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La Serveuse (86.66)
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George Schriever
La Serveuse is classic Barnabè, pure forms stripped of non-essential detail, spare human figures depicted against the blue or gray backgrounds he favored. He emphasized hands rather than faces, and focused on figural aspects common to all rather than unique to individuals. Instead of draping over the figure, clothes are part of the integral human form, just another aspect of the body's architectural volume depicted through pure geometrical forms.
Barnabè died young; in 1960 he and his wife narrowly escaped death when their car drove off the side of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Barnabè was in the midst of profound doubts regarding his artistic and personal future, and questions were raised regarding whether he had driven off the road intentionally. One year later to the day - Barnabè's forty-seventh birthday - he was killed when his car swerved off the same stretch of road.
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