Marcel GIMOND (1894 - 1961)
Reclining Woman, 1929
H. 43 ; L. 66,5 ; P. 25 cm
France, Private Collection
Paris, Jacques London collection.
- Charles Forot, project for an unfinished book on Marcel Gimond and his work, Archives of Charles Forot and Pigeonnier, listed in the sub-series 24J/ Dominique Dupraz, Charles Forot, Privas Fund, Departmental Archives of the Ardèche, 1998.
- Hélène Labbé-Bazantay, Marcel-Antoine Gimond (1894-1961), DEA in Art History Université Pierre Mendès-France, Grenoble, September 2003, p. 34, reproductions.
- Paul Fierens, "Marcel Gimond", Sculpteurs nouveaux n°10, Gallimard, 1930, p. 45, reproductions
- Jacques Guenne, "Portrait d’artistes, Gimond", L’Art Vivant, n°128, April 15, 1930, pp.320-328, p.320 repr.
- Roger Brielle, "Marcel Gimond", L’art et les artistes, n°123, January 1932, pp. 123-128, p.125 repr.
- Robert Rey, "Marcel Gimond", Les Annales Politiques et Littéraires, 1934, reproductions
- A plaster in the Galerie Dominique, Paris
This model for this feminine figure may have been Simone, one of the sculptor’s favorites, and the model for two busts, one from 1927 and the other from 1937. In her Memoires, Madame Gimond writes that Simone was the most engaging of the sculptor’s models; in her words, she was “very intelligent and distinguished, and had a taste for learning and study. Marcel Gimond, noting her keen interest in reading, lent her many books, from poetry to the great classics.” Madame Gimond goes on to say, “Marcel liked his models to be distinctly feminine. A young woman needed sloping shoulders, large hips, and long legs. He loved working with Simone. He said that she could return to a pose without even thinking about it; she had an intuition for posing.” ***
In the first twenty years of his career—from 1923 to 1939—Gimond created many feminine figures, and this sculpture is one of a series of reclining women. And of his reclining women, one of his favorite poses was this one, with the figure lying back and her bust raised, supported by a base. This sculpture in particular, because of the crossed arms, tends to fuse the form of a reclining woman with the strong, compact form of a bust. This fusion is accentuated by the cubic base, a marvel of Gimond’s technical facility: it harmonizes, reconciles, and unites opposing forms. It accentuates her gracefully angled head, with its carefully modeled curves. Is this highlighted by the angles of the parallelepiped? Yes, because its straight lines emphasize the other’s curves. And in relation to Gimond’s whole œuvre, which became fully developed in his busts and heads, this one is striking for its willfully architectural gesture. But it’s the sculpture as a whole that captures the eye; no single part overbalances the solid, contained space of the figure as a whole—it’s all one. And there is nothing contingent either, except perhaps the fold of cloth, barely there, gathered at the heart of the supple form. Here Marcel Gimond’s interest in seeking out the character of the composition as a whole comes to the fore. The beauty of this particular composition is achieved by the arrangement of its masses, which are balanced and rhythmic within a roundness that is not without an echo of Maillol’s figures. But in this case, the head gives the body a fluid life, much more so than in the impersonal figures of the master of Marly. And the passage from one flat plane to another is completely harmonious and carefully ordered; it tends to pull the forms together, gathering light into them. This composition is rare among the various reclining figures by this sculptor in that it gives us a full sense of the synthetic spirit with which Gimond wanted to infuse his entire body of work—the spirit that constitutes his true modernity.
This extremely beautiful piece, in contrast to anecdotal, or we could say decorative, sculpture, affirms how much all of Gimond’s work evokes a fluid vivacity in which the human figure offers a pretext for the expression of a life of forms. Gimond and Drawing It’s interesting to compare the sculpture Reclining Woman with Arms Crossed from 1929 with one of his pencil drawings. There are certainly differences, particularly in the positioning of the legs. Standing before his model, Gimond began her transition into clay. He then drew a rough sketch, a sketch that allowed him to explore the possibilities of an architectural sculpture. If this drawing is actually a stage in the development of the sculpture Reclining Woman with Arms Crossed, it shows us that Gimond’s vision really only came to fruition in the third dimension. In fact, the figure in this drawing, with its determinate lines, doesn’t have the refined force of the sculpture. Its nature as composition, that force that it derives from the concentration of its forms, would it have revealed its full presence if the space around it had been allowed to compromise the space of the sculpture itself ?