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Biography of Antoine Bourdelle
The French sculptor Antoine Bourdelle was born in Montauban in 1861. His father was a carpenter; probably the reason why he will always be greatly attached to expertise and skills. Winner of a scholarship, the young man joins the Fine Arts School at the age of 15.
For a short time, he takes lessons at the Higher National School of Fine Arts in Paris where he will be a student of Alexandre Falguière, then he joins Julien Dalou’s workshop. In 1893, he is a simple subordinate in Auguste Rodin’s workshop with whom he will stay 15 years. He will work on many major sculptures such as « Les Bourgeois de Calais » and will become a close relative of Rodin.
In 1900, little by little Emile Bourdelle liberates himself from Rodin’s artistic influence with his « Tête d’Apollon ». His first personal exhibition is organized in 1905 by the art caster Hébrard. He definitely quits Rodin’s workshop in 1908 and realizes the following year « Héraclès archer », a huge sculpture today very famous. He starts teaching at the Grande Chaumière where among his many students, some will become major artists of their generation such as Matisse, Maillol, Iché, Giacometti, Germaine Richier or Maria Helena Vieira da Silva. The monumental sculptures by Antoine Bourdelle now forge him an international reputation. In 1913, he conceives for the Champs-Elysées theater (built by Auguste Perret) the set for the frontage and the reliefs of the atrium. At the Armory Show, first American event of contemporary art, his works stand alongside with the ones of Marcel Duchamp, Constantin Brancusi or Francis Picabia. The next year (1914), he is recognized at the Biennale in Vennezia and executes his « Centaure mourant ». After Rodin’s death in 1917, Bourdelle’s reputation is growing up and public orders increase. In 1923, he delivers to Argentina a huge work that required ten years of work, the « Monument au Général Alvear ». Antoine Bourdelle will exhibit abroad in his last years (Japan and United States in 1925, Belgium in 1928).
The sculptor dies in 1929 in Vésinet.