FAIR PARK, DALLAS, 1936
Fair Park was built in Dallas for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936. Three French sculptors were among the artists in charge of decorating the buildings. In 2011, Anne-Laure GARREC, an intern from the École du Louvre, Paris, spent three months (July-September) researching their participation. This is the result.
Fair Park (ill. 1), named a national historic site in 1986, constitutes the largest ensemble of Art Deco architecture in the United States. In 1936 the city of Dallas was honored to be the venue for the Texas Centennial Exposition, an event that commemorated the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, which won Texas its independence from Mexico. In the 1930s, the Exposition gave the civic leaders of Dallas an opportunity to improve the city’s poor economy. The modern aesthetic of the Exposition, in which art and architecture carry on a dialogue, provided visitors with a means of escape from the daily reality of the Great Depression.
At the end of 1934, the city of Dallas offered the best financial support for the Texas Centennial Exposition, and therefore it was chosen as the site of the event among a number of other contenders, including the cities of Houston, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. George Dahl was named by the Texas Centennial Corporation chief architect for the Exposition, as well as its technical director. Ten architectural offices were invited to participate in the project under the direction of Dahl.
The plan for Fair Park was developed from ideas put forth by Paul Philippe Cret, a celebrated Philadelphia architect, who had been invited as a consultant for the project. Cret had been a consulting architect for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. In about four days Cret created a design for the Texas Exposition that was inspired by the traditional Beaux Arts style and by the Chicago World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition of 1893, also known as the “White City.” Cret revisited the original plan for Fair Park, created by the German-American city planner and landscape architect George Kessler, in 1904, and brought it to life with the inclusion of a large water basin. The site was further distinguished by large plazas, fountains, and numerous walkways. Visitors could gain access to the exposition by three principal entrances off of Parry, Second, and Pennsylvania Avenues.
George Dahl was given the task of engaging artists to decorate the site with illustrations of the history of Texas. He recruited, for this task, not only local artists, but also a great number of foreign ones. He chose, in particular, French artists who had worked on the 1933 Chicago exposition: Pierre Bourdelle Raoul Josset, and José Martin, who had been recommended to him by the architect Donald Nelson. Dahl had full confidence in Pierre Bourdelle and Raoul Josset, as he had viewed earlier works by these artists and therefore was familiar with their artistic abilities. He also employed Lawrence Tenney Stevens, whom he had met for the first time in Europe. Among the other artists, one must include Carlo Campaglia, Julian E. Garnsey, Otis Dozier, Rodan Perry Nichols, and Pierre Biza. During his travels, George Dahl had met most of these artists, who were underemployed due to the Great Depression and therefore were specializing in the creation of public works destined to decorate the great expositions.
Work on the colossal project at Fair Park did not begin in earnest until October 1935. George Dahl had set aside no more than nine months for the renovation or construction of twenty-six principal buildings and for the creation of their artistic decoration. Contrary to earlier expositions, the buildings in Fair Park were built to last. Many of them remain in use today: the Texas Hall of State, the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Aquarium, the Discovery Gardens, and the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, Science Place, and the Fair Park Planetarium.
George Dahl was not chosen by chance as chief architect for the Exposition. In the course of his travels in Europe and in the United States, Dahl had visited six international expositions, whose architecture he could admire and study. His achievement in Texas is comparable, notably, to the Stockholm Exposition of 1930, co-designed by the functionalist architect Gunnar Asplund, and to the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. The new buildings for Fair Park were distinguished by formal geometry and vividly contrasting colors. Dahl had embraced the modern style known as Art Deco in order to illustrate the “texanique” theme of the exposition, “the color, romance and grandeur that had marked the development of Texas… the romance of Spain and Mexico, combined with the culture of the Old South. (1)”
The artists arrived in Dallas in February 1936. They had only four months to complete their work for the Exposition. All were placed under the general direction of Pierre Bourdelle, Carlo Campaglia and Julian E. Garnsey. The sculptors were supervised by Lawrence Tenney Stevens, Raoul Josset, Jefferson Elliott Breer and José Martin. Raoul Josset, assisted by his friend José Martin, was assigned the creation of three statues representing France, Mexico and the United States, while Lawrence Tenney Stevens was assigned the statues representing Texas, Spain, and the Confederacy. The six statues were to symbolize the six governments which had successively ruled over Texas before it became part of the United States of America. Donald Nelson originally wanted these statues to be polychromed, however, determining that the polychromy might jeopardize the harmony of the sculpture with the architecture, he ultimately abandoned this idea. Raoul Josset and José Martin co-signed two other sculptures: Spirit of the Centennial and American Eagle. Pierre Bourdelle alone signed seven bas-reliefs that were intended to decorate the two buildings flanking the north and south side of the central basin. He also created the bas-reliefs on pylons situated at the southwest extremity of the esplanade.
Statues representing France, Mexico and the United States by Raoul Josset and José Martin at the Pavilion of the Automobile
Raoul Josset created three of the six statues [situated] along the esplanade in a style influenced by classical Greek art. The statues, carved in stone, represent France, Mexico and the United States, and they are placed in three niches on the façade of the pavilion of Electricity, Communication and Industry. In 1936 George Dahl redesigned the Automobile and Manufacturers Building of 1922 and flanked it with two other buildings: the Hall of Electricity and Communications and the Hall of Varied Industries. This ensemble was destroyed by fire in 1942, however, another building, known as the Pavilion of the Automobile, designed by Walter Ahlschlager, was constructed on this site six years later.
