Red Stone Dancer, 1913-14 (posthumous cast, 1969)
About the artist
Born 1891 – Died 1915
Henri Gaudier-Brzeska created Red Stone Dancer between Autumn 1913 and January 1914. The sculpture is a development of the Dancer, completed only weeks before, which represents the high point of the artist’s assimilation of Rodin’s ideas of movement and modelling of the sculptural surface. Like its preparatory drawings, Red Stone Dancer shows a figure in powerful motion. Elaborating on Rodin’s idea of movement captured at the moment of transition from one pose to another, Gaudier introduces here the Vorticist postulate of a figure portrayed at its point of most compressed energy, as if she is about to metaphorically burst into a dance.
The splayed feet and taut legs give a powerful impression of movement checked. This is also emphasised in the positioning of the upraised arms. Gaudier moved here beyond the description of anatomical detail. The face, sensitively observed in the earlier Dancer, has been replaced by a triangle, whilst the fingers and toes are deftly indicated by linear strokes of the chisel similar to those in the Wrestlers relief. In the introduction to the memorial exhibition catalogue of 1918 (at the Leicester Galleries in London), Ezra Pound remarked upon the centrality of the spherical triangle in the sculptor’s work, and underlined how in Red Stone Dancer Gaudier had developed this feature as a “theme in a fugue”.
The bronze cast of Red Stone Dancer, which is unique, was made in 1969 by Michael Gillespie and acquired by Kettle’s Yard at the end of that year. The stone original was presented to the Tate Gallery in 1930 by the Contemporary Arts Society. The patination of the bronze in the Kettle’s Yard version imitates the red-brown hues of the original stone.
Provenance: gift of the Tate Gallery to H.S. Ede, December 1969.