Material Matters: The Sculptures of Elie Nadelman
April 2, 2023–September 24, 2023
The Polish-American modernist artist Elie Nadelman (1882-1946) is best known for his sculptural exploration of pure form. Nadelman’s sculptures range from idealized heads and animals to subjects drawn from everyday life.
The modernist artist Elie Nadelman (American, b. Poland, 1882–1946) is best known for his sculptural explorations of pure form. Melding classical source material and folk art, Nadelman’s sculptures range from idealized heads and animals to genre subjects drawn from everyday life, such as acrobats, circus performers, and dancers.
Featuring more than twenty sculptures, Material Matters: The Sculptures of Elie Nadelman showcases the artist’s experimentation with materials. In the early 1910s, he created idealized, classical heads in conventional materials such as bronze, marble, and stone. He expanded his practice by the end of the decade to include wood and plaster figural sculptures inspired by his experience of living in New York City. From the 1920s until the end of his career, Nadelman increasingly gravitated toward inexpensive, nontraditional materials. He worked with galvano-plastique (a form of electroplated plaster), papier-mâché, plaster, and ceramics to create affordable works that he could market to the general public. The painted, textured, and weathered surfaces of Nadelman’s sculptures—their insistent materiality—are part and parcel of Nadelman’s modernity.
Organized thematically, the works on view explore the artist’s approaches to the figure, form, and abstraction. Nadelman used mediums interchangeably, simulated and differentiated surface treatments, and produced infinite variations of small-scale works—whether glazed or unglazed, painted or unpainted—to create unique, but related multiples. As this exhibition demonstrates, Nadelman’s innovations with material are a defining aspect of his practice.
Material Matters: The Sculpture of Elie Nadelman is generously underwritten by:
The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund
Committee of Honor and Co-Chairs: Patricia and John Chadwick, Bill Deutsch, Lily DeJongh Downing and David Yudain, Sachiko Goodman, Karen and Dennis Keegan, Michael Kovner and Jean Doyen de Montaillou, Gale and Bob Lawrence, Susan and Bill Mahoney, Chris and Bill Nichols, and Jaqueline and Arthur Walker
Leader: Bill Deutsch, Gale and Bob Lawrence, and Susan and Bill Mahoney
Master: Lily DeJongh Downing and David Yudain, The Goergen Foundation, Susan and Bill Mahoney, and Jacqueline and Arthur Walker
Champion: Patricia and John Chadwick, Carolyn and Maurice Cunniffe, Dr. Robin Jaffee Frank and Robert S. Frank, Sachiko Goodman, Karen and Dennis Keegan, Michael Kovner and Jean Doyen de Montaillou, Chris and Bill Nichols, Homer and Coverly Rees, Arthur Stampleman and Cynthia Mackay, and Ronald and Davidde Strackbein
Elie Nadelman (American, b. Poland, 1882–1946)
High Kicker, c. 1920
Cherry wood, 29 ½ x 13 ½ x 6 in.
Promised Gift to the Bruce Museum
© Estate of Elie Nadelman. Photo: Paul Mutino.
Art Adventures: Material Matters
Dates: April 29, 2023 and April 20, 2023
Time: 1:00 PM–3:00 PM
Audience: Families/Intergenerational (5 and up)
Cost: Free with admission
Description: A drop-in program designed for children aged 5 and up and their families. In this program, participants will have the opportunity to craft fun and creative works of art inspired by the Museum’s collections and exhibitions. This program is free with general admission and no advance registration is required.
Art Adventures: Material Matters
Community Day: Summer Block Party
Dates: June 10, 2023 and June 11, 2023
Time: 10:00 AM–5:00 PM
Teens @ Bruce
Date: June 24, 2023
Time: 5:00 PM–8:00 PM
Description: Teens @ Bruce is a Museum-wide event that is exclusively for teens that includes hands on activities, performances, and more.