France (ill. 2)
Raoul Josset chose to represent France with her right arm lifted as a sign of patriotic fervor. The fleur de lys on her breast is said to represent the era in which Sir Robert La Salle arrived in Texas. The artist is quoted as saying, “in order to add a little spice to the severity of the figure, I placed a bunch of grapes in her left hand to illustrate the abundance and good cheer of the nation. (2)”
Mexico (ill. 3)
The statue of Mexico was given an even more severe aspect than that of France in order to emphasize the conquering ambition of this Central American nation. Josset wanted the statue to represent the traits of a native Mexican, whose lock of hair falls along the torso to emphasize its hieratic character.
United States (ill. 4)
The United States is represented by a smiling human figure holding a laurel bough in her right hand. According to Josset, the laurel symbolizes everything the American people had fought for: peace, glory, and liberty. Her breast is decorated with an eagle, and she holds a veil in her uplifted hands, suggesting the extended wings of a bird. The French artist added this element in order to give the figure a sense of lightness.
Spirit of the Centennial and Fish Sculpture by Raoul Josset and José Martin (ill. 5)
The statue known as the Spirit of the Centennial, by Raoul Josset and José Martin, now decorates one to the facades of The Women’s Museum (originally the Pavilion of Government). The statue is carved in stone and represents a young, female nude standing on a cactus and holding some cotton in her left hand. According to Josset, the young girl represents both warmth and the quality of life in Texas, the hospitality and the joy in life of its inhabitants, as well as the health and strong character of its workers (3).
José Martin executed the statue, after a drawing by Josset, in only ten days. Martin asked Georgia Carroll, a young resident of Dallas, aged sixteen or seventeen, to serve as his a model. Since she refused, the artist was obliged to use only her face for inspiration.
Josset and Martin also created the fountain situated in the water basin at the foot of the Spirit of the Centennial. It is composed of five fishes jumping out of the water and following a curving path composed of parallel arcs from two circles.
American Eagle by Raoul Josset and José Martin (ill. 6)
Raoul Josset created the relief of an Eagle at the top of the Federal Building as a symbol of the United States of America. The gilded eagle contrasts with the grey tower on which it sits. Its quasi integration with the tower gives the ensemble a formal equilibrium and an aesthetic homogeneity. Josset also wanted his work to call to mind the monumental art of ancient Egypt. Josset said of this piece, “I believe that monumental sculpture is not only the most noble and heroic expression of plastic art, but it is at the same time a poem, an architecture, and a science. […] The sculptor must compose and balance the volumes of a statue in a perfect, logical equilibrium. Eternal symphony, which contributes to the one perfection and happiness. Harmony in life. (4)” The original work was replaced by a copy in 1998.
Medallion of Negro Life by Raoul Josset
Josset created an ornamental work, since destroyed, for the entrance façade of the Negro Life Building. His goal was to represent both the labor of the black population in the United States, as well as its accomplishments in the areas of agriculture, industry, education, and music (5).The artist chose, therefore, to sculpt a bas-relief of a black man crouching with his hands lifted towards the sky in the manner of the mythic Titan, Atlas.
(1) George Dahl in Willis Cecil Winters, Fair Park, Arcadia Publishing, 1996, p. 67.
(2) Dallas Historical Society Archives, Texas Centennial Collection A.38.3.
1. Fair Park, Dallas (ph Wikimedia, Joe Mabel)
2. Raoul JOSSET and José MARTIN, France, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. courtesy Jim Parsons and David Bush, Fair Park Deco)
3. Raoul JOSSET and José MARTIN, Mexico, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. courtesy Jim Parsons and David Bush, Fair Park Deco)
4. Raoul JOSSET and José MARTIN, United States, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. courtesy Jim Parsons and David Bush, Fair Park Deco)
5. Raoul JOSSET and José MARTIN, Spirit of the Centennial and Fish Fountain, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. Wikimedia, Andreas Praefcke, 2009)
6. Raoul JOSSET and José MARTIN, American Eagle, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. courtesy Jim Parsons and David Bush, Fair Park Deco)
Bas-reliefs by Pierre Bourdelle for the Pavilions of the Centennial and of the Automobile
Pierre Bourdelle was obliged to adapt his works to the narrative of the Exposition, that is to pay homage to the regional Texas culture while celebrating the embodiment of progress, notably, by the great automobile industry of Ford or General Motors. He therefore created four bas-reliefs symbolizing ground, air, rail and maritime transport for the ornamentation of the Pavilion of Transportation, known today as the Pavilion of the Centennial. These reliefs are as follows.
Man and Angel, bas-relief, colored cement, by Pierre Bourdelle (ill. 1)
Man and Angel symbolizes air transport. Bourdelle chose to give form to the notion of speed by representing a man flying with an angel. In this work he developed a futuristic aerodynamic aesthetic by using various graphic elements. The curved line of the bodies and of the blue veil give the illusion of fluid movement. Speed is illustrated further by the straight lines on the far left and at the level of the angel’s hair. Upon observing more closely the design of the figures, the viewer will notice a simplicity and standardization of the forms, notably in the profiles of the faces, whose treatment is animated and angular. In contrast, the design of the bodies is classical, and the viewer will note the abandonment of a hieratic bearing in favor of movement. The representation of the two figures can readily be compared to those on ancient Greek vases.
Cougar and Bison, bas-relief, colored cement, by Pierre Bourdelle (ill. 2)
Cougar and Bison, also known as Streamline, represents ground transport. The bison appears to be in a full run in order to escape an attack by the cougar. The design of their bodies follows a curved line, again, in order to convey a sense of movement. The impression of speed is reinforced by an ensemble of blue, white, and cream lines. The word “streamline,” used to define this work, is not insignificant. In French this word translates as ligne aérodynamique, aerodynamic line. The word originally defined a scientific principle, which was afterwards appliedby industrial designersto objects, trains, and boats in order to define their aerodynamic aesthetic. Once the term was popularized, it became synonymous with speed and modernity in the American imagination.
Man and Eagle, bas-relief, colored cement, by Pierre Bourdelle (ill. 3)
Man and Eagle, or Locomotive Power, represents rail transport. The locomotive is evoked in the background by a large blue wheel apparently being put into action by an athletic male figure and a stylized eagle. These two figures emit an extraordinary force, which illustrates the power that is required in order to put a locomotive in motion. Possibly Pierre Bourdelle also wanted to symbolize the antagonistic, but inevitable, encounter between nature and machine, between the ancient and the modern worlds.
Man and Horse, bas-relief, colored cement, by Pierre Bourdelle (ill. 4)
Man and Horse, or Man Taming a Wild Horse, the final bas-relief for the Centennial Pavilion, represents maritime transport. Bourdelle doubtlessly perceived in the idea of wild nature a common denominator between this [wild] animal and water. The man tries to gain mastery over the horse, as he will over water. Their elongated bodies, entangled in a tumult of curved lines give the impression of movement and speed, the whole evoking the oscillation of water.
Pierre Bourdelle’s bas-reliefs for the Pavilion of Electricity, Communication, and Industry
In 1936 Pierre Bourdelle also created three bas-reliefs to decorate the Pavilion of Electricity, Communication, and Industry. Their style is comparable to that of the four reliefs for the Centennial Pavilion. The artist used the same materials and creative techniques in the production of these works. Unfortunately all three works were destroyed in the 1942 fire. Today, only engraved glass plaques and photographs bear witness to their original state.
Texas Youth, bas-relief (destroyed) colored cement, by Pierre Bourdelle (ill. 5)
Pierre Bourdelle again celebrated Texas culture by choosing a typical regional subject: the cowboy.
Runners/Racers, bas-relief (destroyed) colored cement, by Pierre Bourdelle
In this work Bourdelle revisited the theme of speed already illustrated in bas-reliefs for the Centennial Pavilion. As in Cougar and Bison, the bas-relief Runners appears to illustrate ground transportation by evoking a foot race.
Man and Woman, bas-relief (destroyed), colored cement, by Pierre Bourdelle
Pierre Bourdelle’s bas-reliefs on the pillars of the central basin
Pegasus, bas-relief, colored cement (ill. 6)
Siren, bas-relief, colored cement (ill. 7)
Shell, bas-relief, colored cement (ill. 8)
At the extreme southwest of the esplanade at Fair Park two fountains are situated on each side of the water basin. Each takes the form of an ornamented pylon; on the front of one is a representation of Pegasus, and the front of the other displays a siren. The reverse of the two pylons is decorated with a stylized shell. Here again Bourdelle makes reference to the art of classical antiquity by choosing a mythological subject and a style of representation inspired by ancient Greece.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt opened the Texas Centennial Exposition on June 6, 1936. More than seven million people visited this exceptional site, which employed over 15,000 persons. The event boosted the economy of the city of Dallas, which witnessed a healing response to the Great Depression.
The site of Fair Park did not evolve until the 1980s, except for the pavilion of Electricity, Communication, and Industry, which was burned in the 1942 fire and rebuilt in 1948, when it was renamed the Pavilion of the Automobile. The three reliefs by Bourdelle that were destroyed in 1942 were not recreated during the campaign to restore Fair Park, which began in 1998, due to an insufficient knowledge of the originals. The bas-reliefs for the Centennial Pavilion have been restored, as well as the sculptures on the esplanade, the Spirit of the Centennial, and the Fish sculpture at its feet.
Two different-colored layers of cement are superimposed on a wall. These layers are either pigmented or painted on the surface with oil paint. The artist then sculpts the top layer of cement in order to reveal the lower stratum [of the relief] and also to create a color contrast. The challenge is to work the cement before it hardens.
The works of Paul Bourdelle are officially called bas-reliefs, however, the technique employed by the artist more closely approaches sgrafitto, which consists of cutting, or incising, lines through the top layer of (moist) cement to reveal the contrasting color of the layer underneath. In this sense Bourdelle’s technique can be compared to that employed in creating a cameo. The English expression, cameo-relief is often used in reference to Bourdelle’s bas-reliefs.
1. Pierre BOURDELLE, Man and Angel, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. courtesy Jim Parsons and David Bush, Fair Park Deco)
2. Pierre BOURDELLE, Cougar and Bison, or Streamline, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. courtesy Jim Parsons and David Bush, Fair Park Deco)
3. Pierre BOURDELLE, Man and Eagle, or Locomotive Power, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. courtesy Jim Parsons and David Bush, Fair Park Deco)
4. Pierre BOURDELLE, Man and Horse, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. courtesy Jim Parsons and David Bush, Fair Park Deco)
5. Pierre BOURDELLE, Texas Youth, Dallas, Fair Park (destroyed) (ph. Dallas Historical Society Archives)
6. Pierre BOURDELLE, Pegasus, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. courtesy Jim Parsons and David Bush, Fair Park Deco)
7. Pierre BOURDELLE, Siren, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. courtesy Jim Parsons and David Bush, Fair Park Deco)
8. Pierre BOURDELLE, Shell, Dallas, Fair Park (ph. Anne-Laure Garrec)
Paris, 1901 – Geneva, Switzerland 1966
Pierre Bourdelle, son of the celebrated sculptor Émile-Antoine Bourdelle and the painter Stéphanie Van Parys, was born in Paris on April 21, 1901. Unlike many of his peers, he did not take classes at the School of Fine Arts in Paris (École des Beaux-Arts). The future artist learned techniques for sculpting in plaster, wood, and marble by working with his father, whose art and artistic thinking were influenced by Auguste Rodin. Far from wishing to make of his son a sculptor like himself, Antoine Bourdelle encouraged the young man to try working in other artistic mediums, such as stained glass or mosaic. If the elder Bourdelle took his son to Greece so that he could study ancient sculpture, he entrusted Rodin with the responsibility of introducing his son to Gothic architecture in Europe. Throughout his formative years, Pierre Bourdelle multiplied his experiences of the arts, and from these he developed his taste for art.
After the First World War, which Bourdelle would have joined when he was only fifteen by lying about his age, he traveled to Holland, Italy, and Africa in order to learn new artistic techniques. In Rotterdam the young artist learned batik, a printing-on-cloth technique traditionally practiced in Indonesia and Africa, while in Florence he discovered iron-working. These travels and contacts with other cultures would, in truth, develop his artistic inspiration. Moreover, he would hold in his memory a vivid impression of the plants and animals of Africa, which would find expression in many of his creations. Once Bourdelle returned to France, he undertook various commissions in order to ease his father’s financial burdens. In 1920, for example, he undertook an industrial-design commission before going to work with an iron-monger at Suresnes, a community in the western suburbs of Paris.
According to correspondence maintained at the Bourdelle Museum in Paris, Pierre Bourdelle served in the French armed forces from 1921 to 1923. He worked for a while in aviation; later he became part of the occupying army in the Ruhr, a region of Germany. During this period, Bourdelle corresponded a great deal with his father. One discerns in these letters a certain restlessness and an incapacity to adapt to the demands of authority. Many times he expresses the desire to visit the colonies, be they in the Indian ocean or the Pacific, be it India, Cambodia, or the New Hebrides (a group of islands in the South Pacific, which now forms the nation of Vanuatu), in order to be able to devote himself more freely to the study of nature and to writing. Other than his interest in art, Bourdelle had a passionate interest in zoology, literature, and notably, philosophical texts. It appears that he obtained a Master’s degree in philosophy from the Sorbonne during the 1920s.
It is probable that these diverse interests caused his indecision about a choice of profession. He envisioned himself as an artist, a writer, or even a journalist, but finally art won him over. Despite his admiration for his father, between 1927 and 1929 Pierre Bourdelle undertook a number of extended sojourns in the United States in order to escape from the burden of his artistic heritage. He completed various commissions in batik, but, on the whole, these early visits were difficult. The death of his father created a veritable rupture in the life and career of Pierre Bourdelle, so much so that at that time he took a chance on undertaking a career as an artist in America and made a definitive move to the United States. His new life was made official in 1934, when he became an American citizen.
Regarding his personal life, Bourdelle married a young American woman, Katharine Salisbury, in 1927. Unfortunately, the couple soon decided to divorce, for it had become evident that it was impossible for them to live together. According to various sources, the divorce took place during the year of Antoine Bourdelle’s death, or two years later in 1929, at Reno, Nevada. This failure did not prevent Bourdelle from marrying, in 1932, Barbara Barnes, from whom he separated in 1939.
After having settled in New York, Bourdelle progressively began to make a name for himself by creating decorative frescoes in various buildings, such as the Chanin Building in1930 and the Unitarian Church IV in Brooklyn in 1932. In 1931 he created a novelty by proposing the installation of sculpted and lacquer-painted linoleum panels in the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. In these panels Bourdelle chose to evoke undersea life; the panel titled Swimmer and Shark depicts a man in combat with a shark. In 1931 Bourdelle again used lacquer-painted linoleum panels to decorate the public rooms of the Union Terminal train station in Cincinnati. These interiors define American Art Deco, a result of the synthesis of Austro-German modernism with French Art Deco, popularized by the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925. The station’s exterior architecture presents a massive, pure aspect, close to the International style, while Bourdelle’s interior decorations are rich and shimmering. Here Bourdelle chose warm, vivid colors for representing the animals and vegetation of the jungle.
