José de Creeft learned from a range of sculptural traditions but ultimately arrived at his own spontaneous approach to form and material. He began to model clay and carve wood at an early age, serving as an apprentice to a wood carver in Barcelona beginning at age 13. A few years later, he observed Inuit artisans carving ivory near his home in Madrid, which inspired him to explore direct methods of carving. He continued this interest after immigrating to the United States in 1929. In addition to teaching at The Art Students League and the New School for Social Research in New York City, de Creeft taught stone and wood carving in 1944 at Black Mountain College. There, he met sculptor and painter Lorrie Goulet, the woman he would be married to for the rest of his life.
José de Creeft, Head, 1959, granite, 12 ¼ × 9 × 13 ¼. Black Mountain College Collection, gift of Lorrie Goulet, 2008.24.31. © Estate of Jose de Creeft / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image by David Dietrich.