FENOSA, Appel Les (1899-1988)

Bronze sculptures
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Spain
Donation made to UNESCO by the artist's widow
© Photo: UNESCO/P. Lagès. "The Olive Tree" (1981) by A. les Fenosa
Fondation A. Fenosa


"The Olive Tree" (1981), signed and numbered IV 5/81, 25x11,5x9 cm

"Beryl" (1981), signed and numbered I 5/81, 18,5x4,7x6 cm

"Altaïr" (1987), signed and numbered III 5/87, 17,5x5x4 cm

The six bronze works acquired by UNESCO in 1998 (of which three are represented here), thanks to the donation made by the artist’s widow, represent the course of Fenosa's work. One can see his fantasy-like world in which female figures are gradually transformed into natural elements. The "Olive Tree" statuette perfectly demonstrates this: the girl’s body takes on the appearance of a tree trunk upon which leaves flourish. This metamorphosis of female characters into spirits, mythical creatures that seem directly taken from Ovid's "Metamorphosis", appears to be the most recurrent theme in Fenosa's work. He was furthermore particularly sensitive to mythology or to precious shapes which only nature is capable of creating. We can see this interest for example through the statuette “Beryl”, which is a mineral of variable size, sometimes very large, formed at the end of the crystallization of the granite massifs.

Fenosa praised both the beauty of nature and adulated the beauty of the female figure. This drove him to draw a similar parallel with the star Altaïr – star which shines brightly in the sky and whose name means “flying eagle”.

The great technical achievement in Fenosa’s work is in the fact that his bronze sculptures seem to come alive and be in perfect harmony with nature. The six statues also express the direction graudally taken by Fenosa, showing an increasingly important synthesis of form, even to the point of abstraction, as is demonstrated with “Altaïr”.

Artist Biography

The Spanish sculptor Appel Les Fenosa was born in Barcelona in 1899. He first settled in Paris in 1921, where he met Picasso. During the Spanish Civil War, Fenosa lived in Barcelona where he fought with the Republican ranks; however, with the rise of Franco's supporter he was forced to live in exile as of 1939. He settled in France until his death and exhibited his work in major cities across the world. His work mainly consists of small bronze statuettes, monumental one being quite uncommon. In 1981, UNESCO commissioned him for the execution of the Education for Peace trophy, represented by an olive tree, symbol of peace.