ALEXANDRE NOLL, SCULPTOR
October 2019 | 19, avenue Matignon, Paris 8
Alexandre Noll was born in Reims in 1890, the child of Alsatian working-class parents. Once he finished high school, he started working as a bank clerk, giving up his interest in drawing. (…)
Alexandre Noll participated in the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs, then in the Salon des Artistes décorateurs and the Salon d’Automne. From 1927 onwards, he exhibited regularly at La Crémaillère gallery. However, it was in the 1930s that Noll’s style fully developed. He designed one-off objects (trays, bowls, cases, boxes, jugs) carved out of a variety of woods, some precious (ebony, mahogany, sycamore, rosewood, violet wood) and others rustic (walnut, beech, elm).
Noll elevated his chosen material, of which he carved directly in the manner of a sculptor : first he would roughyl cut down the timber with a saw and then refine the shape with chisels and gouges, making the most of each imperfection, knot or grain, which were constitutive of the tree’s individuality. Finally he would even out and polish the surfaces to achieve his signature smooth touch and stone-like sheen.
Noll had a passion for wood and enhanced its sensuous beauty. Based in his Fontenay aux Roses studio where he worked throughout his life, he moved from small objects to furniture, and grappled with trunks and logs. Seats, consoles, chests, tables, chests of drawers and sideboards were carved or modelled out of the rough material, which itself imposed the form. He disregarded unnecessary details or ornaments, and produced pieces always with their use in mind.
Nowadays his modernity is a source of fascination. It seems to reside in the purity of his forms, as much as in his sincere relation to the material, combined with an uncompromising dedication to the tireless pursuit of perfection.