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Jan 19 2016

OPENING OF THE PERMANENT DISPLAY "THE JACQUES LIPCHITZ ROOM"

Posted by admin22 on Jan 19 2016

This article appears on the Hermitage Museum website

On 8 December 2015, during the Hermitage Days – 2015, in the General Staff building the permanent display of the Jacques Lipchitz Room, prepared by the State Hermitage’s Department of Contemporary Art, was opened.

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As Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, stressed: “Today we are opening the room of one of the 20th century’s foremost sculptors – Jacques Lipchitz. This is one of the greatest gifts for the museum’s jubilee. All the Hermitage displays are special: they should not repeat other museums. In all museums around the world the displays of contemporary art are the same, but we have so far managed to avoid doing one and the same thing, what everybody else does.” Ten sculptures and 13 drawings were donated to the Hermitage by the Jacques and Yulla Lipchitz Foundation with the active involvement of the Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA). Mikhail Piotrovsky presented an honorary certificate from the State Hermitage to the Jacques and Yulla Lipchitz Foundation for its support of the museum’s programmes.

Jacques Lipchitz (1891–1973) was an outstanding French and American sculptor whose work heralded a fundamental change in the perception of artistic forms and became, along with the works of Pablo Picasso and Mark Chagall, one of the symbols of modern art. Lipchitz was born in the town of Druskininkai in Lithuania. More than once, the circumstances of his life forced him to change his place of residence. From Poland, where he went to school, in 1909 he moved to Paris in order to obtain an artistic education in the Académie Julian. Then in 1941, when he was already a recognized artist, he was forced to emigrate to the United States, where he lived until his death in 1973. The artist was obliged to leave all his works in occupied France and only years later did he manage to recover his archive.

Lipchitz’s artistic method was founded upon the classical tradition of the 19th century: the sculptor worked in several stages. First he worked up his graphic sketch in clay, then in plaster, and only then in stone or bronze. With time, a subtle grasp of the characteristics of his materials and attention to technique, as well as great mastery, enabled Lipchitz to push back the boundaries of this classical approach and to apply it to new forms. It is this that accounts for the variety of his artistic legacy: terracottas, plaster pieces, graphic art, stone and bronze sculptures make it possible to trace the evolution of subject motifs and gradual changes of style – from laconic Cubism to Expressionism and works created in the “semi-automatic” technique.

On display in the Jacques Lipchitz Room in the State Hermitage are graphic art and sculptures that not only reflect various stages in the artist’s oeuvre, but also make it possible to get an idea of his methods of working with various materials, techniques and themes. In the sculptural group Jacob and the Angel (1931), where the influence of Cubism is still evident, the artist’s interest in the formal aspect of the depiction of two interacting figures – embrace or struggle – supplements his interest in the Old Testament story. Lipchitz would turn repeatedly to biblical subjects and classical mythology throughout his life.

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Other important, but far more personal, images for the artist were those of the mother and child, in which themes connected with the artist’s biography found expression — family, moves, the search for a home, through which liberation is perceived and the search for oneself. One such work is The Return of the Child (1941–46), the first sketches for which were made as far back as 1933. In his diaries Lipchitz noted that the child symbolizes his sculpture as a whole.

Inspiration (1955) is one of the later works created in the technique that the artist himself called “semi-automatic”. Here is a passage from his memoirs: “As I recounted earlier, my assistant, Isadore Grossman, one day came to me in a fury, saying that the teacher had been talking about modern sculpture and a girl had asked him what he thought of the sculpture of Lipchitz. The teacher had had a lump of clay in his hands and had let it fall on the floor, where it splattered, saying that that was a Lipchitz. I only said, ‘That is a rather interesting idea. I think I might try to make some such sculptures.’ So arose the idea of the semi-automatics, in which I would just splash or squeeze a piece of warm wax in my hands, put it in a basin of water without looking at it, and then let it harden in cold water. When I took it out and examined it, the lump suggested many different images to me. Automatically a particular image would emerge several times and this I would choose to develop and clarify. Up to this point my acts were purely automatic; from here on they were completely conscious.” (Jacques Lipchitz and H.H. Arnason, My Life in Sculpture, 1972, pp. 193f)

The sculptor’s portrait works are represented by two examples, the early Portrait of Géricault (1933) and the late Bust of Kennedy (1964–65). The image of the French artist Théodore Géricault, the painter of the famous Raft of the Medusa, particularly interested Lipchitz. He produced several variants of this portrait – from the maximally realistic one in the display to an expressionistic version. The bust of American president John F. Kennedy was commissioned by a student organization in London and later repeated for the city of Newark, New Jersey.

Particularly interesting in the display are the artist’s graphic sketches that not only provide an idea of an important stage in the work on a sculpture, but also show the great sculptor as a draughtsman.

The permanent display of The Jacques Lipchitz Room has been created in the General Staff building as part of the Hermitage 20/21 project that aims to collect, exhibit and study art of the 20th and 21st centuries. The new display splendidly supplements the already functioning Ilya Kabakov and Dmitry Prigov Rooms.


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New York, October 21, 2015—Torkom Demirjian, Chairman of the Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA), announced the donation and delivery to the State Hermitage Museum in Russia of a rare collection of plasters and drawings by legendary Cubist sculptor Jacques Lipchitz. The important donation was made by Hanno Mott, Esq., noted art law counsel and stepson of the artist, on behalf of the Jacques & Yulla Lipchitz Foundation based in New York. A grant by Jonathan Rosen and family made delivery of the Cubist platers and drawings possible. The Hermitage Museum will display the Lipchitz sculptures and drawings in a separate room of its General Staff Building and will celebrate the opening of the exhibit in October with a later ceremony in New York with the Hermitage Museum Foundation and the Jacques and Yulla Lipchitz Foundation.

