Arlequin à la Mandoline (Harlequin's Mandolin)
(French American, 1891-1973)
Signed J Lipchitz
Marked with the artist's thumbprint and numbered 1/7
Bronze with a dark patina
Height: 25 3/4" (65.4 cm)
Conceived in 1920. This example cast within the artist's lifetime
Edition 1 of 7
Jacques Lipchitz (1891–1973) is one of the principal exponents of cubist sculpture. Born Chaim Jakob Lipchitz in Lithuania, then part of the USSR, he travelled to Paris in 1909, and enrolled at the Académie Julian. Having previously known Archipenko, he quickly became part of the circle of Picasso and the Cubists in Monmartre and Montparnasse, and knew numerous important artists of the period such as Gris, Braque, and Modiglinai, who would all have considerable influence on his work.
By 1913 he had produced his first Cubist sculptures and in 1920 critical success led to his first solo exhibition at the Paris gallery Rosenberg. The period from 1913-1925 saw the majority of his cubists sculptures – often worked in stone and partly coloured, the most popular of the works were often cast in editions.
When German troops occupied Paris in 1940, Lipchitz fled to Toulouse. He soon left France and went to the US, settling in New York. Lipchitz's work was honoured with numerous awards and exhibitions, such as retrospectives ranging from the MOMA, NY, The Walker Museum, Minneapolis, to The Cleveland Musuem of Art in 1954.
Lipchitz took part to ‘documenta’ in Kassel twice (in 1959 and 1964). From 1962 onwards, Lipchitz received numerous important public commissions both in the US and Israel, including "Peace on Earth", a nearly fifteen-meter-high bronze sculpture that was unveiled in Los Angeles in 1969.
Lipchitz described his work as 'abstract architectural sculptures', commenting that: 'building up and composing the idea of a human figure from abstract sculptural elements of line, plane and volume'. This indicates that, in spite of its abstraction, the work was based on the upper part of a human figure, seated at a table. Lipchitz would have made an original clay model of the work, which a professional stone-carver would probably copy to produce the final work.
Conceived in 1920, Arlequin à la Mandoline is a full-length sculpture of a standing figure playing the mandolin, exemplifying the artist's exploration of Cubism in the round. The work – a figure with musical instruments – links to other artists of the period in subject matter. Taking his initial two-dimensional experimentations as a starting point, Lipchitz was able to translate effectively his concepts into three-dimensional forms. In doing so, he created a sculptural language that was key to the whole of the Cubist movement.