JACQUES LIPCHITZ (1891-1971)
JACQUES LIPCHITZ (1891-1971)
JACQUES LIPCHITZ (1891-1971)
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JACQUES LIPCHITZ (1891-1971)
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PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN ESTATE
JACQUES LIPCHITZ (1891-1971)

La Liseuse II

Details
JACQUES LIPCHITZ (1891-1971)
La Liseuse II
signed, numbered and marked with artist's thumbprint 'J Lipchitz 4⁄7' (on the back)
bronze with golden brown patina
Height: 30 1⁄4 in. (76.8 cm.)
Conceived in 1919
Provenance
Fine Art Associates (Otto M. Gerson), New York.
Mrs William D. Vogel, Milwaukee, WI (acquired from the above, April 1956).
By descent from the above to the late owner.
Literature
A.G. Wilkinson, The Sculpture of Jacques Lipchitz: A Catalogue Raisonné, The Paris Years, 1910-1940, London, 1996, vol. I, p. 53, no. 97 (another cast illustrated; another cast illustrated again, p. 161).

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Lot Essay

In 1918 Lipchitz embarked on a campaign of creating cubist figure sculptures–bathers, harlequins with various musical instruments, and the present Liseuse, a young woman reading–that sum up in plastic, volumetric terms, the fundamental developments in Cubism that had guided painting since before the First World War. However, these sculptures moreover reflect the new post-war attitude of “the return to order,” a concerted tendency among many artists to employ more classicized, legible form.
To escape the German bombardment of Paris during the summer of 1918, Lipchitz and his wife Berthe had shared a house with Juan and Josette Gris in Beaulieu on the Riviera. Gris was a leading exponent of the “crystalline” phase of cubist painting during the late ‘teens. His insistence on clarity of form influenced the reliefs that Lipchitz modeled during this period (Wilkinson, nos. 70-82). The sculptor probably took note of his friend’s painting Femme assise, 1918 (Cooper, no. 271) while modeling the present figure, as well as his variant version Liseuse I (Wilkinson, no. 94). Gris created his only sculpture, the painted plaster Arlequin, 1917, under Lipchitz’s guidance. “We were all working so intimately together,” Lipchitz recalled, “we could not help taking motifs from one another” (The Documents of 20th Century Art: My Life in Sculpture, New York, 1972, p. 52).
Since 1916 Lipchitz had been under contract with Léonce Rosenberg, the director of the Galerie de L’Effort Moderne, then the leading showcase for cubist art in Paris. Having been previously limited to modeling his sculpture in plaster, Lipchitz could now afford to work in stone and cast in bronze. The location of the stone version of Liseuse I (Wilkinson, no. 93) is unknown; the unique stone carving of Liseuse II (Wilkinson, no. 96) is in the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.
In the classical figure sculptures of 1918-1919, Lipchitz stated he was, “seeking effects that were both rich in their complexity and controlled in their simplicity. Once again I believe that these evoke the living human figure into which the forms were translated, while maintaining the purity of those forms” (ibid., p. 49). He mingled curving planes, “to create effects of interior or negative space,” with a renewed emphasis on frontality. “I was again doing something comparable to the Greek and Egyptian statues which were among my first loves” (ibid., pp. 50 and 51). The sculptor’s conception is monumental in its effect, “there is the illusion that the small works are much larger than they are,” while being “of a scale suitable to fit into a room” (ibid., p. 59).

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