Kat Murrell

“Standing Woman” a de facto football fan?

By - Feb 5th, 2011 01:08 am
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After years of art-historical detective work, Milwaukee Art Museum curators have found and restored the original hat for Lachaise’s “Standing Woman.” Or maybe it’s just arty Superbowl hi-jinks. We’ll read Kat’s story and get back to you.

The Super Bowl is upon us and everyone is getting hyper with the hoopla — even the Milwaukee Art Museum has gotten into it. There’s a friendly wager between MAM (apparently adopted by the city of Green Bay) and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh that the winning team’s art museum will get a long-term loan from the losing team’s museum. It’s a charming bet, and very sporting.

But late this week, Packermania at MAM reached both a fever pitch and a new low as the monumental Standing Woman by Lachaise has been unceremoniously decked out with a cheesehead hat.

This figure been the brunt of crude public gestures before, most notably during the notorious Martinifest when drinks were spilled and her bronze body groped. It was a major diss against this sculpture of an overtly powerful female, and there was a firm and sober reaction from the Museum.

So why is this same sculpture now sporting a cheap hat like an oversized dress-up doll? Is she only a figure of parody?

Standing Woman, which exists in copies in international museums and is sometimes titled Heroic Woman, has now been relocated near MAM’s entrance, and literally positioned like a sideshow.

Really, this begs the question about why this sculpture is such an easy target. Lachaise’s figures on the order of Standing Woman are big and unapologetic. Their bodies are large, voluptuous, sensual, and powerful. The figure stands proudly and is much larger than the average puny museum goer. Bosoms? Got a problem with them? Too bad.

It seems we can’t handle a woman, even a representation of a woman, in all this glory. So she’s taken down a notch with a silly hat.

Well, what the hell. How about a lampshade on her head for the next MAM After Dark? There are plenty of holidays in the year, let’s make it museum-wide. Giacometti’s Large Seated Woman could sport bunny ears for Easter. But boy, did we miss a chance to stick a tutu on Rodin’s Walking Man during the Degas sculpture show.

If a sporting analogy is really in order, then Standing Woman seems less like a football emblem than a punching bag.

Categories: Art, Sports

0 thoughts on ““Standing Woman” a de facto football fan?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why on earth would anyone put a cheesehat on her?
    Because the Packer helmet didn’t fit.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Kat, for an intelligent response to this curious choice. I posted a photo of this on facebook and found that friends who are artists tend to react with dismay or worse – one said she was “horrified” – while others treat it more matter of factly.

    Is there a bias against this particular sculpture on the part of whomever at the museum chose to put the cheesehead there? I doubt it. I suspect it’s because of the sculpture’s prominent location near the entrance. Your comment about that, it being a sideshow, is more possibly more trenchant. Why was she moved there, I’d like to know?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Judith wants to know whose big bad dumb idea this is?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Milwaukee just hit another low.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am the Curator of the Lachaise Foundation and so asked Mrs Marie Charles, who is the artist’s great niece, about how she felt. She enjoyed the attention it gave the work, saying it reminds her of when they (“they”) dressed up the Standing Woman at UCLA in a hat and scarf. I too looked at the Milwaukee image with a sense of positive camraderie. The Lachaise Foundation has been involved in so many things involving negative energy, that this show of pure, harmless American support warmed, indeed, tickled me.
    I deal with this particular work on a serious level almost every
    day. Recently she was the subject of a documentary film by George
    Stoney entitled Flesh in Ecstasy; before that I was working to place her in the public Tuileries Gardens in Paris. Next month our cast of her will go on view in an exhibition at the Thyssen in Madrid called Heroines.
    I myself find the act to have been in fine taste. There was nothing that was damaging to the sculpture or patina. Truly the love story between Gaston and his muse, model and wife, Isabel, is a far cry from the sillyness of being a “Cheesehead.” Yet, this image represents a rallying that is all inclusive, and far-reaching (look, it says, even the Lachaise monumental nude from 1932 is behind the Packers), serious in it’s own right, and essentially human. I feel that both concepts can co-exist without one belittling the other–the serious love story of a committed modern artist, earnestly trying to make his best work, make a living and keep his wife clothed (albeit in furs) and the general public of the 21st century who are just for a while thinking of chips and dip and their team winning the superbowl. Hurray for the packers! They had a most elegant woman cheering them on, albeit in the buff.

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