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Sign Talk / Malvina Hoffman, 1885 - 1966 (Artist)

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Blackfoot Man, an alternate title for Sign Talk, was one of 104 life-size sculptures created for Hoffman’s Races of Mankind for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Hoffman’s contract granted her the right to cast the small-scale figures as an unlimited series while the museum reserved the right to sell the small casts with profits split 50/50. Hoffman’s records indicate 13 casts (one-third life-size) of this sculpture were sold during her life for $800 each. This cast, marked “Copyright Malvina Hoffman-Field Museum, Chicago” identifies both holders of the rights. Hoffman studied in France with sculptor Auguste Rodin, and in 1910, first met his founder, Eugene Rudier, who used the mark of his father, Alexis. Hoffman wrote of her daily visits to the Rudier foundry, where 60 workers were casting her sculptures for Races of Mankind, to supervise the finishing and patination (coloring) and “to suggest the variety of tones and textures of all the races so that monotony would be avoided in the final presentation of one hundred subjects.” Here colors have been carefully selected to indicate skin and hair. The base is cast with the figure rather than added after casting.

From the exhibition:Frontier to Foundry: the Making of Small Bronze Sculpture in the Gilcrease Collection, December 2014 - March 2015.
Ann Boulton Young, Associate Conservator for the Gilcrease Museum, 2014.

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Sign Talk; Blackfoot Man; Indian in sign talk pose
Malvina Hoffman, 1885 - 1966 (Artist)
modeled 1930; sand cast between 1933 and 1941
sand cast in bronze
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
Previous Number(s): 
0827.55; 41015
Not On View

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