The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn, New York on March 22, 1925 · Page 101
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The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn, New York · Page 101

Brooklyn, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 22, 1925
Page 101
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Page Five s The Amazing Serge Yourievitch Ude 0V yourievitch f 1 f f V&: C " " ' 17"""ai W"''''' ' f V, v . Yourievitch scratched around lit dust covered desk and brought out a letter written by Rodin thanking Gentleman Farmer in Russia, Scientist in France, Diplomat in Russian Imperial Foreign Service, Painter, Etcher and Sculptor I tone Faj-alicq him for what he had done. "After the war began Rodin asked me to collaborate with him oa a great statue which was to symbolize 'Humanity in Distress.' "When it brcame evident that Russia was going to pieces I got ready to go back to try to save my property which was near Saratoff. Rodin tried to get me not t go. "'One good statue is worth more than all your property,' he said. But I told him that I was thinking of my children. I place a high value on my scuplture, but I had more confidence in my property being worth something to my children. "I went back to Russia. Rodin died in 1917. I lost all my property to the Bolsheviks. My wife was almost killed by them. And now my children have to depend on my sculpture, anyway. "My wife, by the way, was "a Montenegrin, a cousin of Queen Helena of Italy. She was a most beautiful woman." Yourievitch looked very old when he said it. For his wife, too, 13 dead now and he has only the children. Then he looked up briskly, brushed the plaster from his hands and began talking of his work. "I make these busts. I have just finished that of Thomas Hardy, and as soon as I can I am going to London to do one of the Duchess of Atholl, one of the women memrs of the House of Commons, a very clever and intelligent woman. I should be there now, but my children have had the grippe. "But what I want to do is The Comedie Humaine, all the great movements to which we are subject." He pointed to the huge figure of the drowsy, pregnant woman. "That I call 'Gestation.' You see how it is. All of the life of the woman is concentrated on one thing, the creation of her child. Her face is nearly expressionless. Her hands droop. She scarcely thinks any more. You remember that was at the top of the grand staircase at the Salon a few years ago. I want to express all the great movements death, birth. You see up there on the shelf a series of masks Mockery, Guile and several others. I Intend to group them all in one great work." "You will have to live longer than you have already lived to do t!-t," I said. He smiled and brushed that difficult awty with a movement of his hand. "I intend to group the masks Pity, Mockery and the others around the big head of Beethoven you see up there. It isn't impossible. I have been doing sculpture steadily only since 1918, and I have already more than two hundred finished works. "I was almost an old man when I began," he said with a modest sort of pride. "But I am not doing so badly. Two of my works are in the Luxembourg. The Museum of the City of Paris has another, the first work they ver took from a foreigner." He said nothing to explain it. But there was in his buttonhole a red rosette, the insignia of a Commander of the Legion of Honor, a grade not often awarded to foreigners. Yourievitch began his new life work in plaster and bronze at an age when most men are through. But then he Is a Russian. And Russians, it seems, are not subject to the limitations tiat cramp the rest of us. If they were they couldn't speak Russian. Except that he doesn't yell quite as loud or shake hands like a human nut-cracker he might be almost anybody at a Rotary Club lunch at the Bossert or wherever .they have them now. . Said Yourievitch: "I was trained for diplonacy at the Lycee Alexander in Petrograd, a school founded by the Czar in 1812' and to which no one was admitted who did not come from a family whose nobility dated back to before 1600. Most of the men with big names in the old Imperial government were graduates of that school But I was more interested in science than in diplomacy and at seventeen had written several monographs on the effect of various kinds of warmth on seeds. "I was sent to Paris In 1895 to the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politique, and was later made an attache at the Russian Embassy. I spent much time and made many acquaintances In London, became Interested in the English attempt to stop the white slave traffic. And on one of my trips to Petrograd 1 interested the Czar in the subject and he founded an anti-white slave movement in Russia." Yourievitch found a rusty shovel and pitched a shovel of dusty coal into the stove. "I wrote a book in England called "The Evolution or the English Woman.' In 1900 I founded here in Paris the Institut Generale Psychologique for the study of modern psychological problems. Henri Poincare, the mathematician, father of the present Poincare, was a member. So was William James, the American psychologist; Pierre Curie, whom all Americans know, was another. So was Bergson. "I had little or nothing to do with art until my health broke down in 1903. I had been doing all the organizing and secretarial work of the Institut and the strain was too heavy. I went to Switzerland and began to paint as a relaxation. I worked in oil, water color, pastel and etching and made some success at exhibitions. "I got a studio in Rome. And one day while I was trying to master the anatomy of a foot for a painting, I decided to make it .first in clay. The impression I received on having the thing round and solid in my hand instead of flat on a canvas was so strong that I wondered why I had done no sculpture before. I immediately took up sculpture, and on coming back to Paris I got a studio in the Hotel Biron upstairs over Rodin. The building is now the Rodin Museum. "You know the place. It is an old mansion set back in a garden and is so perfect that it is often called (he little Parthenon. "Real estate speculators began a campaign to try to get the place to tear down the house and break the garden up. I felt so keenly about it that I went to all my friends, Henry White, who was then American Ambassador; Aristide Briand, who was then only a member of the Chamber of Deputies; Paul Doumer, who has been in the Cabinet several times, and M. De Selves, who Is now President of the Senate. We managed to have the government buy the building to save it from destruction." By Guy Hickolc PARIS. GENTLEMAN farmer in Russia, scientist in France, for many years a diplomat in the Russian Imperial Foreign Service, friend and pupif of Rodin, painter, etcher, sculptor, these are only a few of the things that Serge Yourievitch has been and done. This is no story of Russian refugee nobility earning its living checking hats at a restaurant, of an ex-Czarist general dancing a sword dance for his dinner. It is true that the little gray man who talked to me In a huge dusty studio filled with a small mountain of plaster and bronze statues lost all his property because of the Bolshevik revolution. But that fact and all that goes with it seems to have figured very little in his des-tiny His career has been packed so full, he has been so bus, that the Russian catastrophe scarcely broke in on his attention. A face of Beethoven four feet high glowered down on us from a high balcony, the dancer Natova in gilded plaster pirouetted on one toe as if about to spring away through the roof. A brooding figure of a pregnant woman seated, and still ten feet high, had grouped around its base a crouching wrestler, a half dozen bronze and plaster busts, a reclining female, a stooping woman, unfinished, with no hands and no feet and wires hanging out of her wrists like veins. An old fashioned stove stood in the middle of the floor with a small pile of coal in front of it. A stovepipe hardly bigger than a coat sleeve slanted off. at a forty-five degree angle toward the upper right hand corner of the studio thirty feet away. It sagged languidly and was held by a single long wire that dropped like a spider's web from the ceiling. Thomas Hardy in plaster, Lady Muiiel Paget, the great French detective Faralicq and an enormous, thick-lipped, fat-necked head of the French Edison, Lumiere, looked at the chaos without seeing it And around the stove, among the busts, resting his hand lightly on the dancer's heel, on Lady Paget's head, turning Faralicq around so that I could see the light on his other cheek, moved a small, gray man who has done 60 many things that one would imagine he must have already lived three lifetimes. Almost every time he turned he had a new spot of white plaster dust on his clothes. And he was not wearing the supposedly traditional sculptor's smock. The white spots were on an ordinary gray business suit On a pupa of Rodin's one might have expected baggy corduroy p-nts a wide red sash, a plush coat and a velvet hat, especially on a man with a name like Serge Yourievitch. But to look at him you would never connect him with the Latin Quarter, with diplomacy, with science of the skull cap tradition, with any of the things that he has done- He doesn't even look Russian.

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