Unlike fellow sculptor Rodin's expressive style using highly varied, dramatic compositions and detailed surface modeling, Maillol instilled a unique artistic approach by fusing pared-down modernist forms with the iconographic traditions of antiquity. He had long been fascinated with the art of Ancient Greece, through his studies of the Louvre's excellent collection, but it was a trip to the Greek islands with his patron Count Harry Kessler in 1908 that truly transformed his understanding of the ancient Greeks' approach to sculpture. He stated: ''I prefer the primitive art of Olympus to that of the Parthenon… It is an art of synthesis, a higher art than ours today, which seeks to represent the human flesh" (quoted in John Rewald, Maillol, London, 1939, p. 17).
The pose of Torse Debussy is undoubtedly derived from the Greek archetype of the Crouching Venus. Two particular versions of this in the Louvre's collection would have been very familiar to Maillol. The Aphrodite accroupie from the Gerantet Collection is especially closely linked to Torse Debussy in its elimination of the arms and head of the figure and in the delicate yet dramatic contrapposto animating the composition (see fig. 1).
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