An international art exhibition at the 1925 World’s Fair in Paris was said to be the unveiling of many avant-garde ideas that ended the Art Nouveau period and established the foundation for the Art Deco period.
THE 1925 WORLD'S FAIR BEGAN THE ART DECO ERA
Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s, exotic subject matter dominated the art world, particularly in sculpture. Displaying the energy and optimism of the flapper era, subjects were primarily animal figures such as gazelles and panthers and intricately-detailed female figures such as dancers, clowns, and athletes. In addition, these works evoke the sordid demi-monde of the 1930's Berlin cabarets. The dominant sculptural medium was bronze. Compared to clay and marble, bronze was favored for its stability, particularly concerning figures in action.
THE LEVEL OF DETAIL IS AMAZING
Bruno Zach's sculpting process was very cumbersome. It involved creating a mold with a clay form and an exterior shell of wax and wood. Liquefied bronze alloy was then poured into the form. As it expanded slightly while setting, it facilitated the separation of the form from its shell. The results typically included lifelike details with distinguished coloration and unmatched stability, even when exposed to the elements. Unfortunately, many of these bronze sculptures were destroyed during times of war in order to produce weapons.
THE VIENNA ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS
There were many centers of art during the Art Deco period but one of particular interest was the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Artists came from all areas of Austria, as well as Germany, the Ukraine and Europe to study with masters and practice their craft in the city’s foundries.
THE NAKED RIDER BY JOSEF MÜELLNER (1908)
One of the dominant professors at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts was Austrian sculptor Josef Müllner (1879-1968). Although his work was brilliant in form some of his pieces caused much debate and controversy. He had been commissioned to produce many pieces for the German leadership, including a bust of Hitler. Although he accepted the work, he was reported to have detested the Nazi regime.
THE DIVER BY FERDINAND PREISS
Another great influencer in the Vienna Art Deco community was German sculptor Ferdinand Preiss (1882-1943). Beginning as a young ivory-carver’s apprentice, Preiss began with small ivory statuettes of children and later transitioned to painted bronze with ivory.
DANCER IN BRONZE AND IVORY BY BRUNO ZACH
The work of Bruno Zach (1891-1945), a Ukrainian sculptor, closely resembles the work of Preiss. Zach studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna under Hans Bitterlich and Josef Müllner and created bronze or bronze and ivory statuettes. His subjects were tall, athletic, highly-sophisticated women often dressed in leather trouser suits, insolently smoking cigarettes. Many of his works depicted popular American icons such as cowboys on horseback.
COWBOY BY BRUNO ZACH
He was particularly inspired by erotic affection. Many of his best pieces were inspired by the flow of erotic affection: exquisite forms of scantily dressed women and couples dancing or otherwise intertwined. Honing his skills through work at varies foundries in Vienna, Zach gained great recognition with his sculptures of dancing women.
BRUNO ZACH'S HORSE & WOMAN IN BRONZE & IVORY (1925)
FROM THE RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX COLLECTION
The Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection features an important piece of Zach’s work: the striking “Horse & Woman” (1925), masterful combination of bronze and ivory on a marble base. The horse stands calmly behind a female rider as she adjusts her gloves. The elegant lines and fine detail make this piece the center attraction of any room. If you are interested in acquiring, in the future, this magnificent piece for your collection, contact Mr. Amyx for a confidential discussion.
RALEIGH DEGEER AMYX
HISTORIAN & COLLECTOR