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 Raoul Hague  (1905 - 1993)

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Lived/Active: New York / Turkey      Known for: large-scale carved wood abstract torsos

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Of Raoul Hague, it was written that he "had two insatiable loves: the human figure and the materials he carved. They come together with remarkable clarity" . . . in his torsos whose titles often have the type of wood used. ((Reynolds 252)

In his massive wooden sculptures of the human figure, Raoul Hague reflected his understanding that the tree is a living body with a pattern of growth and individual expression. Like humans they are vulnerable to environmental problems and can have long life spans. He said: "I cut the mass into fragments and I move in it. One can orchestrate in the wood---I don't have a clear idea when I start . . . So you begin. You stare at it, and finally you have to do something. . . You make a cut. From then on it follows." (Herskovic 154)

Hague spent most of his working life in Woodstock, New York where he died in 1993 at age 88. His close friends were Arshile Gorky and Phillip Guston. Since his death, he has received minimal attention with no retrospective planned of his work.

His signature pieces are between five and six feet tall and are carved from large, solid pieces of walnut, revealing concentric rings and grain lines. Hague began most pieces with the crotch of the tree, the place where the trunk ended and the branches moved outward. Beginning his carving there, he explored the depth of the tree and the origins from which the branches develop.

Originally he placed his carved-wood sculptures on large wooden dollies for portability, and then because they looked so appropriate, the dollies became permanent bases for his work.

Raoul Hague was born in Constantinople, Turkey; came to the United States in 1921 and became a U.S. citizen in 1931. He studied at Iowa State College from 1922 to 1925, the Art Institute of Chicago from 1925 to 1927, the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in New York City from 1927 to 1928 and the Art Students League in New York from 1950 to 1951.

Hague settled in Woodstock, New York and was active with the Woodstock Art Association. From 1935 to 1939, he was National Director of the Federal Art Project with Holger Cahill, and from 1941 to 1943, he served in the United States Army, stationed in Colorado.

Exhibition venues included the Pennsylvania Academy, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Salons of America.


Sources include:
Robert Taplin, "Art in America", 11/2000
Marika Herskovic, Editor, "American Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s"
Donald Martin Reynolds, "Masters of American Sculpture"
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Raoul Hague is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Abstract Expressionism

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