MoMA
Aristide Maillol. The River. Begun 1938-39; completed 1943 (cast 1948)
Aristide Maillol

The River

Begun 1938-39; completed 1943 (cast 1948)
On view
Medium
Lead
Dimensions
53 3/4" x 7' 6" x 66" (136.5 x 228.6 x 167.7 cm), on lead base designed by the artist 9 3/4 x 67 x 27 3/4" (24.8 x 170.1 x 70.4 cm)
Printer
Alexis Rudier
Credit
Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund
Object number
697.1949
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The daring instability and torsion of The River are rare in Maillol's sculpture. Instead of trying to emulate the dynamism of twentieth-century life, as did so many artists of his time, Maillol usually sought an art of serenity and stillness, of classical nobility and simplicity. As late as 1937, in fact, he remarked, "For my taste, there should be as little movement as possible in sculpture." Yet within a year or so afterward he had conceived The River, a work in which the movement is almost reckless.

Commissioned to create a monument to a notable pacifist, the French writer Henri Barbusse, Maillol conceived the sculpture as a work on the theme of war: a woman stabbed in the back, and falling. When the commission fell through, he transformed the idea into The River. In a departure from the usual conventions of monumental sculpture, the figure lies low to the ground and rests apparently precariously on the pedestal, even hanging below its edge. Twisting and turning, her raised arms suggesting the pressure of some powerful current, this woman is the personification of moving water.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 169
Provenance information
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from the Eugène Rudier Fondeur

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
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North America: Art Resource