June Kelly Gallery

Elie Nadelman

Elie Nadelman - "Woman on Settee," ca. 1918-1920, Ink on paper, 6 x 9.50 inches

"Woman on Settee," ca. 1918-1920
Ink on paper
6 x 9.50 inches

1882 Elie Nadelman was born in Warsaw, Poland, when Poland was under Russian rule.  Attends art and drawing schools in Warsaw.
1903 Goes to Munich for six months to study art.
1904 Arrives in Paris, where he remains for 10 years.  He becomes a part of the avant-garde circle of artists and intellectuals that included Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Guillaume Apollinaire and Gertrude Stein.  Exhibits in Salons d’Automne and Salons des Indépendants.
1907-08 Leo Stein becomes an avid collector.  Stein takes Pablo Picasso to Nadelman’s studio in 1908.
1909 One-man exhibition at Galerie Druet in Paris.  Nadelman exhibits sculptures and approximately 100 drawings of heads and figures, displaying both a knowledge of classical sculpture and an experimentation with the break-up of forms.
1911 One-man exhibition at Paterson’s Gallery, London – mainly marble heads.  Helena Rubinstein becomes a major patron, buying most of the work in the exhibition.
1913 Nadelman sends drawings and sculpture to the Armory Show in New York.  Second one-man exhibition at Galerie Druet.
1914 Publishes a portfolio of engraved facsimiles of drawings, “Vers l’Unité plastique,” republished in 1921 in the United States as “Vers la Beauté plastique.”  Guillaume Apollinaire, André Salmon, Gertrude Stein, and Adolf Basler, among others, write about Nadelman.
At the outbreak of World War I, Nadelman is unable to return to Poland or Russia to join the army.  Goes to London, commissioned by Helena Rubinstein to create decorative reliefs for her house.  Nadelman travels to New York in October.
1915 First one-man exhibition in New York at Alfred Stieglitz’s Photo-Secession Gallery (291). Exhibits plaster version of Man in the Open Air; the bronze is now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.  Exhibits plaster horse, bought by Helena Rubinstein, now at the National Gallery of Australia.
1917 Large solo exhibition at Scott & Fowles Gallery in New York, mainly marble and bronze neo-classical heads and figures informed by abstraction.
1918 Nadelman is friendly with the Stettheimer sisters and their circle.
1919 Exhibits painted-plaster sculptures of people in modern dress at Knoedler & Co., including Woman at the Piano, Tango, Cellist, Orchestra Conductor.  Marries Viola Spiess Flannery.
1920 Shows the plaster sculptures at Bernheim-Jeune in Paris.  He and Viola begin collecting folk art, for which they will eventually create a museum.
1922 Son Jan is born.
1920-30 Nadelmans amass a large collection of folk art from both the United States and Europe.
1925 Exhibits painted-wood and painted-bronze sculptures based on the 1918 plasters at Scott & Fowles, along with his more traditional bronzes and marbles.
1927 One-man exhibition at Knoedler & Co., of his newest sculpture: galvano-plastique (electroplated plaster) standing and seated circus performers and busts.  Exhibit travels to Bernheim-Jeune in Paris.
1929 Commissioned to create sculptural figure group for the façade of the Fuller Building at 57th Street and Madison Avenue (still extant).  Nadelmans sustain major real-estate and stock losses in the Stock Market Crash.
1929-35 Nadelman begins working in terra-cotta and papier-maché, less costly materials than marble and bronze.
1937 New-York Historical Society buys the bulk of the folk-art collection, and the Nadelmans’ museum is dismantled.
1935-46 Creates hundreds of small plaster figures whose influences range from Tanagra figurines to modern-day bathing beauties.
1942 As a volunteer he instructs veterans in sculpture modeling at the Bronx Veterans’ Hospital, where he works for two years.  During the war, Nadelman is sporadically in touch with and tries to help family members in Poland.  Many perish in the Holocaust.  Nadelman has a serious heart condition.
1946 Nadelman dies on December 28, Riverdale, NY
Nadelman’s work is in the collections of most major museums in the United States, including the National Gallery of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Amon Carter Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Baltimore Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Wadsworth Atheneum, and many others.  New York’s Lincoln Center is home to 24-foot marble enlargements of Nadelman’s five-foot papier-maché sculptures, Two Circus Women and Two Circus Women (Standing and Seated), from around 1930.  Major retrospectives were organized by the Museum of Modern Art in 1948, the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1975 and 2003, the American Federation of Arts in 2001, and the National Museum of Warsaw in 2004.

An exhibition of the Nadelman folk-art collection is planned for 2015 at the New-York Historical Society.


Click on thumbnail for larger image.

Head of a Woman with Curls, ca.1916

Profile Head of Man in Top Hat, ca. 1918 - 1920
Head of a Woman, ca. 1917-1920

Ideal Female Head, ca. 1914 - 1915

Standing Nude, ca. 1920
Male Head (Profile), ca. 1915 - 16

Elie Nadelman Bio

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