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Art/ Online Features/ Viewpoints: Body Language/ The Vine

The Vine

Harriet Whitney Frishmuth | The Vine | 27.66 

Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (American, 1880–1980). The Vine, 1921; revised 1923; this cast 1924. Bronze. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1927 (27.66).

Shown stretching upward and outward in imitation of a living vine, this lyrical nude balances on tiptoe in the ecstasy of performance, with a grapevine suspended in her hands. Frishmuth often turned to dancers for her sculptural themes and had them pose for her with musical accompaniment. Desha Delteil of the Fokine Ballet served as the model for the monumental version of The Vine. The fluid arc of her body projects a self-assured euphoria associated with the United States after the First World War, in the years familiarly known as the Roaring Twenties. In the early twentieth century, sculptures of dancing women were produced in great numbers, inspired by the popularity of Isadora Duncan, Loïe Fuller, and Anna Pavlova.

"The idea of launching your body back, without seeing, is liberating but also terrifying."

—Francesca Harper, dancer

"There is a very interesting dialogue between these elements: the human and the natural."

—Thayer Tolles, curator

"One of the dancers said she held this pose for twenty-five minutes and, honestly, I don't know how anyone could do that."

—Thayer Tolles, curator

All voices: Thayer Tolles, curator; Francesca Harper, dancer

Transcripts: A Body Responds in Dance (Video), The Artist at Work (Video)