Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Mediterranean

Maillol only  became a sculptor when he was 40 and based his works on the infinite variations in female body.

Since classical antiquity, the image of the healthy nude woman has symbolized, among other abstract ideals, beauty, truth, and innocence. Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) , a French Sculptor; Painter; Wood cutter; Lithographer; Etcher and Illustrator , who came to maturity as an artist at the end of the nineteenth century, devoted himself to ever more graceful expressions of this theme so widely treated by artists of that era, from Rodin and Degas to C├ęzanne and Renoir.
In 1905, when he was acclaimed for exhibiting his first over-life-size seated female nude, the symbolic embodiment of the Mediterranean Sea.  He concentrated almost exclusively on the nude female figure in the round, consciously wishing to strip form of all literary associations and architectural context. Although inspired by the Classical tradition of Greek and Roman sculpture, his figures have all the elemental sensuousness and dignity associated with the Mediterranean peasant.   The brooding posture of the stocky woman can be held a parallel to Rodin's 'thinker'.  But the accidentality, immediacy, and strong emotion of Rodin are replaced in Maillol's statue with the revived classical values of balance, repose, and restraint.
The quiet, understated forms of the body, the limbs, and the head of Maillol's reposeful figure reveal to a great degree the geometric shapes of cylinder, sphere and cone sought in the natural world.   Andre Gide, a French author and a nobel prize winner, said, " The 'Mediterranean' is beautiful; it has no meaning; it is a silent work. One would have to go a long way back to find so complete a negligence of any preoccupation foreign to the simple manifestation of beauty."
The power of Maillol's art resided partly in the fact that it had no need to express itself as power.

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