Self-Portrait in the Studio on the Boulevard des Batignolles, post 1901
|Born||21 June 1858|
|Died||31 March 1928 (aged 68)|
|Nationality||Italian, French (naturalized 1902)|
|Known for||Sculpture, Photography|
Medardo Rosso (Italian:
Rosso was born in Turin, where his father worked as a railway station inspector, and the family moved to
(He) rebelled at each school, with each method, with each Academy, abhoring anything that smacked of trade, of artifice, soon found himself alone, without support, without master, without counselors, and with a bunch of captive and envious colleagues who tripped him, when he tried his way and to demonstrate his abilities, his ingenuity. But the Biblical saying "Go alone!" did not frighten him, even in those long daily vigils struggling with a whole system which for many years had triumphed, despite the strong supporters of this and that opponent, he felt his strength increase, developed his talent, he conceived a vast new artistic horizon never before seen, and began to work and hold it to the test.
Starting in 1881 in Milan, Rosso began producing bronze busts and figures that reflected largely
Rosso relocated to Paris in 1889, where he would live and work until after World War I. While in Paris, he met and impressed a number of influential personalities, including writer
As a sculptor, one of Rosso's principal concerns was to subject the physical mass of sculpture to the transient and ephemeral effects of light. So by means of rough, spontaneous modeling that he would then cast in bronze, plaster, or wax. Rosso maintained a studio in Paris in which he created his own foundry, at a time when most sculptors sent their molds away to professional foundries to be cast. This freedom afforded Rosso the opportunity to manipulate the surfaces of his works in highly unorthodox ways, often retaining what others would have regarded as "casting errors" and elected not to clean away the plaster investment that would be left upon a bronze work after casting. To Rosso, these interventions were designed to create visual or optical effects that by which the materiality of sculpture, as central as it was to his practice, was subordinate the impression of the viewer:
Light being of the very essence of our existence, a work of art that is not concerned with light has no right to exist. Without light it must lack unity and spaciousness — it is bound to be small, paltry, wrongly conceived, based necessarily upon matter.... A work of sculpture is not made to be touched, but to be seen at such or such a distance, according to the effect intended by the artist. Our hand does not permit us to bring to our consciousness the values, the bones, the colours—in a word, the life of the thing. For seizing the inner significance of a work of art, we should rely entirely on the visual impression and on the sympathetic echoes it awakens in our memory and consciousness, and not on the touch of our fingers.
Rosso maintained his studio in Paris, where he exhibited his sculptures and sold works to major collectors and museums. He established a friendship with