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collections > permanent collection > sculpture > jose de creeft
José de Creeft
(American, b. Spain, 1884-1982)
Sueño, 1973
Gray steatite, 10” x 14 ¾” x 7 ¾”
Gift of the Frank and Margaret Sullivan Fund (75.003)

José de Creeft helped to revive the tradition of direct carving in wood and stone.  In stone pieces such as Sueño, de Creeft deliberately left some surfaces unpolished, with the marks of the chisel still present.  In this way, he emphasized the “honesty” of both his material and his workmanship.  This sense of faithfulness to his craft was a response to the prevalence of bronze casting, a sculptural process that involved a number of intermediary steps between the artist’s original clay model and the finished bronze, which was produced by specialized workers at a foundry.  The subject of Sueño (Spanish for “dream”) is a young woman, a favorite theme in de Creeft’s work.

De Creeft was born in Guadalajara, Spain, in 1884.  He had varied training in sculpture and drawing, including a stint at a bronze foundry in Barcelona.  By 1905, he had moved to Paris, where he completed his studies at the Académie Julian.  Settling in Paris, de Creeft made sculpture and worked as a stonecutter.  He made his first direct- carved work around 1915, becoming one of the earliest to advance this method in avant-garde art circles.  Moving to New York City in 1929, de Creeft remained in the United States for the balance of his career, teaching and working on a number of large public commissions, including the well-known statue of Alice in Wonderland in New York’s Central Park.  Active well into his nineties, de Creeft was nearly 100 when he died in 1982.