The Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents for the first time in Russia an extensive solo exhibition of Jacques Lipchitz, a major personality in the 20th century sculpture, a foremost figure in the School of Paris, a close friend of Amedeo Modigliani, Chaïm Soutine and Pablo Picasso. The project is a part of the 70th anniversary celebration of the Israel State foundation.
The artistic oeuvre of Jacques Lipchitz can now be found in different countries, forming part of best world museum and private collections. His solo exhibitions’ story started in 1920, while his retrospective shows’ record dates back to 1936. A Soviet art historian Abram Efros defined Lipchitz’s artworks as ‘the highest point, the climax of Russian integration’ into the western art world. The exhibition at the MMOMA will introduce the Moscow public to the art of one of the most significant sculptors of the 20th century. Besides, it will be a historic event for the world art scene, and rightfully so, as Lipchitz, a Franco-American artist of Jewish origin, was born in the Russian Empire, and now an extensive display of his works will be open in Russia for the first time ever.
The project ‘Jacques Lipchits (1891-1973). A Retrospective’ is a progressive immersion into the creation of the artist whose oeuvre is intrinsically connected with the crucial events of the 20th century that overturned the very course of the world history. Progressing through the display, the viewer witnesses the changes in the style of Lipchitz’s works, as he/she ‘lives through’ the epoch. The artist’s manner evolves from naturalistic traditions to Cubism, and then to a less formalised style of his urban sculptures, which dwell on the complex mixture of mythological and religious motifs. The Cubist traditions are coherently expressed in Lipchitz’s artworks. If he developed the basics of Cubist sculptural vocabulary at the beginning of his artistic career, later on the artist used these practices to create his unique plastic style, his music of space. Over 100 works displayed at the MMOMA, including sculptures, drawings in Indian ink, crayons and pencil, form a meditation on the existential expression of the 20th century sculpture, its place in the present-day culture and the milieu where the artist formed over the period of his career. Geometric studies and sketches, commissioned artworks, and Cubist sculptures go together with works on paper, including drawings of independent design. The dynamical rhythm of the display is supplied not only by Lipchitz’s artwork but as well by the fragments from his diaries, photos and objects.
The art of Lipchitz can be divided into several periods. Thus, during his Paris period, the artist created the portraits of Coco Chanel and Annie Dalsace, iconic figures of his time, and writers, including Jean Cocteau and Raymond Radiguet, whereas during his American period he portrayed different academic and financial figures. The MMOMA exhibition includes a sculptural portrait of an American writer Gertrude Stein (1938), a bust of the US president John Kennedy (1964), one of a French writer Raymond Radiguet (1920), as well as a portrait of the artist’s wife Yulla Lipchitz (1956).
In 1924 Lipchitz became the citizen of France, he lived in his studio near Paris built on the project by Le Corbusier. With the advent of Hitler, Lipchitz turned to political and moral issues of the time. He expressed his dispirited mood in symbolical, biblical and mythological motifs, such as Jacob and Angel (1931), David and Goliath (1933 г.), Rape of Europe II (1938 г.) and Theseus (1942 г.), all displayed at the MMOMA show. The political message underlies his oeuvre Prometheus Strangling the Vulture, a commission of the French Government for the pediment of the Palais de la Découverte (Pavilion of Science) at the Exposition Internationale in Paris. The struggle of the titan and the vulture became a recurrent motif in Lipchitz’s sculpture, which he would repeatedly turn back to during his artistic career. After the World War II the artist went on working on his sculptural interpretation of the battle between Prometheus and the eagle (Prometheus Strangling the Vulture, second variant, 1944-53) and created a monumental sculpture of the Virgin for the Church in Assy (France). Since 1946 he lived in the USA.
Jack Lipchitz returned to Europe not long before his death, which took place on May, 27th 1973 on the Isle of Capri.
The exhibition at the MMOMA is more than just a retrospective view of Lipchitz’s art, from his first oeuvres in Paris to his last projects in Israel. It is a unique opportunity to see the development of sculpture as media through the 20th century. The display will be accompanied by guided tours and educational programmes for both adults and kids. The schedule of exhibition events is featured on the MMOMA website: mmoma.ru.