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Elie Nadelman

American, born Poland, 1882 - 1946

Estate of Elie Nadelman

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Polish-born Elie Nadelman studied at the Warsaw Art Academy, then moved to Munich in 1904. He settled in Paris in 1906, and until 1914 had several successful exhibitions there, garnering important patronage and critical acclaim for himself from Leo and Gertrude Stein, Apollinaire, and others. Among his friends and admirers were modernist leaders Picasso, Brancusi and Mondrian. Patterson's Gallery in London held an exhibition of Nadelman sculpture in 1911, from which the cosmetics magnate and modern art patron Helena Rubinstein purchased every single object. Rubinstein became Nadelman's biggest patron, commissioning figures and reliefs for her London home. His international reputation was firmly established after a second solo exhibition in Paris followed by inclusion in the 1913 Armory Show in New York. Nadelman escaped to the United States at the onset of WWI with the help of Helena Rubinstein. In addition to his exposure in the Armory Show, he was known in America from the publication of his statements and drawings in Alfred Stieglitz's periodical, Camera Work, and from the support of his work by the esteemed art historian Bernard Berenson. His first one-man show in New York, organized by Scott & Fowles in 1917, was a grand success in every way, attracting critical acclaim as well as commissions and purchases by museums and important American collectors. Nadelman became associated with the established American sculptors Barnard, McCarten, MacMonnies, Manship, Mahonri Young and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and such painters as George Bellows, Eugene Speicher and Gari Melchers. In 1920, Nadelman married a wealthy widow named Viola Flannery, and thereafter began collecting art. The 1929 stock market crash, however, forced the Nadelmans to sell their collection and two homes. The sculptor stopped exhibiting after 1930, and refused to sell his work or to compete for commissions, though he continued working in a new medium he dubbed "galvano-plastique." In the last years of his life, Nadelman remained secluded, allowing his artistic career to fall into obscurity. Many small, terracotta figurines by Nadelman were discovered in his studio after his death.

Artist Bibliography

Birnbaum, Martin. Catalogue of an Exhibition of Sculptures and Drawings by Elie Nadelman. Scott & Fowles, Inc., New York, 1917.
Kirstein, Lincoln. Elie Nadelman. New York, 1973.
Wasserman, Jeanne L. Three American Sculptors and the Female Nude: Lachaise, Nadelman, Archipenko. Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1980.
Kirstein, Lincoln. Quarry: A Collection in Lieu of Memoirs. Pasadena, California, 1986.
Biographical sketch in Christie's, American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture of the 20th Century [auction cat.], New York, 1 December 1989.

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