Neither artist aims at a precise representation of the model nor do they abandon its image. Instead, they draw from it an abstraction of its form and seek a balanced harmony. Catherine Viollet places Maillol’s « classical » female form in a moving and colourful universe. The exhibition « La Trêve des Héroïnes » in 1983 at the Galerie Christian Cheneau was the first presentation of her series inspired by the works of Maillol, with the character of Dina Vierny as an echo who represented for Viollet an embodied heroine.
The exhibition also invites us to revisit Maillol’s work through the prism of the 20th century. The inclusion of Deux Baigneuses ou Dina de dos et de profil (Two Bathers or Dina in Profile and Back) (1938) is a reminder that the sculptor was also a painter. In this painting, Maillol arranges two bathers face to face who, through an ambiguous staging, give the impression of being a person contemplating their own otherness. Somewhere between a studio exercise and a plastic proposal on the equivocation of forms, the painting is characteristic of Maillol’s pictorial research in the 1930s, when he multiplied the appearances of his muse Dina Vierny in his painted spaces.
The bronze Harmonie (c. 1940-1944) occupies a special place in Maillol’s work as it is his last sculpture, which remains unfinished. It is the last example of the collaboration between Dina Vierny and Maillol, who spent several years trying to give shape to his vision by studying the model. He wished to create a work different from those he had made up to that point, preserving the usual «immobility » of his sculpture while simultaneously introducing « movement » into it. It is the figure’s legs that provide the slight dynamic impulse of the sculpture as a whole, forming a tiny contrapposto, a rare element in the artist’s sculptural work. A sort of «modern Venus de Milo», the sculpture became Maillol’s artistic testament, and the title «Harmony», posthumously suggested by the American art critic John Rewald, was finally established, summing up the whole quest of Maillol’s art.