Early life and education
Born in Paris, Henri Laurens worked as a stonemason before he became a sculptor. In 1899 he attended drawing classes, during which he produced works that were greatly influenced by the popularity of Auguste Rodin.
Later Laurens was drawn to a new gathering of artistic creativity in Montparnasse. From 1915 he began to sculpt in the Cubist style after meeting Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris and Fernand Léger.
Laurens was exempted from call-up for the First World War, after having a leg amputated in 1909 due to osteo-tuberculosis.
In 1937 he was awarded the Helena Rubinstein Prize, which brought him in additional commissions. In 1938 he shared an exhibition with Braque and Picasso that travelled to major Scandinavian cities. In 1947, he made prints for book illustrations. In 1948 he exhibited his art at the important international Venice Biennale. That same year, he exhibited at the Galerie d'Art Moderne in Basel, Switzerland.
Many of his sculptures are massive objects. An example of this style is the monumental piece L'Amphion, which he first designed on a smaller scale before created the final version in 1952 for the Central University of Venezuela, Caracas, after a request from the architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva.
Laurens sculptural work influenced the work of architect Jørn Utzon, famous for the Sydney Opera House, in particular Laurens' tomb for an aviator designed for the cemetery of Montparnasse, Paris, in 1924.
Henri Laurens died in Paris, after collapsing while out on an evening walk, and was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse there. His tomb is decorated with his sculpture, La Douleur (Grief, see image).
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- Henri Laurens, in Celine Arnauld, Tournevire: Roman. Paris: Editions de "L'Esprit nouveau", 1919, p. 6. The International Dada Archive, The University of Iowa Libraries
- Christopher Green, Cubism and its Enemies, Modern Movements and Reaction in French Art, 1916–1928, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1987, p. 23.
- Cooper, Philip. Cubism. London: Phaidon, 1995, p. 114. ISBN 0714832502
- Georges Braque (1964). Georges Braque (1882-1963), Henri Laurens (1885-1954): Drawings, Gouaches and Collages. J.P.L. Fine Arts. p. 22.
- Frampton, Kenneth (1995). Studies in Tectonic Culture. London: The MIT Press. pp. 277, 279. ISBN 0-262-56149-2.
- ‹See Tfd›Henri Laurens in American public collections, on the French Sculpture Census website
- Henri Laurens in the collections of the V&A