Beautiful Bodies: The Adventures of Malvina Hoffman

Beautiful Bodies
The Adventures of Malvina Hoffman

This is not a story about art. Although Malvina Hoffman was known as America's Rodin, her story is one of adventure, intrigue and life among the greatest artists and power brokers during the early to mid-20th century. Every action Malvina undertook broke glass ceilings. She smashed through her fears to achieve the impossible, many times over. She was an inspiration to all.

Sculptor of the first rank in the 20th century, Hoffman was student and great friend of Auguste Rodin. She hid his works with him, in the basement of the Biron Hotel (Musée Rodin ) before World War I, then went on to install the first Musée Rodin after Rodin's death. She won almost every award in sculpting in New York and Paris and was a household name. The indefatigable Malvina traveled the world and sculpted 105 life-size bronzes for the Field Museum in three years creating a collection filled with life. The Hall of Mankind commission was a feat, so extraordinary, it may never be repeated. Over 10 million people visited her exhibition at the Field Museum until it was dismantled in 1968.

Hoffman traveled around the world in 1931 to the deepest, darkest corners of the globe and brought history to life for many of the ancient cultures she sculpted. War, jungles, typhoons, freezing temperatures, radical surgery on her arm and disease did not hamper Malvina’s quest or success in this magnificent effort. She not only completed the close-to-impossible commission, but she gave life to the people she cast in bronze; she gave them a voice. No man or woman today could do the same body of work in only three years. Malvina Hoffman completed the Hall of Mankind on time and on budget. The financial success of the exhibition helped save the Field Museum during the economic depression in America. The scope was historic, greater than Rodin's Gates of Hell.

Included will be stories about her three aunts on board Titanic. Auguste Rodin plays heavily, she was his good friend and protege. There are letters to and from many of the greatest artists and people of the day. This is an intimate portrayal of a woman of influence and talent who lived life by her own rules. Gertrude Stein, Ida Sedgwick Proper and Paris in the early 20th century are featured. Hoffman's relationship with ballerina Anna Pavlova, her muse and dearest friend is explored. Pavlova and Hoffman collaborated for over 15 years and both helped each other in the business of their businesses. Both women were single, global entrepreneurs before women had the right to vote. Their friendship was tied together through their love of dance, art and business and together they created what was called a masterpiece - a 26-panel bas relief frieze of the Bacchanale ballet, which was only seen twice in it's entirety.

Malvina Hoffman was, and is, an American treasure. It is time to bring her out of the basements of the greatest museums and back into her rightful place as American woman extraordinaire.Compelling and quick moving, Malvina Hoffman never rested, nor does the book.


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