For Jaques Lipchitz, the subject-matter he felt compelled to explore and the relationship with his material were bother characterised by struggle throughout his life. His maquettes mark the moment of capturing an inspiration, yet they deceptively conceal countless iterations that failed to reflect his ideas.
Unusually for a sculptor, Lipchitz preserved many of these 'failed' models, even going as far as to cast around 180 of them in bronze after moving to America in 1941, covering the evolution of his ideas throughout his career. These maquettes highlight some of Lipchitz's most important themes, and trace the connections between them.
In this essay, Cathy Pütz uncovers the hidden steps that took Lipchitz from one monumental work to the next, revealing the continuity in a career that spanned a variety of styles. She considers Lipchitz's idea of 'the encounter' from two perspectives, first exploring formal issues and the nature of the struggle with his material, and moving on to look at the way in which Lipchitz used the them of the encounter, of light versus darkness, for social and political statement.
This essay was written to accompany the exhibition Survivals from a Sculptor's Studio: Jacques Lipchitz (1891 - 1973) (18 March - 29 April 1999, Gallery 4).
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