View Full Version : More info on Malvina Hoffman
12-04-2005, 06:20 PM
I just started reading "Heads and Tales" by Malvina Hoffman and I am fascinated with this woman. Does anyone know if there is a "Malvina Hoffman fan club" or where I can see her art now? Someone should make a movie about this woman!
12-04-2005, 08:45 PM
I don't know, but I have an old book by her; "Sculpture inside and out' by Bonanza books, it's a good one with many photos, including photos of her in her studio by huge works.
She did it all, stone, clay, bronze.
Wierd thing is, on page 244 and 245 are two full sized plates of her "European dancer"- part of a fountain she did, it shows some of her models for it in Rene Chambellain's studio being enlarged, and the other shows her beside one of the models. What was interesting to me in the one of Rene's studio is that I have a cast iron architectural antique whose original design in the 1920's was commissioned by the City of New York.
An astoundingly good photo of her appears here;
Anyone know where Rene's studio was exactly? I heard it was in Midtown Manhattan near the Hudson River I think
12-04-2005, 10:00 PM
I researched Malvina Hoffman quite a bit when I first took several classes about 1968 - 1970. She evidently traveled around the world, sculpting "prototypes" or typical figures in various ethnic or racial societies worldwide, with the idea of casting these for a Chicago museum.
I consider her work excellent sculpturally, and have seen at least one cast in person - a Masai warrior from Kenya. However, she worked about the time figuration was declining in "fashion", and I suspect most of her work was lost.
You are right that more publicity is deserved.
12-04-2005, 10:18 PM
don't forget GOOGLE is your friend...
Malvina Hoffman (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Malvina+Hoffman&btnG=Google+Search) and Rene Chambellan (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Rene+Chambellan&spell=1).
12-04-2005, 10:25 PM
I noticed her name and her book while reading Tuck Langland's book "From Clay to Bronze".
This is what Tuck said of Malvina Hoffman's out-of-print book "Sculptures Inside and Out".
If you can find a copy, this is a wonderful book. The techniques are very dated, but there is an enthusiasm and joy in the writing. Ms Hoffman has written two other books: Heads and Tails, which describes her commission to create bronzes of the seventy-odd races of mankind for Chicago's Field Museum, and Yesterday is Tomorrow, an account of her extrodinary life. All three are great reading.
By the way, solofoo, if you do Google searchs at www.google.com, you can see photos of her artworks, and find out which museums have her sculptures in their collections and on display.
12-05-2005, 12:27 AM
Another good page about her with a cool photo of her carving a huge statue;
Theres an amateur film of the 1939 World's Fair, reel 6 has a portion of sculptures in it, including sculptures and several fountains one of which is Hoffman's
Fast forward to about 11 minutes in.
A reviewer indexed the scenes somewhat loosely but in order as follows for the sculptures and fountains;
- unknown mermaid fountain statue
- statue at France Overseas Pavilion
- unknown horse fountain statue
- Malvina Hoffman's 'Dances of the Races'
- more statuary in Perylon Court
- unknown statue of two figures with wings
- replica of 'Hermes and the Infant Dionysos' by Praxiteles
- statuary at the Soviet Pavilion
- unknown woman riding a bull again
- unknown relief
- unknown figure on an arc
- John Gregory's 'Four Victories of Peace'
- unknown figure on animal
- Chester Beach's 'Riders of the Elements'
02-20-2006, 10:34 PM
Some of her work is in the field museum of natural history in Chicage.
This is the stuff that pulled me to a love of the figurative, and led me to ditch school and drive to chicago to caress and sit and gaze at her work for hours-back in the day when a lad could run his fingers lovingly over a sculpture and feel it's strength and the give and take of its contours without upsetting a guard
I was once cought playing hookie in this museum
in later years, while at university in chicago, I would give impromptu lectures on what was right, and what was based on bad information on their various exhibits----especially the old neanderthal exhibit, great place, impossible to see it all in one day ---
05-05-2006, 01:14 AM
I first came across her book "Sculpture Inside&Out" in 1978, wonderful stories and anecdotes- romantic and heroic.
Inspirational in fact!
During my college days that I had the priviledge of studying with one of the featured artist-A.J.J Ayres, (Arthur) stone-carver, photo 149.pp.177, a wonderful, compact, taciturn man.
I consider her photo pp303 of the "master Patineurs" Pere and Jean Limet to be one of the great sculpture images of all time, sums up the ethos and humour of sculpture!
I once saw a beautiful head of hers in an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London.
07-26-2006, 07:39 PM
Thanks for all the feedback! I definitely have to go to Chicago and check out that museum!
08-30-2006, 09:46 PM
If you go to Chicago to see Malvina's work at the field museum ( definitely worthwhile ) I would also recommend going to the University of Chicago campus by the Midway Plaiasance where another great sculptor from that era, Lorado Taft, had his studio. The studio has been converted to the use of the sculpture department, and some of his works are in the hallways. OR at least they were 12 years ago when I was there last. Sadly, I asked a sculpture student in the building if she knew who Lorado Taft was and she had no idea. What a world!
Also near that building is his huge outdoor concrete "Fountain of Time". I first discovered this during a solo walk from the southside of Chicago at 10 p.m. to Evanston ( 30 miles? ) at noon when I was 20. I came upon this colossal work with about 3 dozen figures sometime around midnight. I thought I was hallucinating, it was so incredible and unexpected, and nobody else around.
Also, his Fountain of the Lakes on the South wall of the Art institute is well worth seeing. Also Albin Polasek's ( Goddess of ) Music statue from 1924 was a childhood favorite and still is. I believe it is on Michigan Ave. around Grant Park, home of the incredible Buckingham fountain......ooops....was this a Malvina Hoffman thread?
09-02-2006, 08:43 AM
I've lived in Chicago for 30 years, so I guess I'd be lucky if I liked Malvina Hoffman sculpture -- but I don't -- indeed -- I can't stand it. Yes-- it's finely crafted with all this anatomical detail --- but that's not what I want from figure sculpture. For me, these pieces at the Field are just biological specimens -- without, thankfully, their tanned hides.
What I like at the Field are the rooms of sculpture/masks/artifacts from peoples around the world.
But I also like the sculpture made by the amazing Conrad Akeley (inventor, explorer, taxidermist, conservationist --- and sculptor)
He has a sense for forms living in space that is completely foreign to Malvina Hoffman. BTW -- The Art Institute has recently installed one of her art-deco pieces in its permanent display of American art.
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