Description & Technical information

In 1909, art student Otto Gutfreund discovers the work of Antoine Bourdelle at an exhibition in Prague.
Under this stimulus, he travels to Paris and for a year follows lessons with the famous sculptor. Gutfreund’s new, expressionist visual language shows a cubist influence from 1912 on, and the principles of analytic cubism quickly gain the upper hand. The aim is no longer for a harmony of continuous ‘general’ forms but rather a subjective intervention that dissolves the motif through sharp contrasts. Now it is about creating an independent, sculptural space out of discontinuous movements. The sculpture suggestively conducts the viewer’s gaze, the gaze that can again reassemble the broken up, rearranged masses. Gutfreund’s cubist drawings are autonomous works as well as being project-designs for sculptures, as with Morning Toilette (1911) and Cubist Bust (1914). In contrast to the ‘heaviness’ of the final sculptures – that indeed have the advantage of revealing all facets to the enveloping gaze – the drawings are remarkably light. In a few planes and lines the figures are decomposed and displayed to the viewer as recomposable. The expressive fragments of some drawings are no longer present in the completed sculpture. Gutfreund was very much aware of the complex nature of the creative process. In 1913, for example, he notes that the new sculpture has a ‘tendency to contain an abundance in a single point, to enrich a single view from elements of other views, to condense an entire abundance into each view. This leads to new formal possibilities, new conditions and new questions. The solution to these questions is the task of a strong individuality; they will not be solved theoretically, but intuitively, in agreement with other sensibilities. The answer will emerge from the given preconditions of the age and its views.’

Date:  1914
Period:  20th century
Origin:  Czech Republic
Medium: Pencil on paper
Signature: With the atelier stamp numbered 20 on the reverse

Dimensions: 27.7 x 22.7 cm (10⁷/₈ x 8⁷/₈ inches)
Provenance: Estate of the artist
Acquired by Eric Estorick (Grosvenor Gallery, London) in the 1960s

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints