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Seated Woman

Not on view

Seated Woman

Artist: Manolo (Manuel Martinez Hugué) (Spanish, 1872 - 1945)

Date: 1912
Medium: Bronze bas-relief
Dimensions:
Overall: 13 x 13 3/4 x 2 1/8in. (33 x 34.9 x 5.4cm)
Markings: Lower left (stamped): '1/10' Foundry stamp: 'CIRE / C. VALSUANI / PERDUE'
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 63.92
Label Text
Seated Woman shows a figure awkwardly posed on the ground, with her left arm supporting her weight, while her right arm crosses her raised right leg. Dating from 1912, it is the earliest of many variants Manolo made on this theme, which was inspired by the work of French Catalan sculptor Aristide Maillol. Maillol lived in the fishing village of Banyuls, near Céret, and Manolo knew him well. Manolo also fell under the spell of Picasso for a period when he joined Manolo in Céret in the summers of 1911 and 1912. Manolo said that he did not understand Cubism, but he experimented with the style in a handful of works. In Seated Woman, the way in which the woman's torso faces us, while her left leg twists under her in a pose befitting a circus contortionist, shows Manolo's interest in (but not submission to) the multiple viewpoints of Cubism.

Patrick Elliot
2005

Text Entries

Manolo was born in Barcelona and spent his infant years in Cuba where his father was stationed in the army.  His parents separated when he was young and he returned to Barcelona with his mother.  He took his mother’s name, Hughé, but was always known simply as ‘Manolo.’  His early years were ones of extreme poverty.  He followed evening classes in drawing but had no formal training in sculpture.  In the 1890s he became involved with the group of artists that gathered in the Els Quatre Gats café in Barcelona, and there met Picasso and the sculptor Pablo Gargallo.  He moved to Paris in 1901, thereby avoiding his military call-up, and established a close friendship with Picasso.  Little is known of his years in Paris, but he seems to have worked principally as a jeweller.[1]  He was clearly in the thick of the tight-knit community of avant-garde artists: he spent the summer of 1905 with Georges Braque in Honfleur and helped Picasso with his earliest sculptures (Picasso’s celebrated cubist sculpture Head of a Woman (Fernande) 1909 was made in Manolo’s Montmartre studio).  He began selling work to Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who was already the dealer of Braque and Picasso, around 1909 and exhibited at his Paris gallery for many years thereafter.  Kahnweiler’s financial support eased Manolo’s constant financial worries, allowing him to move to the Pyrenean village of Céret in 1910.  Since he had evaded national service, he had to stay in France, but Céret was appealing because it lay close to the Spanish border and the people spoke Catalan.  Following Manolo’s move to the little town, Céret soon become a popular retreat for the Parisian avant-garde, attracting Picasso, Braque, Gris, Herbin and others.

 

Seated Woman shows a woman seated somewhat awkwardly on the ground, with her left arm supporting her weight, while her right arm crosses her raised right leg.  Dating from 1912, it is the earliest of many variants Manolo made on this theme.  There are two variants carved in stone, both of which date from 1913: a stone bas relief in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (47 x 44 cm), which is very similar to the present bronze; and a fully three-dimensional stone carving (43 x 42 x 26 cm) which is in the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.  In this latter work, the woman’s right hand rests on her knee and she holds her head up.  There are at least three preliminary drawings for the Munson-Williams-Proctor figure:  two are in pen and ink and one is in pencil.[2] Another cast of the bronze is in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  These bronzes were cast from the original plaster in the late 1950s, by the Galerie Louise Leiris (formerly the Galerie Kahnweiler). The cast belonging to the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute was purchased by the museum from in 1963.

 

Manolo’s Seated Woman derives from Aristide Maillol’s sculpture Woman (later retitled The Mediteranean), which was first exhibited in Paris in 1905.  It attracted much attention for its lack of allegorical, literary or classical references, and for simply showing a woman seated on the ground, with her left knee raised and gazing dreamily in the direction of her feet.  Maillol lived in the fishing village of Banyuls, near Céret, and Manolo knew him well.  Maillol, a French Catalan who was deeply attached to the area, exercised a major influence over Manolo and Catalan sculptors such as Enric Casanovas and Josep Clarà.  While Maillol was the main influence on Manolo’s work, for a brief period around 1912-13 he also fell under the spell of Picasso, who joined him in Céret in the summers of 1911 and 1912.  Manolo said that he did not understand cubism, but he experimented with the style in a handful of works.  In the present bronze, the way in which the woman’s torso faces us, while her left leg twists under her in a pose befitting a circus contortionist, shows Manolo’s interest in (but not submission to) the multiple viewpoints of cubism.  Furthermore her body is divided into geometric units of round breasts, and oval thigh and stomach, contained within the figure’s square shape:  this interest in geometry is more clearly evident in the stone version in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  Manolo made a number of variants of the same figure in the 1920s and 1930s, but none equals the power of the three versions he made between 1912 and 1913.

 

Patrick Elliot




[1] See the exhibition catalogueue: Escultores y orfebres; Francisco Durmio, Pablo Gargallo, Julio González, Manolo Hughé ([Valencia:  Centre Cultural Bancaixa,1993).

[2] Monserrat Blanch, Manolo (Barcelona:  Ediciones Polígrafa, S.A. [1972]), cat. nos. 36-38.

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