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Currently shown
Boleslas Biegas

Richard Wagner

Artist

Boleslas Biegas
Koziczyn, Poland, 1877 – Paris 1954

Title

Richard Wagner

Date

1904

Materials

Bronze

Dimensions

73.5 x 36.5 x 17 cm

Credits

Purchase, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' Volunteer Association Fund, inv. 2010.25

Collection

Western Art

Born in a Poland partitioned between Austria, Prussia and Russia, the son of a musician showed a precocious gift for sculpture. Biegas left his oppressed country to join his compatriots in exile in Paris. He soon became one of the inner circle of artists supported by Apollinaire, Marinetti and Verhaeren. Already both a musician and a sculptor, he became a playwright and a painter. He organized notable musical evenings in a salon open to all disciplines in the Wagnerian spirit of a synthesis of the arts. Like the Nordic bard Ossian, Wagner, who took his operas from Germanic legends, is depicted playing the harp, with his well-known face, bent head and sinewy fingers. He is lost in thought, listening to his inner voice. As potent as a primitive monolith, his totemic figure rears up with the godlike power of a “superman.” He is at one with his instrument, which, in contrast, expresses in its supple curves the melodic anguish of his inspiration. Although this Symbolist sculpture is clearly influenced by Art Nouveau, it remains nonetheless a striking example of Biegas’s wonderfully original art.

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