Henri Laurens and the Parisien avant-garde
This dissertation examines the development of Henri Laurens' artistic work from 1915 to his death in 1954. It is divided into four sections: from 1915 to 1922, 1924 to 1929, 1930 to 1939 and 1939 to 1954. There are several threads that run through the dissertation. Where relevant, the influence of poetry on his work is discussed. His work is also analyzed in relation to that of the Parisian avant-garde. The first section discusses his early Cubist work. Initially it reflected the cosmopolitan influences in Paris. With the continuation of the war, his work showed the influence both of Leonce Rosenberg's 'school' of Cubism and the literary subject of contemporary Paris. The second section considers Laurens' work in relation to the expanding art market. Laurens gained a number of public commissions as well as many ones for private clients. Being site specific, all the works were different. The different needs of architectural sculpture as opposed to studio sculpture are discussed, as is his use of materials. Although the situation was not easy for avant-garde sculptors, Laurens became well respected through exposure in magazines and exhibitions. The third section considers Laurens in relation to the depression and the changing political scene. Like many of the avant-garde, he had left wing tendencies, which found form in various projects, including producing a sculpture for the Ecole Karl Marx at Villejuif. Patronage virtually ceased. However, Laurens was frequently included in articles in avant-garde journals and exhibited widely. The fourth section begins with the war. Laurens continued to live and work in Paris but was not included in official exhibitions. After the war, the press and State, which had largely disregarded members of the tcole de Paris, reversed this trend. As well as revisiting old sculptural themes, Laurens illustrated a number of books.