Kenyon College

La Montagne


After Aristide Maillol
(French, 1861-1944)

La Montagne (exhibition copy), 2017.
76 x 83 x 40 in.
Gund Gallery Collection; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Graham Gund ’63, 2020.4.8.

Gund Gallery, East Patio

Aristide Maillol’s sculpted female nude appears to ascend from the block beneath her as she raises her hand to her face, embodying her allegorical title La Montagne (the mountain). The sheer size of this figure is a commanding aesthetic statement. Her pose is powerfully constructed through the strong geometry of intersecting triangles, which are shaped by angled limbs within the reclining form of her body. Her raised elbow and lifted knee interact to create a dynamic interplay of void and form, which is accentuated by the movement suggested in her raised hand and windswept hair.

La Montagne is the culmination of Maillol’s sculptural interpretations of the seated female. His work centered on the grace and elegance of the nude female form dates from the beginning of the 20th century when he created the resting La Nuit and the thoughtful La Méditerranée. In preparation for La Montagne, Maillol made several preliminary sketches and four different studies of Dina Vierny, a young Russian woman whose voluptuous physique resembles the forms of many of Maillol’s figurative sculptures. Maillol rejected emotional sculptures like that of his fellow French painter Rodin; instead, he designed for minimalism and tranquility that conjured the ideals of Classical Greece and Rome. Bold silhouette, clarity of volume and surface, and harmonious form distinguish La Montagne, yet her self-contained and introspective character is intriguing. The melancholic nature of the figure is enhanced by the gesture of the figure’s hand next to her flowing hair, which suggests the trace of a soft breeze.

Isabelle Brauer `16