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Jacques Lipchitz

Biographies
Jacques Lipchitz

*  1891 Druskieniki/Litauen
† 1973 Capri


Chaim Jakob Lipchitz was born in Druskieniki, Lithuania, on 22 August 1891. Although his father, a Jewish building contractor, did not want him to study art, Lipchitz went to Paris in 1909, began to call himself Jacques and enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian. Lipchitz's contacts with Archipenko, Picasso and Cubist circles exerted a paramount influence on his work: in 1913 he produced his first Cubist sculpture. Lipchitz had his first one-man show in 1920 at the Léonce Rosenberg Gallery in Paris. Two years later Jacques Lipchitz joined the 'Esprit Nouveau' group. Between 1915 and 1925 Lipchitz worked in stone, hewing Cubist sculptures with figures and heads reduced to simple, block-like forms and partly polychrome. In 1925 Lipchitz embarked on a series of 'transparent' sculptures permeated by space and cast in the cire perdu process. With them Lipchitz detached hmself from the Cubist formal language. Angular structures yielded to an unconstrained sculptural style expressed in the free use of natural forms that became increasingly organic. In 1930 Lipchitz had his first retrospective, at the Galerie de la Renaissance in Paris, and in 1935 a large exhibition at the Brummer Gallery in New York, his first in the US. Lipchitz completed his 'Prometheus' for the 1937 Paris Exhibition and was awarded a gold medal for it. When German troops occupied Paris in 1940, Lipchitz fled to Toulouse but soon left France for the US, where he settled in New York. There his work was shown regularly at the Buchholz Gallery, which later became the Curt Valentin Gallery. In 1947 Lipchitz moved to Hastings-on-Hudson in New York state. From the 1950s Lipchitz's was honoured by numerous exhibitions and prizes. There were Lichitz retrospectives in New York and Minneapolis in 1954; Lipchitz showed work at documenta in Kassel (1959 and 1964) and his work toured Europe in a large exhibition in 1958. From 1962 Lipchitz executed numerous public commissions on a grand scale in both the US and Israel, including 'Peace on Earth', a bronze sculpture nearly 15 m high that was unveiled in Los Angeles in 1969. Jacques Lipchitz died on Capri on 16 May 1973 and was buried in Jerusalem. In 1978 his second wife, the Berlin sculptor Y. Halberstadt, completed the colossal sculpture 'Our Tree of Life', which had been commissioned for Mount Scopus, Israel, and was set up on Jerusalem's highest hill.