Jacques Lipchitz (Druskieniki, Lithuania, 1891 - Capri, Italy, 1973) is part of the group of innovative sculpture artists which also includes Constantin Brancusi, Henri Laurens, Ossip Zadkine and Amedeo Modigliani. The avant-garde sculptural language evolves from Cubist discourse and betters the modelling technique and the late-romantic expressionist aesthetics imposed by Auguste Rodin.
Lipchitz moves to La Ruche, into the building-hive of workshops in the neighbourhood of Montparnasse on his arrival in Paris in 1909. His career is defined by the achievement of a Cubist sculpture, based on synthetic shapes and volumes. His close collaboration with John Gris also stands out, with him he "brings to life the call to order" in the words of specialist Christopher Green, who defends and supports L'Effort Moderne, and the Léonce Rosenberg Gallery, Lipchitz’s dealer between 1916 and 1920.
This exhibition claims that once he assumes cubism as a fundamental grammar to his work, the Lithuanian sculptor participates in the renovation and revolution of the sculpture. The starting point is the conception of it from closed values, because of its architectural sense of space and its capacity for the monumental, languages which the artist develops and fine tunes between 1915 and 1925.
With the pictorial example of Gris and Pablo Picasso and the analytical model of Umberto Boccioni, Lipchitz proposes a sculpture called "organic Cubism", where the value of construction is imposed on the value dissection. José Francisco Yvars, exhibition curator, defines it as "simple abstract structures converted into frontal masses balanced by overlapping planes, with smooth figurative indications modulated by shadows."
This description is valid for his reliefs and round pieces such as Marinero con guitarra, (1914) o Arlequín con mandolina (1920). In addition, in the works of this defining moment, Gothic reminiscences appear which remaining long after: the mandorla as a structural framework of compositions and a strong sense of verticality. All of this accentuates the monumental nature of his public and decorative sculptures, as seen in Arlequín con mandolina en un óvalo (1923) y Estudio para Notre-Dame de Liesse (1953).
Lipchitz's work between 1926 and 1930 is characterised as experimental, with a command of transparency, as in La alegría de vivir (1927). After that he grows closer to Alberto Giacometti, Jean Arp and Henry Moore. The formal and artistic evolution of his sculptural language coincides with a change in his themes: classical mythology and biblical issues, which respond to the current political and social moment. The modelling reveals the dramatic and allegorical loads that he adds to his compositions which refer to the Spanish Civil War, such as Escena de guerra civil (1936) and the Second World War, like in El rapto de Europa (1941). It also reflects his exile to the United States in 1941 in pieces such as El peregrino (1942). His later sculptures show a return to issues that had already been touched on and themes of mythology and the Bible, driven by the recovery of his Jewish roots.
IVAM, Valencia (September 18 - November 30, 1997)
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