Jacques Lipchitz


Jacques Lipchitz (August 22, 1891 - May 16, 1973) was a Cubist sculptor. Jacques Lipchitz was born Chaim Jacob Lipchitz in Druskininkai, Lithuania, under the rule of the Russian Empire, as a son of the Jewish building contractor. At first, under the influence of his father, he studied engineering, but soon after, supported by his mother he moved to Paris (1909) to study at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian.

It was there, in the artistic communities of Montmartre and Montparnasse that he joined a group of artists that included Juan Gris and Pablo Picasso and where his friend, Amedeo Modigliani, painted "The Sculptor Jacques Lipchitz and His Wife Berthe Lipchitz."

Living in this environment, Lipchitz soon began to create Cubist sculptures. In 1912 he exhibited at the Salon National des Beaux-Arts and the Salon d'Automne with his first one-man show held at Léonce Rosenberg's Galerie L’Effort Moderne in Paris in 1920. In 1922 he was commissioned by the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania for five bas-reliefs.

With artistic innovation at its height, in the 1920s he experimented with abstract forms he called transparent sculptures. Later he developed a more dynamic style, which he applied with telling effect to bronze figure and animal compositions.

With the German occupation of France during World War II, and the deportation of Jews to the Nazi death camps, Jacques Lipchitz had to flee France. With the assistance of the American journalist Varian Fry in Marseille, he escaped the Nazi regime and went to the United States. There, he eventually settled in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. He was one of 250 sculptors who exhibited in the 3rd Sculpture International held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the summer of 1949. He has been identified in the LIFE Magazine photograph showing 70 of them. In 1954 a Lipchitz retrospective traveled from The Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and The Cleveland Museum of Art. In 1959, his series of small bronzes "To the Limit of the Possible" was shown at Fine Arts Associates in New York.

Lipchitz taught one of the most famous contemporary artists, Marcel Mouly.

Beginning in 1963 he returned to Europe where he worked for several months of each year in Pietrasanta, Italy. In 1972 his autobiography was published on the occasion of an exhibition of his sculpture at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Jacques Lipchitz died in Capri, Italy. His body was flown to Jerusalem for burial.

Selected works

  • "Sailor with Guitar" - 1914
  • "Bather" - (1916-17)
  • "Bather, bronze" - 1923-25
  • "Reclining Nude with Guitar" - (1928), a prime example of Cubism
  • "Dancer with Veil" - (1928)
  • "Dancer" - (1929)
  • "Bull and Condor" - (1932)
  • "Bust of a Woman" - (1932)
  • "David and Goliath" - (1933)
  • "Embracing Figures" - (1941)
  • "Prometheus Strangling the Vulture" - (1944)
  • "Rescue II"- (1947)
  • "Mother and Child" - (1949) at the Honolulu Academy of Arts
  • "Bellerophon Taming Pegasus: Large Version" - (1964-66) at Columbia Law School
  • "Peace on Earth" - (1967-1969)


  • Hammacher, Abraham Marie, “Jacques Lipchitz, His Sculpture”, New York, H.N. Abrams, 1961.
  • Hope, Henry Radford, “The Sculpture of Jacques Lipchitz”, New York, Plantin press, printed for the Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art, 1954.
  • Lipchitz, Jacques, “My Life in Sculpture”, New York, Viking Press, 1972.
  • Stott, Deborah A., “Jacques Lipchitz and Cubism”, New York, Garland Pub., 1978.
  • Van Bork, Bert, “Jacques Lipchitz, The Artist at Work”, New York, Crown Publishers, 1966.
  • Wilkinson, Alan G., “Jacques Lipchitz, A Life in Sculpture, Toronto, Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1989.

Works about

In 2006, a play about Jacques Lipchitz, "All Grace," by Chris Leyva (a third-year U of Iowa MFA student) premiered at the Iowa New Play Festival, in a production directed by Willie Barbour. The play deals with Lipchitz' commission to create a sculpture of the Virgin Mary for a Catholic church and sanitorium in the Alps. "All Grace" received generally favorable notices.

External links

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