Saturday, June 11, 2016

Nadelman's Carved Cherry Wood Figures

Elie Nadelman (1882 - 1946,)
Riverdale, the Bronx, New York City

Nadelman was a Polish Jew who grew up and studied in Warsaw and moved to Paris when he was twenty two.  His early work is heavily influenced by classical and archaic Greek Sculpture, which he first studied intensely in Munich.  After moving to New York in 1914, he became fascinated with American Folk Sculpture.  With the help of his wealthy wife, with whom he married in 1920, he amassed a large collection and opened the Museum of Folk and Peasant Arts in 1925.  The majority of his best known work was produced in the second and third decades of the twentieth century, after which he fell out of fashion.  Following the Stock Market Crash his wife wasn’t nearly as rich as she once was and their collection was put into storage and eventually donated to the New York Historical Society.  Most of Nadelman’s late work was produced in papier-mâché and ceramic and all of it went unexhibited until after his death.  I consider him the finest American sculptor of his time.  The sculptures pictured above and below were carved from cherry wood, a very hard, resilient, material with a warm red tonality.  The faces and hands were often painted with a thin glaze of white and occasionally a few other areas were touched with black or gray.

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