Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Valentine Schlegel: Sculptor of Organic Abstraction

Valentine Schlegel Sculptor: Valentine Schlegel working in the studio. Pinterest.

Women Artists

Valentine Schlegel: Sculptor of Organic Abstraction

Sculptor, ceramist, artist, teacher. Valentine Schlegel was a headstrong individual with fervent, creative independence who carved out her own path in history. Despite these achievements, her work was kept in the dark until just a few years ago. Hr legacy became more widely known thanks largely in part to the extensive research and dedication of artist and curator Hélène Bertin’s 2017 exhibition at CAC Arts Center in Bretigny, France. The exhibition, This Woman Could Sleep in Water, was an extensive tribute to this versatile, French modernist.

Valentine Schlegel, Vase
Valentine Schlegel Sculptor: Valentine Schlegel, Vase, 1955. Pinterest.

Teacher

Valentine Schlegel was born in 1925 in the southeast of France in the port town of Sète. She was born into a family of artisans and her love of the handmade grew from her roots. In 1942, she studied drawing at l’Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Montpellier. At 20 years old, Schlegel moved to Paris where perhaps she felt she could live more openly as a lesbian. It was there, at the heart of the Parisian arts culture, where she was exposed to ceramics and a world full of eclectic creatives including French New Wave filmmaker Agnes Varda. Schlegel later worked the first arts festival in Avignon designing costumes, painting sets, working as a props specialist, and ultimately a stage manager. She worked with the festival until 1951.


By 1956, she became a teacher and taught at the Musée de Arts Decoratifs in Paris from 1958 to 1987. Valentine taught using invented teaching methods perhaps more intuitively than most. Over the course of her teaching career at the school, she also founded the clay modeling department for workshops for young people under 15. Her works were also exhibited a number of times at the museum where she worked despite the fact that she opposed the idea of making work for the purpose of the institution. Valentine always stayed true to herself and her work. For years, she traveled between the south of France and Paris. The diversity of these two places definitely shaped and fueled her artistic practice.

Valentine Schlegel Sculptor: Valentine Schlegel, La Coeur
Valentine Schlegel Sculptor: Valentine Schlegel, La Coeur, 1952/53, private collection. Artnet.

Ceramist

Valentine experimented and worked with several different types of materials throughout her artistic career including wood, clay, textiles, leather, and plaster. Valentine was a skilled craftsperson who hand carved utensils and bowls from mahogany wood and made leather bags and sandals. She often collaborated with friends who made work of the same vein. Valentine created her work with the intention that it had a function, not just a lifeless object. She designed and made costumes during her time working with the Avignon Arts Festivals. Valentine also made numerous ceramic vases and vessels. Her experimentation with clay and her openness to discovery led to the creation of her gestural, biomorphic ceramics. These forms seem to be instinctively inspired by nature and the Mediterranean landscape of her childhood. They take on a life of their own as both functional and sculptural objects.

Valentine Schlegel Sculptor: Valentine Schlegel, hand carved wooden utensils.
Valentine Schlegel Sculptor: Valentine Schlegel, hand carved wooden utensils. Pinterest.

Sculptor

Beginning in 1960, Valentine turned her focus to architectural design and began creating plaster fireplaces in her own home. She then branched out to modernize the homes of friends and collectors. She wanted to activate the domestic space and encourage our bodies to engage with a sculpted interior by transforming the space into an intimate experience.


Many of her fireplace designs included shelves for home decor and seating accommodations. Valentine’s designs were extensions of natural forms: sweeping curves, wave-like, and mountainous shapes. She expanded her home designs to also include built-in bunk beds. Up until the year 2000, she produced her fireplaces working collaboratively with several assistants and artisans to realize her fantastic designs. These sculpted interiors breathed a new energy into a room and transformed an ordinary space into a “living” space.

Valentine Schlegel Sculptor: Valentine Schlegel, plaster fireplace design
Valentine Schlegel Sculptor: Valentine Schlegel, plaster fireplace design. Pinterest.

Artist

The works of Valentine Schlegel are timeless; they capture the essence of the natural world with an imaginative, abstract twist. While her personal life remains somewhat of a mystery, there are countless images of her work available to view online. Your eyes can feel the sensuous curves of her ceramics and sculpted fireplaces. Schlegel’s remarkable artistic contribution to architecture, sculpture, and ceramics is not to be forgotten. Valentine lives in Paris and her multifaceted body of work continues to inspire artists of today and tomorrow.

Valentine Schlegel, Ceramic Sculpture
Valentine Schlegel Sculptor: Valentine Schlegel, Ceramic Sculpture. Pinterest

Want to read more about modern sculpture? Check out:


Artist and Writer. Marga is fascinated and inspired by the ancient world, art history and archaeology. You can find more of her work here: www.margapatterson.com

Comments

More in Women Artists

  • 20th century

    Lee Krasner, Much More than a Muse

    By

    Lee Krasner (1908–1984) is better known as Jackson Pollock’s muse, but lately art critics have recognised her reputation as an artist in her own right. Since 2018, a retrospective of her work has been on tour. Here is a portrait of a very devoted woman and...

  • 20th century

    Vive la Belle Époque! Giovanni Boldini & Franca Florio

    By

    The history of the Belle Époque reveals many scandalous stories. Behind the elegant portraits are hidden the interesting lives of grand dames and adventurous gentlemen. Drawing inspiration from the article about John Singer Sargent’s Madame X, we decided to tell you about another major artist from...

  • 20th century

    The Dreamlike, Queer Femme Paintings of Marie Laurencin

    By

    Most art fans know the names of the male avant-garde artists in the early 1900s, but fewer people know of the women who mastered the craft. Marie Laurencin was one of those women. She created dreamy, surreal paintings that opened the door to a new realm of feminine...

  • 19th Century

    The Dazzling Davies Sisters and Their Impressionist Art

    By

    The Davies sisters grew up in a remote corner of Victorian Wales. They were religious, teetotal and never married. But these demure young women, with no previous art knowledge, managed to gather together probably the most important collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in the...

  • 20th century

    Painting of the Week: Henri Rousseau, The Football Players

    By

    Welcome to the bizarre world of Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), the quintessential naïve artist, and meet his oneiric, striped football players. Four almost identical men are having a good time, probably in a park in Paris. They are wearing what looks like striped pajamas and they all...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy