Elie Nadelman, American, Ideal Head, ca. 1910-1911, Marble; Height: 45.7 cm (18 inches), Gift of Mrs. Gustav Radeke 20.310
Ideal Head is an interpretation of classical form that reflects Nadelmen’s admiration for ancient sculpture. Its faint smile, downcast eyes, angled neck and smooth, generalized features relate it to a Greek head he had studied at the Louvre. The artist has enhanced the archaic appearance of his subject’s coiffure by representing it as an incised, schematic braid.
Nadelman counted among his early patrons the French critic Thadee Natanson, collectors Leo and Gertrude Stein, and most significantly, the cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubenstein. When he exhibited his work in New York at the 1913 Armory Show and at Alfred Stieglitz’s Photo-Seccession Gallery, he also attracted the attention of RISD president, Eliza Radeke, who purchased this sculpture and became one of Nadelman’s first supporters in America.