From 1931 onwards Bourdelle increasingly used lacquer-painted linoleum panels for the decoration of buildings. Linoleum is an impermeable material consisting of cloth made from jute that has been coated with linseed oil and powdered cork (1). In an interview from 1952 (2), Bourdelle explained that linoleum is a particularly resistant material. For example, it is not affected by extreme changes in temperature. Such a material represented, in his view, a formidable compromise: it permitted a reduction in the cost of fabrication and, at the same time, it optimized the physical resistance of the work of art.
On the occasion of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933, “The Century of Progress,” Bourdelle confirmed his desire to promote the quasi-organic relationship between edifice and décor. He executed, among others, some painted murals for the Science Building and some lacquered linoleum panels for the Dairy Building. He was also responsible for a fresco depicting the struggle between a panther and a serpent in the Administration Building. In 1935, on the recommendation of the architect Donald Nelson, with whom he had worked in Chicago, Bourdelle was recruited by George Dahl to participate in the artistic decoration for the Texas Centennial Exhibition in Dallas. Known as a painter as well as a sculptor, the artist was commissioned to decorate the Pavilion of Industry, known today as the Pavilion of the Automobile, with eight frescoes and four bas-reliefs. If Bourdelle was responsible for the total decorative scheme of the Pavilion of Industry, he had to share his responsibility for the decoration of the Centennial Building, situated on the opposite side of the Esplanade, with another artist. The eight painted murals in this building were executed by the Italian artist, Carlo Ciampaglia; the four cameo-reliefs representing land, air, rail, and maritime transportation are signed by the hand of Pierre Bourdelle. In 1938, Bourdelle again put to use his talents in integrating art and public buildings within the context of the New York World’s Fair. The Plaza of Nations, for example, was decorated with bas-reliefs of the products of the earth; Bourdelle’s contribution to the ornamentation of the exterior of the rotunda of one of the Food Pavilions was a vast, colored cement bas-relief representing Bacchantes reveling at a wine-harvest festival, mythological animals, and scenes of beverage-making in various cultures.
Along with his large artistic projects, Bourdelle continued to take on private and public commissions in the United States and abroad, as in Haiti. In 1934, he again executed some works in linoleum for Saint Anthony’s club in New York. The following year he created some frescoes on the theme of voodoo for the Hotel Sans Souci at Port-au-Prince. In 1937, the Commission for the Texas Centenary hired him to create two commemorative monuments that were installed respectively at San Jacinto and Laredo. In 1939, he sculpted, in collaboration with José Martin, five bas-reliefs on the theme of medicine for the Baylor Medical Alumni Library in Dallas. In the same year, twenty-six decorative, sculpted and lacquer-painted linoleum panels were affixed to the walls of the main dining hall of the transatlantic ocean liner, S.S. America.
During the Second World War, Bourdelle joined the allied forces and worked notably for the liberation of France. In 1941, he was sent to North Africa and later to Italy, where he served as a volunteer for a charity organization that delivered ambulance service at the front: the American Field Service. He later worked for the British army until the entry of the United States into the war in the month of December 1941. During his periods of rest, he devoted his time to transcribing on paper the cruel realities of war at the time of the siege of Tobrouk or during campaigns in Tunisia and Italy. Bourdelle created a total of fifty-two of these drawings, which were published in the United States in 1945 in a portfolio titled War. In 1946 the drawings were exhibited at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, Maryland.
After he returned to the United States, Pierre Bourdelle married Ruth Magor in 1946. From this union were born Stephanie Bourdelle in 1947 and Peter Anthony Bourdelle in 1948. The following year Bourdelle created a fresco titled Popocat[é]petl Asleep for the Hotel Prado in Mexico City. He also created numerous works in sculpted linoleum in trains belonging to the Budd Company in Philadelphia. Several bar fronts and steward’s podiums for the California Zephyr are decorated with panels representing fauna and flora. Panels of maps decorated the coffee shop and at least one steward’s podium, of which a photograph exists. Between 1952 and 1955 the artist will reiterate this experience by participating in the decoration of three other trains. Contrary to his work on the California Zephyr he drew inspiration from the American Indian culture in his decorations for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, the P.R.R. Senator and Congressional Train, and the Great Northern Railway.
From 1949 to 1950 Bourdelle lived for a time in Haiti with his entire family. During this brief sojourn, he worked within the context of Haiti’s Bicentennial Exposition in Port-au-Prince. He created numerous works, among which one must include some sculpted linoleum works representing flora and fauna for the entrance hall of the presidential palace, as well as bas-reliefs in colored cement representing the creation of the national flag on the Tower of Independence. This was the last time Pierre Bourdelle participated in a project for architectural decorations of such magnitude.
