Untitled (possibly Standing Woman), c. 1940, cast bronze mounted on a marble base, 17 x 4 x 4 inches, signed in casting verso; possibly exhibited at the Art Exhibition of California Artists at the Golden Gate International Exposition, Treasure Island, San Francisco, California, February 18 through December 2, 1939, # 15 (NB: the catalog notes that Herron exhibited a sculpture with the title Standing Woman which fairly describes this work); a different cast of the same sculpture is illustrated in St. Gaudens, Maurine, Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960, Shiffer Publishing, Inc. (2015), Vol. II, pp. 491
About the Sculpture
Untitled (Standing Woman) is wonderful example of Jason Herron’s Depression Era sculpture. Remarking on Herron’s work, an art critic noted, “She is not, one feels, just a sculptor modeling form, but the woman poet, ravished as much by the feeling, as by the observed beauty of movement and gesture the feeling compels from the muscles.” Unlike many of Herron’s Art Deco influenced works which have the hallmarks of the sleekly stylized Machine Age, Untitled (Standing Woman) is a naturalistic figure cleansed of idealization. It is more Rodin than Manship. Herron’s figure is a real woman born of Herron’s close observation of the real muscles and the authentic contours of the female form. The figure’s head, with its rounded nearly masculine face, broad and elongated nose, thick lips and long flowing hair, do not match the conventional notion of youth obsessed beauty from the 1920s and 1930s. Instead, Herron gives us the beauty of an actual person. Although we do not know who modeled for the work, it bares of striking resemblance to Herron herself.
About the Artist
Jason Herron was one of the most prominent female sculptors living and working in California during the first half of the 20th century. Born in Denver, Colorado, her given name was Jessie Emerson Herron, but she assumed the name “Jason” early in her professional career. As an infant, Herron moved with her family to Los Angeles. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and studied art at L’Academie Colarrossi in Paris, the Los Angeles Art Institute, the Otis Art Institute, and the University of Southern California. Herron was active in the Federal Art Project, a New Deal program which provided work to artists across the country. Herron served as Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor of Sculpture for the Federal Art Project in Los Angeles. Together with Henry Lion and Sherry Peticolas, Herron sculpted a work entitled The Power of Water in Lafayette Park in Los Angeles. She also sculpted two large works, Erda and Modern Youth, both of which were placed in Los Angeles Country Schools by the Project. Herron was well respected not only as an artist, but also as a savvy arts administrator. In 1941, she served as the Southern California Chairperson for National Art Week, an ambitious program designed with the dual purposes of promoting the sale of paintings, sculpture, drawings and prints for the benefit of artists who were still struggling under the weight of the Great Depression and providing the opportunity for average Americans to purchase artwork at a fraction of the customary prices by avoiding the traditional gallery system. Herron served on the board of governors of the Los Angeles County Art Institute and the Otis Art Institute. She was a member of the Los Angeles Art Association, California Art Club, Western Women Art Association, and the Southern California Artists. Herron exhibited nationally during the 1930s and 1940s, including at the Legion of Honor (San Francisco), the National Academy of Design (New York), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington DC). She won prizes at the Los Angeles County Fair (1934), the Pomona Fair (1934), the Ebell Club (Los Angeles 1935 and 1939), and the California Art Club (1946). She is listed in Who was Who in American Art and other standard references.