France 1882 – United States of America 1935
1927 Title Notes: LF #63 [Lachaise Foundation number]
Creation Notes: cast 1979-80 by Modern Art Foundry, New York
Materials & Technique: sculptures, bronze Impression: 5/7
Edition: no.5 in an edition of 7, with one unnumbered cast
Publisher: Modern Art Foundry
Place Published: Long Island City
In a number of his sculptures executed during the 1920s Lachaise explored the possibility of freeing his figures from an earth-bound attachment to the pedestal and 'floating them in space. These small works of acrobats, diving figures and reliefs were instrumental in the development of Floating figure. Gilbert Seldes, writing in the New Yorker in 1931, singled out one of these works in particular as the source of Floating figure, claiming it arose from the 'figure of a woman on a couch'.1 Apparently this work was broken while on exhibition and rather than simply repair it Lachaise took the opportunity to develop the sculpture, amplifying the proportions of the figure and, in doing so, separating the figure from the couch upon which she had originally reclined. The result was the small floating figure of 1924.2 This sculpture, measuring 32.4 x 44.5 x 15.2 cm (12¾ x 17½ x 6"), exists in two versions. In the first the feet of the figure have been removed at the ankles and the right arm is cut off at the elbow. In the second version the figure is edited further, the left arm being cut off at the shoulder.3 In both variants the form and rhythms of the later Floating figure 1927 are fully established.
During the next few years Lachaise developed and enlarged the figure, completing it in 1927. Floating figure was first exhibited in plaster at the Brummer Gallery, New York, in 1928, and was cast in bronze at the end of 1934 for Lachaise's retrospective held in January 1935 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; it was delivered directly from the foundry to the museum's premises. This first, unnumbered cast, was donated anonymously to the Museum of Modern Art in 1937.
Further casts in bronze have been issued under the supervision of the artist's widow, Isabel Lachaise and, more recently, the Lachaise Foundation, Boston. The entire edition has been limited to eight casts, taking into account the unnumbered cast in the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
All casts in bronze issued to date have been cast at the Modern Art Foundry, Long Island City, New York, and are located at: the Museum of Modern Art, New York (unnumbered); the Society Hill Project, Philadelphia (1/5) (erroneously marked: should be 1/7); Ray Stark Collection, Beverly Hills, California (2/7); Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska (3/7); the Lt John B. Putnam Jr Collection, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (4/7); and the Australian National Gallery, Canberra (5/7).
Michael Lloyd & Michael Desmond European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery 1992 p.160.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra