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Oggetto: Sculpture
Bacchanale During a visit to London in 1910, Malvina Hoffman attended two performances by the great Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (1882-1931). The program included the "Autumn Bacchanale" section of The Seasons by Aleksandr Glazunov (1865-1936), which Pavlova danced with her partner, Mikhail Mordkin. A spirited and erotic work, the "Bacchanale" was inspired by the legendary followers of Bacchus (Dionysus in Greek), the ancient god of wine. The piece featured the two dancers dashing about the stage, their movements accented by veils of floating gauze. Hoffman later recalled being struck by "impressions of motion of a new kind, of dazzling vivacity and spontaneity and yet with a control that could come only from long discipline and dedication." In 1912 Hoffman modeled a 14-inch composition of Pavlova and Mordkin called Bacchanale Russe (Russian Bacchanale). The smiling dancers were shown nude, holding a billowing scarf above their heads, as they made their entrance on stage. It took six weeks of modeling sessions to complete the composition. Hoffman wrote to her sister: "I have never had such a difficult problem-it's awful---I pray I may never be seized with the desire to fit two flying creatures together...again. If you could see the antics that go on, trying to get my two models to take the pose together!" Nine bronze casts were made of the original version during Hoffman's lifetime. In 1917 two casts were produced in a larger, nearly six-foot size. One was placed in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, where it was destroyed during the German Occupation of Paris in World War II. The other found a home in the garden of the Henry G. Dalton house on Lake Shore Boulevard in Bratenahl, Ohio. It was given to the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1943. Vibrant with life, the two figures demonstrate Hoffman's ability to capture a fleeting moment of the dance in tangible, permanent form, without sacrificing the rhythmic flow of live movement. The Sculptor and the Dancer Hoffman did not actually meet Anna Pavlova until 1914, four years after she first saw the dancer perform. The two women developed a warm friendship, with Pavlova encouraging Hoffman to attend rehearsals and make sketches from the wings during performances. They also collaborated, until Pavlova's death in 1931, on a long-term endeavor---a frieze of relief panels depicting the highpoints of the entire "Bacchanale" in sequence. Pavlova posed for the panels with partners Laurent Novikov and Alexander Volinine, but for Hoffman that was not enough. She prepared herself for the project by learning the entire dance herself and performing it with Pavlova's assistant partner, Andreas Pavley. From New York to Paris The daughter of English concert pianist Richard Hoffman, Malvina Hoffman grew up in New York City. Her artistic training began with drawing and painting, but after studying at the Art Students League and receiving helpful criticism from sculptors Herbert Adams (1858-1945) and Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941), she decided to concentrate on sculpture. Traveling to Europe in 1910, she studied with Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) in Paris. To provide herself with a solid foundation in the art and craft of sculpture she took courses in dissection at the Cornell College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and also learned the technology of casting, chasing, and patinating bronze. Hoffman's interest in the ballet did not preclude production of works dealing with other subjects. She completed several public monuments and numerous portraits, which earned her an international reputation and led to her most ambitious project: the 1929 commission from Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History for more than 100 life-size figures, heads, and busts representing the peoples of the earth.
Fonte: Bacchanale, 1917. Malvina Hoffman (American, 1887-1966). Bronze; without base: 172.7 x 137.2 cm (68 x 54 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, In memory of Julia K. Dalton by her nephews, George S. Kendrick and Harry D. Kendrick 1943.384


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