Femme à la guitare, 1918
Lionel Pregjer, Paris.
Heinz Berggruen, Paris.
Galerie Gloria Cohen, Paris.
Private Collection, USA, acquired from the above in 1993.
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Claude Laurens dated 12 Feb. 1990.
By 1914 Henri Laurens had adopted the tenets of Analytical Cubism from Georges Braque, a close friend in the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris. He explored the new pictorial language simultaneously in painting and drawing and in sculpture. Beginning in 1915 he became preoccupied with the theme of a woman, usually depicted in bust form and often wearing a pearl necklace, such as Buste de femme au collier de perles (executed in August 1920). Other favourite Cubist motifs – such as the guitar – or techniques, including the stippled effects of ‘Confetti Cubism’, also feature prominently in works such as Femme à la guitare (1918). There is a close kinship between these drawings, with their planar quality and lack of tonal gradation, and the papiers collés (collages) Laurens produced between 1914 and 1919.
Laurens’ manner took on an increased classicism in the 1920s and he became interested in the figure as a whole, especially in his sculpture. Femme couchée au miroir (1922) and other such small-scale bronzes interpret the classical form of the reclining nude in a Cubist lexicon. Over the course of that decade, Laurens’s sculptural manner evolved to reflect new influences. Works such as Femme à la draperie (1928) move away from the angular forms of Cubism toward soft lines and elegant curves, which may also be a response to his friendship with the sculptor Aristide Maillol. According to Laurens’ dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, ‘The appearance of curvilinear forms in Laurens’s work in no way signalled a renunciation of Cubism but was part of a normal evolution towards a new orientation’ (quoted in W. Hofmann, The Sculptures of Henri Laurens, New York, 1970, p. 50).