Monday, 7 January 2013

Arthur Dupagne (1895-1961)

It was whilst I was searching for imformation on Emile Monier that I discovered the talents of Arthur Dupagne (1895-1961) and like Monier the enduring theme through his work is Africa and especially the peoples of the Congo.

It's the sculptural nature of the figures that attracts me - there is an architectural feel to them, enough but not too much detail, just a few layers of shapes built up to created a striking composition, just feel the power!! A very "art deco" way of looking at the world. Impressionism with shapes rather than colours.
My initial interest was medals and the artists that created them, for some that was there main area of productivity whilst for other, like Dupagne, it was just another outlet for his talent. He could apply his style to monumental sculpture as comfortably as he was able in miniature.

.... and the man ..
Arthur Dupagne was a Belgium artist born in Liège in 1895; he know to have studied at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Liège, where studied under the artists Georges Petit and the Belgium sculptor  Oscar Berchmans (1869-1950).

This training gave him a stolid base from which to develop his own style. A style that was formed from the period (1927-1935) he spent working in the Belgium Congo as an engineer in the diamond mines of Kasai. Where he encountered the ethnic native art of the Tchokwe Kingdom with scary masks - a direct influence can be seen in his later works.

His now fully developed style earned him numerous commissions, including scultpures for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1938, another for the New York Worlds' Fair of 1939 and the Bantu torque for the Brussels World Fair in 1958 .

The monumental bas relief sculpture created for the Worlds' Fair survives, having bequested to the Virginia Union University and is located on the inner courtyard at the base of the majestic Belgian Friendship Tower.

His work is featured in museum and gallery collections around the world including; the Museum of Walloon Art in Liège, the Municipal Museum of Fine Arts d'Ixelles and the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren .


Striking works of art, well worth looking for.

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