Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts: The Collection
Elie Nadelman (1882-1946)


Elie Nadelman (1882-1946)
11¼ in. (28.6 cm.) high on a marble base 1½ in. (3.8 cm.) high
Executed circa 1927.
The artist.
Estate of the above.
[With]Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 2000.
L. Kirstein, Elie Nadelman, New York, 1973, p. 306, no. 189.
Hackett Freedman Gallery, Elie Nadelman, exhibition catalogue, San Francisco, California, 2000, p. 23, illustrated.
San Francisco, California, Hackett Freedman Gallery, Elie Nadelman, May 4-May 27, 2000.

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Lot Essay

In the early years of the twentieth century, Elie Nadelman developed a highly sophisticated style that reflected his unique notions about form and volume. His general approach was to create an uncomplicated connection of curves and forms with little ornamentation. Nadelman created Duck with tremendous economy of detail, simplifying the animal form in order to express its elegant geometries while exuding a subtle charm and refinement. Nadelman commented: "Here is how I realize it. I employ no other line than the curve, which possesses freshness and force. I compose these curves so as to bring them in accord or in opposition to one another. In that way I obtain the life of form, i.e. harmony. In that way I intend that the life of the work should come from within itself. The subject of any work of art is for me nothing but a pretext for creating significant form, relations of forms which create a new life that has nothing to do with life in nature, a life from which art is born, and from which spring style and unity." (as quoted in L. Kirstein, Elie Nadelman, New York, 1973, p. 265)

After substantial acclaim in Europe and assisted by the great modern art patron Helena Rubenstein, Nadelman obtained passage to the United States at the outbreak of the first World War and set up a studio in New York. Nadelman's earliest exhibitions in New York proved to be major successes; first in 1915 at Alfred Stieglitz's highly-regarded gallery, "291," followed by a 1917 exhibition at Scott and Fowles Galleries. Both shows brought him many new commissions, his sculptures were purchased by museums and prominent American collectors and the art critics promoted his new style. Nadelman's was a personal achievement never focusing on one source, material or style. He combined his aristocratic vision, intellectual and often witty, with a contemporary idiom and masterly technique to produce original and important sculpture.

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