Charles Despiau

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Despiau, Charles


Born Nov. 4, 1874, in Mont-de-Marsan, Landes; died Oct. 28, 1946, in Paris. French sculptor.

Despiau studied in Paris from 1891 in the School of Decorative Arts and in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. From 1907 to 1914 he worked as Rodin’s assistant. Despiau is one of the outstanding masters of portrait sculpture in the 20th century. His works are noted for their keen sense of modernity, humanism and poetic imagery, and sensitive understanding of the models’ spiritual makup and individuality. While consistently striving for generalization, classical purity, wholeness of plastic form, and clear-cut structural relevance, Despiau never lost his careful approach to the model, creating images that are rich in psychological nuances and in which the fine modeling produces a play of light and shade (Girl From the Landes, marble, 1907, and Portrait of Agnes Meyer, bronze, 1929—both in the National Museum of Modern Art, Paris; portrait of L. Lievre, bronze, 1918, Museum of Fine Art, Algiers). Despiau created the war memorial in Mont-de-Marsan (1920-22) and a number of nudes (Assia, bronze, 1937, National Museum of Modern Art, Paris).


Roden i ego vremia: Katalog. Moscow [no date]. (Translated from French.)
George, W. Despiau vivant: L’homme et l’oeuvre. Paris, 1947.
Ch. Despiau. Published by W. George. Cologne, 1954.
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The lots to be sold at the auction at Bukowskis include "Le Penseur" and "L'enfant prodigue" by Auguste Rodin, "Amphore de Muse" by Jean Arp, "Pair of sitting figures" by Lynn Chadwick, "Apollon" by Charles Despiau, a Ganesh figure, (Hoysala period, India, 11th century), "La Banderole" by Henri Laurens, "Silvatica" by Eric Grate, "La jeune fille agenouillee" by Aristide Maillol, "Emy" by Giacomo Manzu, "Radar No 2" by Arnaldo Pomodoro, "Guscio" by Gio Pomodoro, and "Hibou" by Francois Pompon.
Would anybody think of organizing an exhibition of French art of the 1930s and '40s by displaying dozens of works by Dufy, Vlaminck, Kisling, Fougeron, Maillol, and Despiau in order to give an accurate historical cross section of the artistic documents of that time and mixing in an occasional work by Picasso, Matisse, or Giacometti?
Sculpting as a painter," for a man of Matisse's generation, could have meant only two things: First, that the sculpture would be frontal, admitting--or, at the very least, privileging--only one point of view, as in the case of the works shown by Alexander Archipenko, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Charles Despiau, Alberto Giacometti, Jacques Lipchitz, Aristide Maillol, and even, surprisingly for me, Auguste Rodin; second, it meant that the sculptor would avoid clear and linear contours in favor of highly agitated surfaces in an attempt to imitate pictorial effects.