Skip to content

Unconventional Figures

Extended Exhibition

September 8 – December 12, 2020

Joaquín Torres-García Untitled, c. 1901

Joaquín Torres-García
Untitled, c. 1901
Oil on canvas
13 x 17.5 in.
 

Dorothy Dehner Man & Woman, 1950

Dorothy Dehner
Man & Woman, 1950
Gouache and ink on paper
23 x 18 in.
 

Baltasar Lobo Torse incliné en avant sur socle, 1976–81, cast 1982

Baltasar Lobo
Torse incliné en avant sur socle, 1976–81, cast 1982
Bronze
13.38 x 8.63 x 7.25 in.
 

Alighiero Boetti Senza titolo (Extra-Strong), 1991

Alighiero Boetti
Senza titolo (Extra-Strong), 1991
Collage and mixed media on paper laid down on canvas
11.6 x 8.25 in.

 

Jean Hélion Femme accoudée, 1946

Jean Hélion
Femme accoudée, 1946
Ink, pencil, and gouache on paper
10.63 x 14.57 in.
 

Maurice Denis Allégorie de l'Ile-de-France (Sketch 1), c. 1926

Maurice Denis
Allégorie de l'Ile-de-France (Sketch 1), c. 1926
Oil on canvas
12.4 x 16.14 in.
 

Reuben Nakian Nymph and Cupid, 1982–85

Reuben Nakian
Nymph and Cupid, 1982–85
Black litho crayon with blue and green wash on paper
29.75 x 33.1 in.
 

Reuben Nakian Nymph and Dolphins, 1982–85

Reuben Nakian
Nymph and Dolphins, 1982–85
Black litho crayon and color wash on paper
29.75 x 40.75 in.
 

Reuben Nakian Voyage to Crete, c. 1983

Reuben Nakian
Voyage to Crete, c. 1983
Black litho crayon with blue and green wash on paper
29.75 x 36.5 in.
 

Press Release

Rosenberg & Co. is pleased to present Unconventional Figures, an exhibition highlighting the diverse and nuanced approaches that twentieth-century artists took in depicting the human form.

 

Representing the figure has been a foundational practice for Western artists throughout history. The traditional hierarchy of artistic genres, established in sixteenth century Italy and promoted by French academies through the nineteenth century, prioritized art forms that depicted the figure in imaginative and skilled ways. For many, access to figure drawing classes or models was a pathway to professionalism and success. At the end of the nineteenth century, as artists worked to challenge and dissolve those traditional hierarchies, the figure took on new and exciting forms; in print, on canvas, and in sculpture, the body was modernized, abstracted, and fragmented.

 

From simplified shapes to fully nonrepresentational forms, Unconventional Figures explores the many ways in which artists depicted the figure amidst the newfound dynamism of the twentieth century. Works by Aristide Maillol and Joaquín Torres-Garcia pay homage to ancient, idealized bodies and also emphasize a sense of the monumental that was particular to contemporary sculpture. Other works, such as Personnage debout by Georges Valmier or Femme bizarre by Julio González, are fully abstract and transform familiar bodily elements into fragmented planes.

 

Artists working across continents, such as Louis Ribak and Béla Kádár, envisioned the female nude—one of the most recognizable and time-honored subjects—in their works, but transplanted her into new, decorative settings that disguised the distinction between subject and background. Others, like Peter Kinley—working 30 years later—utilized planes of color to abstract the figure within the composition. The photographs of Fred Stein and the sculptures and drawings of Giacomo Manzù are both case studies in how an artist transforms notions of the body over a lifetime of work dedicated to it. From the beginning to the end of the century, artists removed the body from the constraints of classical depiction, and the subject became an ample site for artists to experiment with style, medium, movement, and scale.