LACMA Buys Bronze by Groundbreaking Woman Sculptor
|Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, La Petite Danseuse (The Little Dancer), about 1902. LACMA
LACMA has been augmenting its small holding of works by African American artists of the early 20th century. The latest addition is a c. 1902 bronze, The Little Dancer, by Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, whose career spanned fin-de-siècle Paris and the Harlem Renaissance. A more girlishly dynamic take on Degas' famous theme, it shows the influence of Rodin. Dealer Allan Chinn sold it to the museum.
Born in Philadelphia to an affluent Black family, Meta Vaux Warrick (1877-1968) made her reputation in Paris. There she met Henry Ossawa Tanner (who got her an apartment), Rodin (who praised her work), and W.E.B. DuBois (who encouraged her to take up Black subjects). Warrick moved back to America and married Dr. Solomon Fuller, said to be America's first Black psychiatrist. In her long career Warrick created portraits of accomplished women ranging from Phyllis Wheatley to Amelia Earhart. She was also a stage actor and playwright.
The Little Dancer was made in Paris. Most of the work from that period was lost in a 1910 fire at the artist's American studio. Warrick's art has been featured in books and group shows, but she is hardly to be seen in museum collections. New York's Schomburg Center has her Ethiopia Awakening, and the Danforth Museum, Framingham, Mass., has a large group of works from her studio. LACMA appears to be the first major art museum with a sculpture by the artist.
PBS did an American Masters segment on Warrick, with commentary by Alison Saar.