Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Maggy

Raymond Duchamp-Villon

Raymond Duchamp-Villon (French 1876–1918) was a prominent Cubist sculptor. He first studied medicine but turned to sculpture during a period of illness. As an artist Duchamp-Villion was self-taught and, together with his two brothers Jaques Villon and Marcel Duchamp who were both well-known artists, he was part of the Puteau group and played a major roll in the development of Cubism with a number of exhibitions in Paris during the 1910s.

Duchamp-Villon contracted typhoid fever while in military service during World War I and died at the age of 42. An important driving force for Duchamp-Villon was to take sculpture out of the shadow of painting and give it a new and more independent roll. The artist propagated for sculpture in close alliance with architecture and maintained public sculpture to be the most important and the most interesting. One idea during this period was that of sculpture as the ultimate form of architecture.

Maggy (bronze 1912 purchased 1954) is a portrait of the wife of the poet Georges Ribemont Dessaignes. Another work in this series of heads by Duchamp-Villion, the Head of Apollinaire, is considered to be one of the first cubist sculptures, contemporary with the earliest cubist sculptures by Picasso. The artist has peeled off all the details of the head and refined its features to formalized shapes. It is in the interaction between concave and convex shapes that Duchamp-Villions’s own architectural interpretation of Cubism emerges.