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Robert Laurent

Robert Laurent Anxiety 1
Robert Laurent Anxiety 1
American, 1946
Height: 27 inches (68.6 cm)

The works of Robert Laurent are largely unacknowledged by today’s art historians. However, from the early to the middle part of the twentieth century, during the peak of his creative career, Laurent’s sculptures were praised as “radical,” “exquisite” and “intriguing,” with ”great joy in the fulness of life felt in all of [his] work.” Laurent was, in fact, a highly significant American modernist who pioneered the “direct carving” technique in the United States. Working in wood, alabaster, marble and bronze, he intuitively and instinctively worked directly on the material without any preliminary designs, sketches or models. Laurent developed an individualistic, yet distinctly modern, style based largely on the folk art traditions of Brittany’s native stonecutters, as well as the work of the American folk artists that he collected.

In this unusual sculpture titled Anxiety, Laurent combined mahogany with a found object: a fragment of a metallic plane propeller.

The bust of a woman is carved from a thin, flattened piece of mahogany; her features are stylized and she holds a hand up to her mouth. The “hair” of the figure is formed by the plane propeller; the combination of metals in copper of the propeller contrast with the texture of the wood. The artist cleverly
adapted the copper sheathing, augmented with silvered highlights,
to serve as the model’s hair.

This sculpture is inscribed “Laurent” on the reverse.

Collection of John Laurent

“Robert Laurent Memorial Exhibition 1972-1973” University of New Hampshire. Henry R. Hope et al., catalogue number 62.