The Deserted Ariadne

Josef Mařatka1903

Olomouc Museum of Art

Olomouc Museum of Art

The Jugendstil sculpture The Deserted Ariadne, of 1903, is one of the fundamental works in Czech sculpture, because it foresees a shift in the development of the genre. Josef Mařatka, who in 1896–1898 at the Academy in Prague, under Myslbek, obtained a sound basis in the naturalistic conception of human figure, further developed in his work the relation between form and content. Mařatka’s training in Paris, under Auguste Rodin, whose student and also assistant he became around 1900, fundamentally influenced his further work. At first, guided by Rodin, he produced sculptural studies of arms and feet. With his series of female nudes done in 1902–1903 he brought a new quality to Czech sculpture, free from the traditional attitudes to composition. The motif adopted from the ancient legend in which the daughter of Minos, King of Crete, is separated by cruel fate from her beloved Theseus and grieves to death, was expressed in the sculpture of the nude, full of tension, emotional torment and pain. The motif is treated without any simplified descriptiveness, the statue represents a completely free conception of the nude. The artist was aided here by the drawings of the body in motion, in irregular rhythmic curves. The dynamic curve of the statue of Ariadne, achieved by the close arch of the sharply bent body leaning against the rock, is an outcry of despair and emptiness. The formal idea of empty space within the closed outline of the female body, the “inner” sculptural space, is regarded as a new radical and modern expression of the Jugendstil symbolism.

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  • Title: The Deserted Ariadne
  • Creator: Josef Mařatka
  • Date: 1903
  • Physical Dimensions: h. 30,5 cm, w. 25 cm
  • Medium: bronze