• Impressionist/ Modern Evening  auction at Christies

    Sale 2311

    Impressionist/ Modern Evening Sale

    4 May 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 40

    Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973)

    Danseuse espagnole

    Price Realised  

    Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973)
    Danseuse espagnole
    signed, numbered, marked with the artist's thumbprint 'JLipchitz 3/7' (on the top of the base)
    bronze with green and black patina
    Height: 27½ in. (70 cm.)
    Conceived in 1914 and cast in the artist's lifetime


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Lipchitz modeled the plaster version of Danseuse espagnole (Barañano, no. 16; Tel Aviv Museum of Art) while on vacation in Spain in the summer of 1914. During the previous year he had become a close friend of the Mexican artist Diego Rivera, who was painting cubist canvases and introduced the sculptor to Picasso. Rivera asked Lipchitz to join him and some friends on a trip to Spain. Lipchitz wrote in his memoir: "In Spain we visited Madrid, where I was immediately excited by the revelation of the great paintings in the Prado, particularly those of El Greco and Goya. I could see at once the relations of El Greco's powerful expressive, angular paintings to cubism. In a different but equally forceful manner I reacted to Goya. These impressions have remained with me for the rest of my life. It was the trip to Spain and all the impressions I gathered there which made me take the final step toward cubism" (My Life in Sculpture, New York, 1972, p. 18).

    While spending time on Mallorca with his friends, Lipchitz made drawings of a sailor serenading a young girl with his guitar. When he was back in Madrid, using materials from artists he had befriended there, he modeled a plaster sculpture, Marin et guitar (B., no. 17; Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterloo). Soon thereafter he created Jeune fille à la tresse (B., no. 19; Musée nationale d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris) and, inspired by a meeting with the renowned bullfighter Joselito, he began Le Toréador, which he completed in Paris the following year (B., no. 18; fig. 1). The outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, marking the beginning of the First World War, prevented Lipchitz, Rivera and their companions from returning to France at the end of the summer as they had planned. They remained in Spain until December, and before he returned to France, Lipchitz executed a fourth plaster on a Spanish subject, Danseuse espagnole (cited above), which served as the model for the present bronze.

    Lipchitz took a constructive approach to his early cubist sculptures, reflecting the synthetic mode seen in cubist painting and collage during this period. In Marin et guitar he noted his interest was in "building up the figure from its abstract forms, not merely simplifying and geometrizing a realistic figure. At the same time I would like to emphasize that I never lost sight of the gay young sailor who first suggested the subject" (ibid.). Lipchitz used block-like units set along a vertical axis to construct the figure of Danseuse espagnole--notice how the hips and pleated segments of her tiered skirt have been stacked slightly off-center to avoid symmetry and add dynamism to her stance. His formal priorities notwithstanding, Lipchitz took pleasure in representing stylized details of local Spanish color; the dancer's costume is complete with abanico (fan), peineta (hair comb) and pañoleta (shawl).

    The sculptor's characterization of the dancer's features creates a powerful impression, and indeed, her large eyes and riveting, frontally directed gaze suggest the primary stylistic influences at work here, which Lipchitz shared at this time with fellow sculptors Modigliani and Zadkine. While one is tempted to read into these features the impact of tribal art, which Lipchitz had already begun to collect by this time, the sculptor preferred to point to other sources: "I was very conscious of the examples of Egyptian and archaic Greek sculpture [which] had many points of relationship in its accent on simplicity and directness. The Egyptians and ancient Greeks also used multiple points of view that the cubists adopted." Lipchitz noted that his cubist sculptures "tended to be flat and frontalized in the manner of Egyptian figures... Thus it is possible to see the many roots of my cubism. In 1915 I was still only twenty-four years old, but I had been studying continually since I came to Paris in 1909 and I now felt I knew exactly what I wanted to do" (ibid., pp. 25-26).

    (fig. 1) Jacques Lipchitz, Le Toréador, plaster, 1914-1915. Tate Gallery, London.

    Provenance

    Estate of the artist.
    Marlborough International Fine Art, Vaduz.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1998.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts: The Collection

    Bernard Goldberg has long been admired as a collector and more recently as a dealer with exceptional taste and a discerning eye. A private collector of American and European art for over forty years, Mr. Goldberg established Bernard Goldberg Fine Arts after a successful career as an attorney and real estate developer. As one of the first boutique hoteliers in New York, he pioneered the practice of displaying museum-quality artworks in his hotels public spaces and private rooms. In 1998, using his personal collection as inspiration, he launched his retail gallery business, focusing on the leading artists of the Ashcan, Urban Realist, Abstract, Social Realist and Regionalist genres of American Art, as well as superb examples of 20th century design. Featuring over 160 exceptional items from the collections of Mr. Goldberg's New York gallery, highlights of the sales include paintings, sculpture and works on paper by Jacques Lipchitz, Edward Steichen, Elie Nadelman, Marsden Hartley, and Guy Pène du Bois, among others, as well as 20th century decorative items by George Washington Maher, Gustav Stickley, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Samuel Yellin.

    "In my passion as a collector I have often disregarded the economics of resale typically employed by a dealer. What I have purchased for my gallery are in effect mirror images of my personal collection and I have always delighted in the excitement of discovering, researching and acquiring new works of art. As a collector and as a dealer I strove to get the best, so I was often willing to take risks on prices and to explore new genres that were not necessarily popular at the time. These auctions present a unique opportunity for collectors around the world to acquire a superb range of works that I have selected over time, with a passion for quality and aesthetics."


    Literature

    A.G. Wilkinson, The Sculpture of Jacques Lipchitz, A Catalogue Raisonné, The Paris Years 1910-1940, New York, 1996, vol. I, pp. 40 and 214, no. 18 (another cast illustrated).
    K. de Barañano, Jacques Lipchitz: the plasters, a catalogue raisonné, 1911-1973, Bilbao, 2009, p. 80, no. 16 (plaster version illustrated).