Gaston Lachaise (1882-1935) was an American sculptor of French birth. He is considered as a pioneer of American modernism.
Lachaise was born on March 19, 1882 as the son of a carpente. At the age of twelve he began to be interested in art and sculpture in particular.
At the age of 16, he attended the Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris, where he studied sculpture.
After he made a bust of his sister Ally he was sent to the Salon des Artistes Francais, the most prestigious showcase of visual arts.
In the following years he got to know the Franco-Canadian Isabel Dutaud Nagle. He broke off his studies and went to the USA with her.
In order to finance the voyage, he worked as a laborer for the French glass artist René Lalique (1860-1945). In the U.S., he worked as an assistant for various artists. Among others, he worked for three years for the sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson (1863-1909).
In his leisure time he made statues of clay. He worked mostly in bronze.
In 1913 he reached public attention by a sculpture of a nude woman, wearing a coat. This was the beginning of his American career and the beginning of many appointments even he became more famous for his deep love to Isabel and his sculptures created by her inspiration.
At Lachaise’ time, his sculptures, like his most famous one called Standing Woman obtained being provoking; he created sculptures of woman with skinny legs and huge breasts. This unusually image of the female body made the prude American society fluttering; the sculptures of Lachaise didn’t fit with the American concept of morality.
His later artwork was an image of the glorification of the female body. This work was characterized by creating voluptuous unproportional body parts and was less the image of his muse Isabel but an image of his love to this woman.
Lachaise died on October 18, 1935 in New York, a short time after the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art just opened the retrospective exhibition of Lachaise. He was the first living artist ever the museum dedicated a retrospective while he was still alive. His most famous figure “Standing Woman” is nowadays still exhibited there. There are lots of exhibitions.