Henri Laurens

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Henri Laurens, 1920, Le Petit boxeur, 43 cm, reproduced in Život 2 (1922), p 53
Henri Laurens, Céline Arnauld, reproduced in Tournevire, Edition de L'Esprit Nouveau, 1919[1]

Henri Laurens (February 18, 1885 – May 5, 1954) was a French sculptor and illustrator.

Early life and education[edit]

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.[2]

Laurens was exempted from call-up for the First World War, after having a leg amputated in 1909 due to osteo-tuberculosis.[3]

Multi-talented, Laurens worked with poster paint, and collage, was an engraver and created theatre design and decoration. In 1915 he illustrated a book for his friend, the author Pierre Reverdy.

In 1937 he was awarded the Helena Rubinstein Prize, which brought him in additional commissions.[4] 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.[4]

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.[5]


Henri Laurens died in Paris, after collapsing while out on an evening walk,[4] and was interred in the Cimetière du Montparnasse there. His tomb is decorated with his sculpture, La Douleur (Grief, see image).

See also[edit]

Crystal Cubism


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Cooper, Philip. Cubism. London: Phaidon, 1995, p. 114. ISBN 0714832502
  4. ^ a b c Georges Braque (1964). Georges Braque (1882-1963), Henri Laurens (1885-1954): Drawings, Gouaches and Collages. J.P.L. Fine Arts. p. 22.
  5. ^ Frampton, Kenneth (1995). Studies in Tectonic Culture. London: The MIT Press. pp. 277, 279. ISBN 0-262-56149-2.

External links[edit]