La Renommée de l'Agriculture - Gustave Frederic Michel
As anyone who’s read a design blog in the past decade knows, there is a strong and verbal crowd out there that voraciously suckles at the teat of Mid-Century Modernism. And while STUDY loves Mid-Century in all its incarnations - be it Brutalist, New Formalist or even Googie - we're more than a little pleased that Mid-Century is finally loosening its choke hold on the design community... or that the masses have finally stopped sucking.
Or let's look at this another way: Modernist architecture? Fantastic. Modernist furniture? Yes, please. Modernist sculpture? ehhh... yes, but with caveats.
King and Queen - Henry Moore
We love you, we hate you, but do we want you in our home?
Mother and Child - Barbara Hepworth
So what of Modernism? It's not dead, for sure, but we here at STUDY think it never hurts to throw a little 19th century pathos into the mix every once and a while, which is exactly what we did when we picked up this little beauty courtesy of the Muriel S. Butkin Estate Auction benefiting the Cleveland Museum of Art:
She stands 15 3/4" tall and was sculpted by French Artist Gustave Frederic Michel as - most likely - an early study for a work he later cast in bronze, La Pensée.
We're quite fond of our version of La Pensée, which depicts a rather sober young French woman looking like she's stepped out of the pages of Within a Budding Grove or some equally dramatic belle epoque novel. She's all big billowy bow, serious expression, and just over the top enough for us to let her greet guests when they come into the living room.
Frankly, this is a trend we wouldn't mind seeing take off especially since there are virtually endless opportunities for variation and innovation as opposed to something like, oh, antlers. Although figurative sculpture also presents the problem of being cost-prohibitive and often delicate, something that hasn't gone unnoticed here at STUDY HQ since we're dealing with an almost 100 year-old piece of terra cotta.
It's often said that paint is the most game-changing element you can wield in a space, but if the following images are any indication, we may need to reevaluate:
STUDY hopes to eventually own another piece by Gustav Michel, but this may unfortunately involve buying A. a bridge in France:
Pont de Bir-Hakeim
Or B. A pylon in Paris:
La Renommée de l'Agriculture
Either way, it may just be worth it.