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François-Rupert Carabin

François-Rupert Carabin, perhaps the most brilliant sculptor in wood of the Art Nouveau era, was also an accomplished photographer, medal-maker, and designer of ceramics. Carabin’s work exemplified the Pantheist spirit in Art Nouveau, a movement that emphasized a return to unconventional, realistic depictions of nature, often conveying a sense of awe and fear. His sculpted furniture was often composed of conjoined bodies of animals, often cats, snakes, owls, and other “creatures of the night,” as well as female nudes, often clinging to the objects in support. His work was based not on utility, but was a celebration of natural bodily forms, and edged towards the dangerous and threatening psyche of the spirit. Carabin gained fame in 1890 when Gustave Geffroy published an article in Revue des arts décoratifs, highlighting a bookcase by Carabin created in 1889. For Geffroy, Carabin’s bookcase represented a new way of looking at sculpture and furniture, which rejected the traditional definitions and classifications of art. Many examples of Carabin’s works can be found in various museums, including the Musee d’Orsay, the Musée d’Art Moderne de Strasbourg, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

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