Michel Bassompierre is one of the most important artists in the field of contemporary animal sculpture. He has breathed a new and singular style into this discipline, recognisable at first glance. Seductive and touching, his work has traversed the globe, allowing his bronze menagerie to escape to the four corners of the world.
Captivated by drawing and sculpting since his childhood, Michel Bassompierre grew up in a large family between an artist mother and a scientist father. This duality may well have influenced his future work, which is characterised by a resolutely contemporary visual approach associated with a fundamental anatomical rigour. Trained in the workshop of Leleu at the school of Beaux-Arts in Rouen, Michel Bassompierre learned to look. Innumerable sketches were brought to life at the zoo, in the menageries or circuses, and even at the National Museum of Natural History. Through these he constructed his understanding of the animal body, this ingeniously articulated machine, capable of stunning lines of movement that he sought only to grasp. It is this vitality that he manages to transmit which makes his work so insightful. If drawing is determinative, the model to which it is applied completes the whole. Indeed, following in the footsteps of François Pompon, Michel Bassompierre sheds the anecdotal to attain the essential. Giving precedence to the round shapes of bears, gorillas, Asian elephants and horses, and the like, he accomplishes a form which is as soft as it is precise, where light never quite disturbs the shadows. In its own way, this is a visceral connection to the natural world, a connection he nourishes with great fascination, far removed from and above any anthropomorphism. These harmonious animals, whom we seem to surprise within the natural space of their lives, are incarnated in bronze or in Carrara marble according to the traditional codes of sculpture.
This is an individual who knows how to bring passionate work to life, work which testifies to an exceptional mastery of design, a perfect comprehension of volume, and a poetic approach to light which gives the observer an irresistible urge to reach out their hand. But it is also the artist’s tenderness, respect and humility that emerge in this work of rare delicacy.