José de Creeft (1908-1982) was a Spanish-born sculptor active in New York City, New York.
José de Creeft was born in Guadalajara, Spain and raised in Barcelona. In 1900, he apprenticed to sculptor Don Augustine Querol and studied drawing with Idalgo de Caviedas. De Creeft moved to Paris in 1905 and began formal art training at the Académie Julianand. He also took a studio in the Batteau Lavoir in Montmartre, where he interacted with Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Manolo, and Pablo Gargallo, all of whom also had studios there. During this period, de Creeft became friends with the artist Mateo Hernandez.
In 1915, de Creeft rejected the traditional technique of reproducing sculpture in stone from clay and plaster models and turned to direct carving in wood and stone. He was also one of the first sculptors who practiced assemblage and incorporated found objects into his work. His notable assemblage sculpture El Picador, a large figure on horseback, received worldwide press coverage and was exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Independents in 1926. Between 1919 and 1928, his work was exhibited in various Paris salons. In the late 1920s, he created 200 stone carvings for Roberto Ramonje's Forteleza (fortress) in Mallorca. It was around this time frame when de Creeft met Alexander Calder, who became his student in direct carving. De Creeft encouraged Calder to display his mechanical toys and Calder put his Circus together for the first time in de Creeft's studio.
De Creeft emigrated to the United States in 1929, right after marrying fellow sculptor Alice Robertson Carr. They divorced nine years later.
While in New York, de Creeft began sculpting with lead sheets beaten into three-dimensional forms and established a studio at 1 Washington Square. His first solo exhibition was at the Ferargil Galleries in New York City and included The Portrait of Cesar Vallejo in chased lead and The Silver Fox of found materials.
In 1932, de Creeft accepted a teaching position in sculpture at the New School for Social Research. He also taught courses at Black Mountain College, where he met his second wife, sculptor Lorrie Goulet, the Art Students League, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Norton Gallery and School of Art. In 1946, de Creeft and Goulet purchased a hundred-acre farm in Hoosick Falls, NY where they established a studio and part-time residence.
Perhaps De Creeft's most well-known monumental scuplture is Alice in Wonderland in Central Park, New York City. The 12' x 16' bronze was dedicated during a public event in 1959 and gave de Creeft worldwide recognition. In 1995 a short film about the making of the sculpture was produced by J. D'Alba and narrated by Lorrie Goulet.
De Creeft was as founding member of the American Artist's Congress, the Sculptors Guild, and the Artist's Equity Association. De Creeft was represented by the Georgette Passedoit Gallery from 1936 to 1949. Later, he joined The Contemporaries (gallery) and exhibited there until 1966. Kennedy Galleries represented de Creeft from 1970 until his death in 1982.