José de Creeft
Voyage to Africa, 1927
26 x 5 x 5
Signed and dated
Born in Guadalajara, Spain, José de Creeft moved to Barcelona as a young child. He apprenticed as a wood carver and at a bronze foundry where he learned the basic fundamentals of sculpting, from modeling, casting, and carving. In 1905, he arrived in Paris and met the sculptor Auguste Rodin who encouraged him to attend the Académie Julian. He then opened a studio in the Montemarte neighborhood of Paris in a building shared by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, and Georges Braques. While Cubism had not yet emerged, these artists engaged de Creeft on radical aesthetic ideas that rejected academicism.
Voyage to Africa was completed in 1927 and evokes the expressive and aesthetic possibilities of Cubism and direct carving. Art deco motifs, geometric forms, and a stylized African mask adorn the surface of the stone, echoing progressive architectural and design elements. De Creeft began experimenting with motifs of primitive and Cubist origins around 1915 when many other Western artists were appropriating the minimalist aesthetic of African and pre-Columbian arts.