The River by Aristide Maillol

The River by Aristide Maillol
The River by Aristide Maillol

This work by the French sculptorAristide Maillolis a true exception along his career. Since his women are always stable and with few movements, such as La Mediterránea, however, here it has become the complete opposite.


The River by Aristide Maillol

The work was done between 1938 and 1943, and that dating is very important. Since the figure initially arose as part of a monumental commission to be erected in honor of a pacifist writer, Henri Barbusse. And the approach was to represent a woman wounded in the back and fallen in combat. However, the assignment never came to fruition, and soMailloldecided to modify the initial idea for him.

Then the approach of this allegory arose: the River. A sculpture made of lead that today is exhibited at the MoMA in New York. And that both the figure and the peculiar plinth that gives it its instability like a pool of water are part of the whole.

Maillol always said that in his opinion, a sculpture should have as little movement as possible. Something that made him face many of the aesthetic currents of his time. And yet in this work everything is dynamism. In fact, the woman becomes a personification of the water of the river, which is always synonymous with becoming and movement.

We see the naked figure and shapesforceful, as is so usual in the women created by this artist. But unlike the harmony and stillness that identifies him, here he presents us with the opposite.

He leans on a small plinth, on his side, and seems to wriggle to keep from falling. It is an instability of great audacity. She bends her legs, raises her arms and her head seems to collapse into the water, in fact, her hair gets wet. She tries to avoid being carried away by the waters, it is in some way a representation of someone who does not want to get carried away by the current. Which can give us another interpretation, since Maillol, although he was a successful and recognized artist, with his figurative sculpture and with obvious memories of the most classic art, which made him a character who went against the current, at a time of the avant-garde where abstraction and forms of the future predominated.

In short, this is a very interesting work, because it is something different in Maillol's career, because of the combination of elements as part of the work of art, and also because of the ups and downs and interpretations to which we can give foot.

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