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Gaudier-Brzeska made many sculptures and drawings of animals. In 1914 he carved a group of monkeys in sandstone. The work shown here is a cast of this in artificial stone. Gaudier drew widely from a variety of sources, including the art of Polynesia and Africa. Like his fellow sculptor Epstein, he greatly admired Brancusi, whose purity of form, use of ovals and simplified depiction of features seem to have influenced this piece. Gaudier's interest in animals was shared by a number of early modern artists, who turned away from human subjects in search of something purer, more innocent and more elemental.

September 2004