Lanleff-Demeure No. 4 1961
Artist: Henri Etienne-Martin (French, 1913-1995)
Materials: cast bronze
Provenance: The Art Institute of Chicago - Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold H. Maremon
Born in Loriol sur Drôme, France, in 1913, Henri Etienne-Martin was educated at the School of Fine Arts in Lyon where he studied sculpture from 1929 until 1933.
During various periods, his diverse approaches to sculpting utilized materials such as wood, bronze, string, plaster, and textiles.
Lanleff-Demeure No. 4 (1961) was created in Etienne-Martin's studio originally in plaster. The organic quality of the surface texture is a result of the artist having worked directly in wet plaster as he applied the material with his hands. Once the plaster model was completed, it was sent to a foundry where it was cast in sections in bronze. Those sections were then arranged and welded together to create the sculpture we see today.
This work is an example of the artist's mature style. Beginning in 1954, he created a series of sculptures which use the title "demeure" as a unifying agent. Demeure can be translated as "house" or "habitation," and it seems as though the artist meant to imply the series was to be representative of different "dwellings" which had made some sort of impact on him during his life.
The "Lanleff Temple," from which the piece derives its title, is an ancient structure of obscure origin in region of Brittany, where Etienne-Martin spent time after being released from a prisoner of war camp during World War II. Circular in design and now open to the elements, the temple's ruined stone walls rise at a gentle angle as they curve. Etienne-Martin's work echoes the structure in the upward thrust of its architecturally inspired stair-like forms. Illustrating classic strategies of surrealist abstraction, the forms which cap the sculpture seem to shift from a defensive parapet to figures in supplication while the central core seems to appear and disappear as the viewer circles the piece.