During the ten final years of his life, Pierre Bourdelle did not limit himself to sculpture. If in 1957 he created some bas-reliefs in metal for the Kohler Memorial Auditorium in Kohler, Wisconsin, however, in 1958 he renewed with the mosaic technique for Park Avenue Building, New York. He also continued his work in linoleum at the Priory of Saint Dominic in Washington, D.C. In 1961 the altar of the chapel was decorated with a relief that represented the life of the saint. At this time Bourdelle taught at C.W. Post College in Brookville, New York, where he was an artist-in-residence. Here, most notably, he created a work in bronze, Admiral Conolly’s Memorial, which was unveiled on December 16, 1962. In 1966, Bourdelle and his daughter Stephanie traveled to Geneva, Switzerland. They were joined shortly thereafter by Ruth and Peter Bourdelle. The artist needed to help Madame Marion Cartier-Claudel with a project involving a church window, however, Pierre Bourdelle died of a heart attack on June 5, 1966. Afterwards his ashes were dispersed at Oyster Bay, New York, U.S.A.
(1) This definition is taken from the Larousse Dictionary.
(2) Dorothy Grafly, “Pierre Bourdelle. Sculptor, painter, creative artist,” in American Artist, no.16, May 1952, pp. 42-46 & 54-57.
Fours, Nièvre, 1899 – Dallas, Texas, 1957
Raoul Josset was born in Fours, France on December 9, 1899. After his studies at the Janson de Sailly Lycée in Paris, he obtained a university degree in the history of art. He then decided to enroll in the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts in Paris), where he learned to sculpt under Jean-Antoine Injalbert. In 1917 Josset joined the French army and participated, most notably, in the battles of Chemin des Dames and Verdun. In the following year the young soldier was transferred to the American expeditionary force, for which he worked as an interpreter. From 1919 to 1921, Josset returned to the École des Beaux-Arts to pursue his apprenticeship in sculpture. In 1922 and 1923 he was awarded the first-place medal at the Salon des Artistes français (Exhibition of French Artists), and in 1923 he received the Prix de Rome, a scholarship to study at the French Art Academy in Rome. He later became the student of Émile-Antoine Bourdelle and of Henri Bouchard. In addition to his work with these two artists, Josset succeeded in sculpting fifteen monuments to the dead, among which is the statue of Christ on the cross of 1924 for the town of Jussy in the department of Aisne, Picardy. He also created statues and reliefs for churches and private homes in the areas in France that had been devastated by the war. Other works were exhibited at the Salon des Artistes français, at the Salon d’Automne (Autumn Exhibition), and at l’Exposition des Arts décoratifs (Exposition of the Decorative Arts), Paris, in 1925. Besides his activities as a sculptor, Josset wrote art criticism for the Paris magazine, La Peinture, from 1921 to 1924.
In 1926 Josset and his friend, the sculptor José Martin were invited to work at the Northwestern Terracotta Company in Chicago by an American named Mr. Lucas. The recruiter wanted to import the methods and style of French Art Deco to his company in order to incorporate a new creative dynamic. Unlike José Martin, Josset left Cherbourg on the liner S.S. Olympic on March 14, 1927. Once he had arrived on American soil, he settled in Chicago. Here he built a reputation by creating decorations for various buildings in the city, such as the Palmolive and Carbide & Carbon Buildings. At the beginning of 1931, Josset found employment in Cleveland, as had his friend, José Martin, however, in October the company went under, and he was forced to return to Chicago. In May 1932, Josset acquired a vast space on the first floor of the America-Fore Building on Rush Street, where he set up a studio and opened a sculpture school. The school welcomed students for seven years. Besides his activities as artist and teacher, Josset frequently presented lectures at art clubs and at the Art Institute of Chicago between 1929 and 1936.
In 1933 Josset received commissions for Chicago World’s Fair through his friendship with Donald Nelson, one of the architects for the project. During the early months of 1933, he and José Martin worked together on these commissions. In Josset’s studio they created a statue representing American executive power for the Federal Exhibit Building, as well as four bas-reliefs representing the Departments of State, Treasury, Army, and Navy for the fountain in the rotunda. Josset then traveled to France to visit his mother. He definitively left his native country aboard the S.S. Paris on October 11, 1933, and on September 27, 1934, he became an American citizen. That same year the Bennett, Parsons, and Frost Company commissioned him to create granite sculptures of the American Indian chief, Tecumseh, and his brother, Tenkswatawa, for the Lincoln Memorial Bridge in Vincennes, Indiana. The two statues were unveiled by President Franklin Roosevelt in June 1936.
In 1935 Josset participated in the creation of a commemorative monument in Chicago’s Marquette Park. The monument was dedicated to two Lithuanian-American aviators, Captain Steven Darius and Lieutenant Stanley Girenas, who were killed when their plane crashed in Germany after a successful transatlantic flight in 1933. That same year (1935) Josset was hired by George Dahl to take part in the decoration of Fair Park in Dallas. He and José Martin had been recommended by their friend, Donald Nelson. They arrived in Dallas in February 1936. Josset and Lawrence Tenney Stevens were charged with the creation of six monumental sculptures representing the six state authorities that successively governed Texas until its definitive integration into the United States. Josset, assisted by Martin, created statues representing France, Mexico, and the United States, while Stevens sculpted those representing Texas, Spain, and the Confederation. Martin and Josset also created the American Eagle, which decorates the summit of the Tower Building and the statue Spirit of the Centennial, located today in front of the Women’s Museum. This latter statue is of a female nude sitting on a cactus. Josset chose Georgia Carroll, a Dallas teenager, to serve as the female model from the neck up (see essay on Fair Park) for the statue. Georgia Carroll, 1919-2011, later became a famous American fashion model, actress, and singer.
