Andrew Dasburg

Gallery A
American Sculpture and Decorative Art

Entering Gallery A, visitors encountered American Sculpture and Decorative Art. Most likely Robert Chanler's decorative screens, which contrasted with the overwhelming amount of sculpture in the gallery, would initially capture their attention. Chanler's panels featured wildlife scenes influenced by the subtle figuration of Japanese folding screens, but he also employed minimal linear perspective. As with many of the sculptures in Gallery A, two of Chanler's works, Indian and Hopi Snake Dance, focused on Native American subjects. Memorials and studies of Native Americans were also represented in the entranceway by Charles Rumsey's Indian and Buffalos, Myra Musselmann Carr's Indian Grinding Corn, Edith Yandell's Indian and Fisher, and Nessa Cohen's Sunrise. Cohen and Mahonri Young were both commissioned in 1912 by the American Museum of Natural History to ethnologize Native American tribes, an attempt to preserve the "vanishing American."

Andrew Dasburg's Lucifer, shown above, provides an example of direct carving in American sculpture prior to the Armory Show. The sculpture came from a life-size plaster head by Arthur Lee that Dasburg extensively reworked by carving directly into the plaster (Coke 21). While Dasburg's work escaped commentary, Ethel Myers' figurative studies of New Yorkers illustrate a movement toward non-representational form that many critics accepted as artistic license. Myers' work, which has been compared to the paintings of the Ashcan artists, also bears formal affinities to the work of Gaston Lachaise. Lachaise, a French-American artist whose works can be seen in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, is considered a pioneer of modern American sculpture.


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