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About the Artist: John I. H. Baur, in the 1959 Whitney Museum catalogue Four American Expressionists, characterized the mature work of Doris Caesar succinctly: "She has concentrated on a single theme-the naked female body-and she has wrung from it a poignant expression of what it is to be a woman, or perhaps one should simply say of what it is to be. The flesh has a virginal tautness, it is weighted by the ripeness of maturity, it is hacked and furrowed, hollowed and bossed by childbirth, by desire, by submission and the stress of experience." Baur's careful analysis of the expressive flesh of Caesar's sculpture not only offered explication of the artist's motives but also linked her philosophically with German Expressionism. Caesar's interest in Expressionism, particularly the work of Wilhelm Lehmbruck (1881-1919) and Ernest Barlach (1870-1938), began in the 1930s. Her Woman series of the 1950s and 1960s looks to Lehmbruck for the sinewy elongation of the body, which is also characteristic of Gothic sculpture, and to Barlach for the heavy masses and stout forms.
Caesar adopted an expressionist language relatively late. She studied painting at the Art Students League in New York from 1909-13. The artist then interrupted her burgeoning career to begin her family. When she resumed her education in 1925, she studied with Cubist sculptor Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964). She cast her first sculpture in 1927. Caesar never adopted the style of her instructor but preferred to work in a style similar to that of Auguste Rodin. Concluding her study with Archipenko in 1930, she had her first solo exhibition at the Montross Gallery in New York the following year.
Shortly after Caesar's death in 1971, her husband, Harry Caesar, began a discussion with Wichita State University Vice President Martin H. Bush regarding the gift of a number of sculptures. The gift led to the development of the Doris Caesar Sculpture Court located outside the east entrance to the museum.