After having completed his commissions at Fair Park, Josset remained in Dallas for two more years. This was, for him, a period of intense artistic creativity. He sculpted numerous works commemorating major historical figures and events. At Gonzales, Josset signed a bronze bas-relief that paid homage to thirty-two men who died in the battle at the Alamo. He also participated in the creation of two monuments near La Grange and at Refugio that commemorated respectively the Mier expedition of 1842 against Mexico and the death of Captain Amon B. King and his men in the Texas revolution of 1836. In addition, an effigy statue of René Robert Cavelier de La Salle was erected in the national park at Indianola in 1938. That same year, in collaboration with Donald Nelson and José Martin, he created the statue Pioneer Woman for the fiftieth anniversary of the Texas Fair. In the spring Josset was in New York, where he was to participate in the decoration for the 1939 New York World’s Fair: for this occasion he created the statue Excelsior, destined to stand in front of the New York State Building.
After his divorce from Lucille Rocky in the 1930s, Josset married Mary Elizabeth Armstrong in 1939. Unfortunately they separated a year later in Chicago. Josset was again alone and, moreover, troubled about finding work. He therefore decided to join the Federal Art Project, which was started by President Franklin Roosevelt for the support of artists during the Great Depression. In a public competition in Philadelphia Josset won a commission for a statue of General Marquis de Lafayette, which stands today on the Esplanade of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 1940 the artist participated in an international exhibition of sculpture. From 1943 to 1944, Josset resumed his teaching of sculpture at the Cooper Union School in New York.
In April 1948 Josset left New York in order to settle in Dallas. For six months he lived with José Martin and his wife. He used his friend’s studio on Exhibition Street for the execution of two large bas-reliefs that were to decorate the Masonic Lodge at Waco. Located on both sides of the main entrance, these works illustrate the construction of the temple of Salomon. The beginning of the 1950s marked both a marital failure and the artist’s return to favor. Despite his two previous divorces, Josset married, for a third time, one of his Rumanian students, Catherine Marco, who left him in less than a year. In 1950, the Dallas Museum of Art exhibited the Discus Thrower, completed the previous year for the third international exhibition of sculpture in Philadelphia. In 1951 Josset acquired his own studio on Fairmont Street in Dallas. Two years later he experienced one of the most beautiful moments of his career, when he became a member of the National Academy of Design. Between 1953 and 1954 he carved a marble statue of St. Francis of Assisi for a Mr. and Mrs. Muth of Dallas. He completed a second version of this work for Mrs. Miriam Green. Always eager to share his love of art, Josset presented numerous lectures to the French Club of Dallas until 1955. From that year forward, however, Josset’s health began a downward spiral, and consequently his career began to decline. Even though Mrs. Miriam Green continued her patronage, the artist received few commissions. In 1957, Josset completed the plaster model for a statue of Sam Houston for the Masonic Temple at Waco. Unfortunately he did not have the time to cast his model in bronze, for he died of cirrhosis of the liver on June 29, 1957, in Dallas.
JOSEPH CAMILLE MARTIN, known as JOSÉ MARTIN
Miéry, Jura, 1891 – Dallas, Texas, 1985
Joseph Camille Martin was born on April 27, 1891, at Miéry, a village in the Jura district of France. When he was 11 years old, he left school in order to work in his father’s studio. He and his brother, Jean, learned to fabricate furniture and to sculpt in wood while working alongside their father. In 1910 Martin joined an army orchestra as a saxophonist, doubtlessly in order to fulfill his military service. Two years later, the young Martin decided to move to Paris to study at the School of Fine Arts (Ecole des Beaux-Arts) and thus to realize his dream of becoming an artist. Unfortunately his studies were interrupted by the First World War, in which he engaged as a volunteer. Four-times wounded, the young soldier was decorated with the Verdun Medal [Médaille de Verdun] and the War Cross [Croix de Guerre], French military decorations. Despite the war, he marries in 1916, Jeanne, with whom he would have two children: Jean-Pierre (born 1920) and André (born 1924).
At the end of the war José Martin returned to his studies at the School of Fine Arts. It was difficult, however, for the former combatant to lead the life of both husband and art student, and therefore, in 1919, he chose to leave the School of Fine Arts. The young, budding artist found his first employment as a designer in the Company of French Arts [Compagnie des Arts français], founded by Louis Süe and André Mare in the faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. Both men were leaders in the Art Deco style before the International Exposition of 1925 in Paris. Martin’s employment did not prevent him from taking on other projects. Notably, the artist assisted the sculptor Antoine Sartorio in the execution of pediments for the Opera House at Marseille and of exterior décor for the Palace of the Mediterranean [Palais de la Méditerranée] at Nice. He also assisted in the creation of the Alvear monument for the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The sculptor, moreover, created by his own hand a monument to the dead at Danjoutin (Territoire de Belfort), as well as a work dedicated to Louis Pasteur in the village of Arbois (Jura).
