Willard Stone (Cherokee) b. 1915 - d. 1985
"Lady of Spring," n.d.
Walnut, 27.5" x 5" x 5.5"
The Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Willard Stone is the unsung hero of Native American sculpture. Ever humble, he did not consider himself a fine artist, but rather referred to himself as a craftsperson. His "whiftling," as he called his carving, produced exquisite and elegant wood sculpture that were both modern and decorative. Upon first viewing his work, one is impressed by the fact that the subject matter and technique are not necessarily ethnic.
Stone worked in a style during the 1940s that would later be called Art Deco. He was responsible for developing a singular style of sculpture unique to Oklahoma and to Native American contemporary art. His artistic approach reflected, Stone's time, region and lifestyle and was perfectly suited for him.
"Lady of Spring" is one of the finest examples of Stone's work. It is classic Art. Deco in the tradition of Ferdmand Preiss' "Spring Awakening" or the famous Vargas nudes. Stone never totally abandons realism in his "Lady of Spring" while incorporating abstraction into his organic female form. He uses clean, flowing and sensuous lines. His smooth highly glossed finishes are reminiscent of the shiny metals favored by the Art Deco style.
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