Demetre Haralamb Chiparus (16 September 1886, Dorohoi, Romania - 22 January 1947, Paris, France) was an Art Deco era sculptor who lived and worked in Paris. He was born in Romania, as a son of Haralamb and Saveta, in 1909 he went to Italy, where he studied at the classes of Italian sculptor Raffaello Romanelli. In 1912 he traveled to Paris to attend the Ecole des Beaux Arts to pursue his art at the classes of Antonin Mercie and Jean Boucher. First sculptures of Chiparus were created at the realistic style and were exhibited at the Salon of 1914. He employed the combination of bronze and ivory, called chryselephantine, to great effect. Most of his renowned works were made between 1914 and 1933. The first series of sculptures manufactured by Chiparus were the series of the children.
Since the aerly 1920's the mature style of Chiparus took shape. His sculptures are remarkable for their bright and outstanding decorative effect, his work was influenced by an interest in Egypt, after Pharaoh Tutankhamen's tomb was excavated. Dancers of the Russian Ballet, French theatre, and early motion pictures were among his more notable subjects and were typified by a long, slender, stylized appearance. He worked primarily with the Edmond Etling and Cie Foundry in Paris administrated by Julien Dreyfus. Les Neveux de J. Lehmann was the second foundry who constantly worked with Chiparus and produced the sculptures by his models.
Chuparus rarely exhibited at the Salon. Only in 1923 he showed his “Javelin Thrower” and in 1928 exhibited his “Ta-Keo” dancer. During the period of nazism prosecutions and Second World War the founders no longer produced the works of Chiparus. Economic situation was not favorable for the development of decorative arts and the circumstances of many sculptors became worse. Since the early 1940-s almost none works of Chiparus were sold but the artist continued working for his own pleasure, making animal sculptures in Art Deco style. In 1942 at the Paris Salon the plaster sculptures “Polar Bear” and “American Bison” were exhibited and in 1943 he showed marble “Polar Bear” and plaster “Pelican”. Demetre Chiparus died in 1947 and was buried in Bagneux cemetery, just south of Paris.
Collector’s interest to the masterpieces by Chiparus appeared in the 1970-s and flourished in 1990-2000-s.
ART DECO SCULPTURES by Demetre Chiparus
Sculptures of Dimitri Chiparus represent the classical manifestation of Art Deco style in decorative bronze ivory sculpture. Traditionally there can be can distinguished four factors of influence over the creative activity of the artist: Serge Diaghilev Ballets Russes , Egypt ancient art, French theatre, and early motion pictures were among his more notable subjects and were typified by a long, slender, stylized appearance. Some of his sculptures were straightly inspired by Russian dancers – for example, faces of “Persian Dance” figures reveal the portrait traits of Vaclav Nijinsji and Ida Rubinshtein, and the dress if “Starfish” exactly reproduces the sketch for Goldfish’s dress from the ballet “Underwater kingdom” by Lev Annensky. Chiparus could have been influenced by Russian ballets indirectly, through the performances of French music-halls and cabarets which bearded the traces of strong impact of Russian ballets. Quiet often Chiparus used the photos of Russian and French dancers, vedettes and models from fashion magazines of his time.
The art of ancient Egypt and East came to the french fashion after the tomb of Tutanhamon was discovered in 1922 and also found it’s reflection in the creative activity of Chiparus. There are several sculptures representing Egyptian queen Cleopatra, Egyptian dancers by Dimitri Chiparus and Claire Colinet. The sculptures of Chiparus are the definite reflection of his time, his works embody the spirit of “folle” 1920-1930-s. Coming from the oldest French tradition of high-quality and extra-artistic decorative arts, the sculptures by Dimitri Chiparus combined elegance and luxury, embodied the spirit of Art Deco epoch.