From the middle of the 1920s commissions became scarce in France. José Martin, therefore, experienced more and more difficulties in making a living as an artist. In 1926 an American businessman, a Mr. Lucas, travelled to France to recruit artists for work at the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company in Chicago. Martin applied for work with the company, but after having been hired, he chose to withdraw his application. His friend, Raoul Josset, whom he met in 1920, was also hired by the firm. Josset left for the United States on March 14, 1927, and Martin finally joined him in October 1928 because, according to Josset, a place had been saved for him at the company. Sadly, once Martin arrived in Chicago he was refused his position. The employees at the Terra Cotta Company had recently formed a syndicate, and they wanted preference to be given to American artists on account of the heavy unemployment in their country. Only two choices were left for Martin: stay in United States or return to France. Against the advice of Raoul Josset, the artist decided to take his chances on American soil.
José Martin’s wife and their two children joined him in Chicago in 1929. Toward the end of that year, Martin found work in a company in Milwaukee that specialized in plaster decoration. In 1931 Martin was employed by the Cowan Pottery Company in Cleveland, where he met up again with his friend Raoul Josset. Martin’s family joined him in Cleveland some time later, however, the pottery company was unfortunately forced to close after the stock market crash in 1929. Raoul Josset returned to Chicago, but Martin stayed in Cleveland until the end of the year. In 1930 the artist received an offer of employment from the company he had worked for in Milwaukee, however, he was obliged to move to New York, where he had been engaged to work on ceiling decorations at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. In 1932, the artist was forced to leave this project because the employees’ syndicate complained that a foreign artist was being employed at the expense of hiring an American one. Nevertheless, Martin decided to remain in New York. It took him three months to find a job fabricating mannequins. This work did not suffice in meeting the needs of his family, so at the end of the year, Martin returned to Chicago where the international exposition, “A Century of Progress,” was about to take place.
Raoul Josset’s friendship with the architect Donald Nelson led to his being commissioned to execute a group of sculptures for the Chicago exposition. Again, Josset invited his friend, José Martin, to work with him on this project. Notably, the two men created a statue representing American Executive Power for the Federal Building and four bas-reliefs representing the Departments of State, Treasury, Army, and Navy to decorate the fountain in the rotunda. In 1934, the two artists created a statue of the American Indian Chief, Tecumseh, and of his brother, Tenkswatawa, for the Lincoln Bridge in Vincennes, Indiana. Two years later Donald Nelson recommended Josset and Martin to the architect George Dahl for work on ornamentation for the exposition that would celebrate the centennial anniversary of Texas’s independence from Mexico at Fair Park in Dallas. Martin assisted Josset in the creation of three Art Deco statues representing France, Mexico, and the United States. Martin also participated in the creation of the statue, Spirit of the Centennial, situated today in front of the former Women’s Museum, and in the creation of the bas-relief, American Eagle, on the summit of the tower of the Federal Building. In collaboration with Josset and Donald Nelson, he created the statue, Pioneer Woman.
After participating in the large project at Fair Park, José Martin settled in Dallas, where he officially became an American citizen on June 30, 1937. There the artist fulfilled many public and private commissions destined to decorate various parts of his adopted city. In 1938 he created two statues of females that now flank the stage of the Lakewood Theater. He and his friend Josset collaborated in the creation of a statue of a woman and a child for the garden of the Texan Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children. In 1941 Martin carved two stone bas-reliefs representing a teacher with students to decorate the entrance of the Margaret B. Henderson Elementary School in the Oak Cliff neighborhood. In the same year he carved five stone bas-reliefs, after designs by Pierre Bourdelle, for the Baylor Medical Alumni Library. In 1942 Martin participated in World War II by settling in Seattle to work as a designer of combat airplanes within North American Aviation.
After the war, José Martin returned to Dallas, where, on February 22, 1947, he entered a second marriage, this time to a woman named Lucille Meith. At this point in his career, Martin benefitted from his local reputation, which guaranteed him a stable, professional situation. Moreover, since 1946 he had been a member of the new association of Texas artists. At the beginning of his sixties he received commissions from various sources, while still occasionally assisting his friend Raoul Josset, who was in fragile health. In 1947 Martin created a monument to the dead for the Restland Cemetery. Two years later he decorated the pediment over the entrance to the University Park Methodist Church with a bas-relief of Christ. In 1950, Martin renewed his association with the world of hospitals: he executed in bronze a bust of Dr. George Truett, which today is on view in the large entrance hall of Baylor Hospital. In 1957 he came to the aid of Raoul Josset, who was experiencing difficulties in his realization of the plaster model for a statue of Sam Houston, destined for the Masonic Lodge in Waco. The artist is reputed to have created works for the Baker Hotel and various restaurants in Dallas, however, at this point no documents have come to light to support this hypothesis. Be that as it may, José Martin continued to work as a sculptor until the end of his life. He died in Dallas in 1985, at the age of 94.
Research and text by Anne-Laure GARREC, École du Louvre intern, July-September 2011.
Graciously translated by Gina GRANGER, Detroit, July 2013.