Bañista (Bather)

Mateo Hernández

Béjar, Salamanca, Spain, 1884 - Meudon, France, 1949
  • Date: 
  • Material: 
    Coral granite from Finland
  • Technique: 
    Direct carving and polishing
  • Dimensions: 
    187 x 54 x 63 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Observations: 
    Entry date: 1988 (from the redistribution of the Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo [MEAC] collection)
  • Register number: 
  • Bequest of Mateo Hernández, 1957

Mateo Hernández‘s sculpture was based on the technique of direct carving and emphatic realism, connected to two of the principal trends of the inter-war period: Art Déco and the New Objectivity. The artist was resident in Paris from 1913, but kept away from the avant-garde circles, and opposed academic art teaching in favour of defending primitive folk art, which he saw as a “direct expression of life.” This way of thinking produced a body of work that focused mainly on animal sculpture and portraits. Bañista (Bather, 1925), is a life-size figure carved directly in pink marble of a contemporary woman dressed in a modern swimsuit, her face representing that of his partner Fernande Carton, in a cold, hieratic sculpture akin to ancient Greek sculpture. Jean Cassou defined Mateo Hernández’s sculpture as realist art, “which is fully aware of its dignity, its nobility, in which the artist’s soul shows through, in a style that brings an aristocracy to the forms, illuminating all the physiognomies with an inner light, art that copies no master and in which the artist’s only ambition is to get as close to life as possible.”

Carmen Fernández Aparicio