Pierre Blanc moved to Paris in October 1925. Though still a young man, he had already been part of the team working on the sculpted decor in the Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne. In Paris, he set out to become an animal sculptor, sketching the volumes, poses and movements of creatures he studied at the Jardin des Plantes menagerie and the Vincennes zoo. He soon became acquainted with the animal sculptor François Pompon, who gave him advice and encouragement. Pompon had achieved acclaim rather late in life, at the Autumn Salon of 1922, where the rounded, smooth, modernist aesthetic of his Ours blanc (Polar Bear) formed a striking contrast with the nineteenth-century tradition that still dominated the field of animal sculpture.
Under the twin influences of Pompon and Art deco, Blanc stripped away detail in favour of a decorative, highly stylised form characterised by geometric lines, generous volumes and soft, polished planes. The bird he chose, a pouter pigeon, has a naturally majestic pose with a large inflatable crop almost swallowing up its small head and feathers hiding its feet. It proved particularly suited to Blanc’s style, eschewing individualism for compact solidity. Pouter Pigeon is not a particularly large work, but it is nonetheless monumental.
Blanc’s animal sculptures earned him recognition at the Autumn Salon, the Salon des artistes decorateurs and the Salon des Tuileries. Pouter Pigeon was reproduced in porcelain by the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres in 1933. When called to join the French army in 1939, Blanc returned to Lausanne, where he remained for the rest of his career. His return to Switzerland sparked a more conventional, figurative style of sculpture in response to the many public and private commissions he received.
Erika Billeter, Chantal Michetti-Prod’Hom et alii, Sculptures du Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts Lausanne. Œuvres choisies, Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, 1990, p. 100-101.