Caesar, Doris Porter (1892–1971)

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Caesar, Doris Porter (1892–1971)

American sculptor of bronze figures. Born Doris Porter in Brooklyn, New York, in 1892; died in Litch-field, Connecticut, in 1971: attended Spence School for girls and Art Students League; studied with George Bridgman and Alexander Archipenko; married, in 1913; children: two sons and a daughter.

The daughter of a brilliant and successful lawyer, Doris Porter Caesar began her art studies at the age of 16, dividing her time between a prestigious girls' school and the Art Students League. With her marriage in 1913, however, she traded her artistic ambitions for the responsibilities of a well-to-do housewife, and it wasn't until 1925 that she began to reemerge as a sculptor. Struggling to find her own personal style, she studied with Alexander Archipenko, the pioneering cubist. In 1927, having cast her first bronze piece, Caesar took it to E. Weyhe, a prospective dealer who ran a combination bookstore-art gallery on Lexington Avenue in New York City and was an enthusiast of German Expressionism. Influenced by Weyhe's personal collection, which contained the works of Wilhelm Barlach, Ernst Lehmbruck, and Käthe Kollwitz , Caesar turned away from classical forms and distorted her figure pieces until they were almost "stick-like" in appearance. This Expressionistic distortion is evident in sculpture groups like Mother and Child (1947) and Descent from the Cross (1950). In the loose style of these works, the unsmoothed thumb marks in the clay remain as a textural element in the finished bronzes. Caesar's style was fully developed in the 1950s, during which time she produced only single, naked female figures, tense and tactile, smoother surfaced, but elongated in form. A work called Torso (1953) is indicative of this later style.

Caesar moved to Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1957, where she continued to work until her death at the age of 78. Forty of her pieces were part of a four-person show entitled Four American Expressionists, presented at the Whitney Museum in 1959.


Doris Caesar Collection, Syracuse University Library.