NARRATOR: Throughout his career as a sculptor, Gaston Lachaise dedicated himself to the exploration of the female form. His model was his adored wife, Isabel Dutaud Nagle. His renderings of her often reflected fantasy more than reality. In his later work, Isabel took on increasingly ample proportions—despite the fact that she weighed only about 110 pounds.
During Lachaise’s lifetime, the public was scandalized by his bold expressions of sexuality. Many of his more erotic sculptures were considered inappropriate for public exhibition. More recently, feminists have critiqued Lachaise for treating women as sex objects. But artist Louise Bourgeois, who drew inspiration from Lachaise’s work, defended him. “Lachaise did not exploit women but enjoyed them,” she wrote. “It is a compliment to grant the sex object such power that it can trigger such passion.”