The J. Paul Getty Museum

L' Air

Object Details


L' Air


Aristide Maillol (French, 1861 - 1944)




design 1938; cast 1962



Object Number:



127 × 238.8 × 93.3 cm, 687.1995 kg (50 × 94 × 36 3/4 in., 1515 lb.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Fran and Ray Stark

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Object Description

This monumental nude seems to float in space. Although cast in lead, the smooth, grayish-blue surface actually enhances the form's light, buoyant appearance. Perched delicately on her right hip, the figure's extended legs and left arm create a strong horizontal, echoed in the plinth beneath her. Resting on an imaginary center of gravity, she teeters between immobility and movement, suspension and flight. The nude's face and figure are idealized--rather than a portrait of an individual, it is a personification of air.

In 1938, the city of Toulouse in southern France commissioned Aristide Maillol to commemorate the pilots of the pioneering airmail service, l'Aéropostale, who had been killed in the line of duty.Air was cast from the plaster model for this monument. Its form was initially inspired by a small terra cotta sculpture Maillol had made several decades earlier depicting a reclining figure resting on wind-blown drapery. The artist often used the female form to symbolize aspects of nature like the sea, the seasons, and even a subject as elusive as air.

- 1983

Galerie Dina Vierny, sold to Fran and Ray Stark, January 25, 1983.

1983 - 1992

Fran Stark and Ray Stark, upon the death of Fran Stark, retained by her husband, Ray Stark, 1992.

1992 - 2004

Ray Stark, upon his death, distributed to the Ray Stark Revocable Trust.

2004 - 2005

The Ray Stark Revocable Trust, donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum.


The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), pp. vi, 279, ill.

Boström, Antonia, ed. The Fran and Ray Stark Collection of 20th-Century Sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008), pp. 106-9, no. 15, entry by Christopher Bedford.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 8th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), p. 321, ill.