Video: Jacques Lipchitz recounts first visit to Hermitage Museum (Courtesy of the Israel Museum): click here to view

"Under the Hermitage Museum's aegis, the Jacques Lipchitz plasters and drawings will offer penetrating insights into one of the pillars of the Cubist art movement and the 20th Century Avant-Garde to a broad international public. We are humbled by the generosity of Hanno Mott, son of the artist's late widow Yulla Lipchitz and the critical support of Jonathan Rosen and his family," Commented Torkom Demirjian, Chairman of the Hermitage Museum Foundation. "As a Russian émigré to America via France, the Lipchitz gift embodies the spirit of our Foundation's Art from America initiative with the Hermitage Museum and the unbreakable ties of culture between our two countries," he added.

On Jacques Lipchitz— by Kosme de Barañano
Jacques Lipchitz (Druskieniki, Lithuania, 1891 - Capri, Italy, 1973) was a key figure in the Cubist movement and in the artistic panorama of the 20th century avant-garde, as are Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque or Julio González. These artists coincided with Lipchitz in Paris in the first two decades of that century, sharing concerns and projects and laying the foundations of the Cubist vocabulary in painting and sculpture. Cubism is a door, which opens onto not only a style but also a philosophy of looking at space to subsequently shape it in one's own way. In 1914, Lipchitz met Picasso through Diego Rivera and in 1915 he met Juan Gris. His first cubist work dates from 1914, Sailor with Guitar. In 1916 Modigliani painted his portrait with his first wife now in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jacques Lipchitz's work is present in practically every museum in the world, from the Metropolitan Museum in New York to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, to the Tate Gallery in London to the Museum of Rotterdam. His public work is in cities such as Philadelphia, Rome, Paris, London, Los Angeles, and elsewhere.

This great artist who had to emigrate in 1909 from Lithuania to France and then in 1941 from there to the United States, always took his ideas and talent with him. His work not only speaks of exiles but also of the misfortunes of man (in the mid 1950's, his New York studio burned down) and above all of man's recoveries, with references both to Greek mythology and to the Old Testament. In his personal cocktail shaker of forms, Lipchitz returns to the images of different religious traditions to create a poem, visual in his case, like lyrical mysticism that transcends the usual meaning of words in search of the ineffable, of a transcendental sculptural experience.

This very personal language of interacting forms, which Lipchitz developed, constitutes his style and is detected immediately. It goes beyond the literal sense of the characters of Scripture or the Mythology by connecting and binding his unique sculpture, a figuration that is not as abrupt as it might appear at first glance, and which gradually reveals itself to the gaze, creating formal movement with bodies.

The sense of movement created by the interpenetration of forms and volumes, the feeling of lightness and of weight, the kinds of schematic narrative and the monumental scale, speak to us, in their difficult yet attractive forms, of the force of human action and of the struggle for a better, more sincere world.

There is in the life of Jacques Lipchitz, a cosmopolitan and tireless traveler, a great desire to transcend boundaries with his art, a longed-for and desired universality in his artistic evangelization, which expresses many themes always in dialogue with current experiences. It is a sculpture to look at and meditate on at the same time.

Lipchitz was in contact with the best architects of the day and had good studios one on the outskirts of Paris designed and built by Le Corbusier in 1922-24 and then in Hastings on the Hudson, outside of New York City, built by Martin Lowenfish in 1952.


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New York, July 31, 2015 – The Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA) announced that Torkom Demirjian, one of the world’s leading authorities on ancient art and antiquities and founder of the Ariadne Galleries in New York and London, has assumed the role of Chairman of the Board of the Hermitage Museum Foundation (HMF) in the United States. Mr. Demirjian succeeds former Chairman Paul Rodzianko, who stepped down in March after seven years of service heading the Foundation.

HMF President Peter Schaffer said, “We are thrilled that Torkom Demirjian has agreed to lead the foundation. He is a globally distinguished expert and philanthropist who has already made important donations to the Hermitage Museum and a longstanding board member.” Mr. Schaffer added, “The Foundation is fortunate to enter a new phase with a recognized leader in the museum and gallery world at its helm.”

Commented Hermitage Museum Foundation Chairman Torkom Demirjian, “I assume the chairman's role with optimism and a strong belief that helping such a great institution in Russia can only have a beneficial effect on the relationship between our countries. The Hermitage Museum, often under very difficult circumstances and in a heroic fashion, has maintained a vital role in global cultural preservation in addition to its mandate of educating and enlightening the public.” He added, “The American philanthropic community has generously supported Russian cultural institutions in the past. I have great faith that the American tradition of voluntarism will benefit the Hermitage Museum as it has so many museums and cultural institutions throughout the world.”

About Torkom Demirjian

Torkom Demirjian is founder and chairman of the family run Ariadne Galleries in New York and London specializing in the art of the ancient civilizations of Egypt, the Near East, Greece, Rome, Asia, as well as early medieval Europe.

Mr. Demirjian is a graduate of the Pratt Art Institute in New York. His childhood passion for history and art led to his love of antiquities. A self-taught specialist and art dealer since 1972, he is highly regarded by colleagues around the world for his expertise, sense of history, astute aesthetic judgment, and business acumen. Mr. Demirjian believes strongly in the vital role museums play in the preservation of cultural heritage.

Mr. Demirjian has contributed to leading museum, university and legal panels, conferences and publications, globally. He has been widely interviewed in the media and on television, including on CBS’ 60 Minutes. He has always sought to increase interest in and knowledge of ancient cultures among collectors and the public and has encouraged contributions to museums by his own example. During the last four decades, he has donated both important collections and individual works of art to major museums around the world including the Hermitage Museum, the Israel Museum, among others.


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