than 60 sculptures and a select group of drawings, the exhibition reveals their common artistic sources, while at the same time reveling in their stylistic individuality. “Coming to America” is a rare opportunity to explore the works of four major masters who redefined the expressive qualities of the human form in the modern age.
Between 1900 and 1914, and before their arrival in the United States, Lachaise, Laurent, Nadelman and Zorach all studied in Paris, which was the center of the art world. Here, they absorbed crucial ideas about sculpture: smooth harmonies of curve, line and mass; serene compositions; innovative surfaces; and the vibrancy of non-Western art. Spurred by the tensions of pre-World War I Europe—with Nadelman and Zorach both being Jewish, and from areas often subjected to pogroms—the four artists came to America looking for new opportunities. In the United States, known to each other but working independently, they developed a new style of sculpture rooted in novel depictions of the human form. Fascinated with America’s bristling energy, consumerism, urban life and industrialism, they melded their European training with contemporary performance culture, particularly vaudeville and modern dance, as well as American folk art.
Between the two World Wars, Lachaise, Laurent, Nadelman, and Zorach continually experimented with new approaches to making sculpture, and explored innovative techniques and materials.
Depicting their friends and family members, as well as performers and mythological characters, they celebrated the expressive potential of the human figure in artwork that blended simplicity, craftsmanship and sources.
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Founded in 1916 and located at 1934 Poplar Ave. in historic Overton Park, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is home to Tennessee’s oldest and largest major collection of world art. More than 10,000 works make up the Brooks Museum’s permanent collection, including works from ancient Greece, Rome and the Americas; Renaissance masterpieces from Italy; English portraiture; American painting and decorative arts; contemporary art; and a survey of African art. The Brooks Museum enriches the lives of our diverse community through the museum's expanding collection, varied exhibitions, and dynamic programs that reflect the art of world cultures from antiquity to the present. For more information, call 901-544-6200 or visit www.brooksmuseum.org.
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