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#22 William Zorach – Spirit of the Dance




William Zorach was born in Lithuania in 1889, but moved with his family to Cleveland, Ohio, when he was four. He first worked as a commercial artist in that city before receiving formal training as a painter in New York and Paris. He began carving wood in 1917, but devoted himself exclusively to sculpture in 1922. Zorach took great delight in finding unusual and exotic woods in order to experiment with their special characteristics such as grain, hardness, and color.

Zorach’s Spirit of the Dance was selected by the Rockefeller family to be placed inside Radio City Music Hall in New York. Cast in the then ultra modern medium of aluminum, the monumental dancer taking a bow was completed in 1932. Considerable controversy developed over the nudity of the figure when the sculpture was first exhibited, and for some months the dancer disappeared from view. When the artist exhibited a clay model, however, it was so well received by art critics and the general public that the aluminum sculpture was returned to public view at Radio City Music Hall where it can still be seen. Zorach authorized an edition of six bronze casts of this sculpture.

“I love its form and boldness. It is powerful!” – anonymous

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