Etienne Gros Smoke / Fumées
4 min

Venus in Foam and Fire by the Visual Artist Etienne Gros

4 min

The Soviet picaresque novel The Twelve Chairs, built around the search for jewelry hidden in the chair from Bolshevicks, contains a chapter Have Respect for Mattresses, Citizens! where the mattress is praised as a master of humans, organizing their lives and creating new families. After the discovery of polyurethane, the French painter and sculptor Etienne Gros (b. 1962) has the opportunity to visualize a certain attractive, unfathomable force hidden in the mattress. Doing this, he also pays tribute to a well-known Greek myth, as his Venus literally emerges from the foam.

Etienne Gros in his studio

Fig. 1. Etienne Gros in his studio ()

 Foam and water Etienne Gros

Fig. 2. Foam and Water (

 Etienne Gros Smoke / Fumées

Fig. 3. Smoke / Fumées (

 Etienne Gros White Breast

Fig. 4. White Breast (

 Etienne Gros Mousse / Foam sculpture

Fig. 5. Mousse / Foam sculpture, detail (

 model and foam sculpture by Etienne Gros

Fig. 6.

 Foam sculpture in glass cloche by Etienne Gros

Fig. 7. Foam sculpture in glass cloche (

 Foam sculpture with X-Ray displaying the metal carcass

Fig. 8. Foam sculpture with X-Ray displaying the metal carcass (

 Etienne Gros

Fig. 9. Detail (

 Etienne Gros foam sculpture

Fig. 10.

 Etienne Gros sculpture

Fig. 11.

 Etienne Gros erotic sculptures

Fig. 12.

 etienne gros foam artist

Fig. 13.

 Art by Etienne Gros

Fig. 14.

sculpture by Etienne Gros

Fig. 15.

Fading Beauty

Etienne Gros was born in the Vosges (eastern France) in a family of 10 children where enthusiasm for art and culture was encouraged by parents. When he moved to Paris, the Louvre became his life-long fascination. As follows from his personal website, in the 1980s, he studied in various art schools, such as Beaux-Arts d'Épinal and Beaux-Arts de Versailles. In 2006, his works received the Grand Prix of the Azart magazine. The artist is fascinated with unusual media like foam and smoke. The subject of his art is the human body in its' mortal aspect. The body obsession comes from Renaissance masters exposed in the Louvre, while the interest in mortality probably indicates the influence of Barocco. The foam fades, revealing the second sculpture, which is a metal skeleton (the owners of the sculptures also obtain its x-ray in which the carcass is visible); even his smoke pictures created with oil-lamp may remind you of the baroque philosophy manifested in the Vanitas genre and Shakespearean plays (And all our yesterdays have lighted fools / The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!). At the same time, the feminine forms in the veil of smoke have something pagan in them, bringing to mind seductive fire spirits like Lilith.

 Fumées by Etienne Gros

Fig. 16. Fumées (

In Premium more on why Gros replaced marble with foam to create his sculptures, the resemblance of his work with the "dolls" aesthetics of the influential German artist Hans Bellmer, Gros' sculptural approach, manner of working, and many more images.

Click HERE for an article on the dark doll art of Hans Bellmer