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Jacques Lipchitz

(French, 1891-1973)

La Liseuse II

conceived in September 1919; cast by the Modern Art Foundry, Long Island in the 1960s
bronze; edition 1 of 7
height: 75.5 cm (29¾ in.)
inscribed, dated, numbered ‘J Lipchitz Sept 1919 1/7’; marked with the artist’s thumbprint

Bernard J. Reis, New York (acquired from the artist)
McKee Gallery, New York
The Gerald L. Lennard Foundation Collection (acquired from the above on February 24, 1994)

M. Raynal, Jacques Lipchitz, Paris, 1947 (stone version illustrated)
A. G. Wilkinson, The Sculpture of Jacques Lipchitz, A Catalogue Raisonné, Volume One, The Paris Years 1910-1940, London, 1996, pp. 53 & 161, no. 97 (titled Reader II, another cast illustrated)

New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Lipchitz: The Cubist Period 1913-1930, 1968, no. 34 (illustrated)

The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Pierre Levai.

More artworks by Jacques Lipchitz  

Additional Notes:

By 1919, when he executed the stone version of La Liseuse II, Lipchitz had developed an attuned sense of spatial composition influenced by his study of the Cubist works of Picasso, Braque and Gris. The artist was now able to effectively translate his two-dimensional conceptions into a three-dimensional form.

Fascinated by the unique sculptural challenge of representing the female figure in a Cubist manner, Lipchitz created a large number of sculptures based on the human form between the early 1910s and the end of the decade. The first of the series were strictly geometrical while others, like the present work, incorporated arabesques and curved features, giving them an irrepressibly human quality. The present work reflects the large, simplified planes and curved shadows in Gris’ painting done three years earlier, Portrait de Madame Josette Gris (fig. 1). The late 1910s were a period of important transition for the artist when he began to realize the importance of negative space, utilizing the void rather than the volume of the bronze to suggest the head or part of the torso.

Working alongside many of the key Cubist painters in Paris, Lipchitz was naturally drawn to their innovative spirit. Lipchitz’s challenge was to develop a Cubist idiom that translated into three dimensions while retaining a sense of the graphic, non-literal style of representation that he so admired. Discussing his early achievements, Henry R. Hope wrote: "Lipchitz began to show his grasp of the cubists’ analysis and penetration of form. His figures were represented as if seen from many angles and perspectives, often with a richly broken up surface of deep and shallow facets. Yet the subordination of parts to the whole, and the overall effect of agitated movement, conflicting with the sheer, static mass of stone gives these sculptures a quality that is unique in cubist art” (H. R. Hope, The Sculpture of Jacques Lipchitz (exh. cat.), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1954, p. 11).

Other bronze examples of La Liseuse II reside in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, Germany. The stone version (fig. 3) is in the collection of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. 

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