Druskieniki, Lithuania 1891 - Capri, Italy 1973
Dimensions (HxWxD): 15 x 8 1⁄4 x 6 in.
signed on the base: J.L.
Acc. No.: 1963.2
Credit Line: Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire. Museum Purchase: Currier Funds, 1963.2
Photo credit: ph. courtesy Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire
- New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery
- 1963, Museum Purchase
- Museum's website (August 5 2016)
- 1979 Manchester
Friends of the Currier Gallery of Art: 20 Years of Acquisition, Manchester, Currier Gallery of Art, January 12-February 25 1979
Friends of the Currier Gallery of Art: 25 Years of Acquisition, Manchester, Currier Gallery of Art, January 8-February 12, 1984
Sculpture and Posters from the Collection of the Currier Gallery of Art, Nashua, Rivier College Art Gallery, September 4-October 13 1995
- Museum's website, August 5, 2016:
An important figure in the history of modern sculpture, Jacques Lipchitz transformed his Cubist technique into a new language of free plastic expression. Destined by his father for a career in the family contracting business in Lithuania, Lipchitz chose art instead, and in 1909 he traveled to Paris to study sculpture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian. At first, Lipchitz was attracted to the simple lines of archaic Greek and Egyptian statuary, but in time he was drawn to the avant-garde experiments of such early modern sculptors as Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964) and Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916). In 1913 he was introduced to Cubist leader Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), whose sculpture he initially rejected but later studied closely. Over the next few years, Lipchitz developed a three-dimensional form of Cubism that he pursued through the 1920s. During this period, he began to attract critical attention, receiving commissions from important collectors including Dr. Albert C. Barnes and Vicomte Charles de Noailles. In 1930 the artist held his first retrospective exhibition at the Galerie de la Renaissance in Paris.
About 1930 Lipchitz set aside his Cubist approach in favor of a new idiom that emphasized biomorphic forms and bold extensions into space. Critics welcomed the change, but the artist's status as both a Jew and a highly regarded modern artist made staying in Europe increasingly risky as the Nazis came to power. Forced to flee Paris following the German invasion of France, Lipchitz eventually came to the United States, where he remained for the rest of his life. Much of his later career revolved around the execution of public commissions, including a statue of the Virgin Mary for the church of Notre Dame de Liesse and a major commission for the Fairmount Park Association in Philadelphia. Lipchitz died while visiting Capri, Italy, in 1973.
Dating to 1924, the Currier's Seated Bather exemplifies the later, more individualistic phase of Lipchitz's Cubism. Whereas his earlier work took the sharp angles and discrete facets of Cubism more or less directly from sources in Picasso and Juan Gris (1887-1927), Lipchitz's sculpture of the mid-1920s is marked by a freer, more organic Cubist style that presages his sculpture of the 1930s. Seated Bather is only vaguely suggestive of a figure, yet it embodies curving lines and jointed, volumetric masses that are clearly evocative of human physiology. While he retains the Cubist impulse to reconfigure the viewer's experience of reality, Lipchitz here adjusts Cubism's vocabulary to include more natural-seeming forms. The result is a work that, despite its obvious abstract quality, places less emphasis on the artist's cerebral imposition of planes and angles and becomes a persuasive evocation of a real subject closely and sympathetically observed.
Lipchitz's personal version of humanism distinguishes Seated Bather. For Lipchitz, Cubism was not merely an avant-garde style but a means by which he could convey the dignity and monumentality of humankind: transformed through Cubism, the human figure becomes exceptional and worthy of careful regard. Avoiding the narrative sentiment or dry classicism that might arise from a naturalistic portrayal of the figure, Lipchitz uses his modified Cubist vocabulary to invest his subject with genuine emotional depth. Relatively free from the distracting associations of "realism," the completed work takes on fresh power while remaining accessible to a large audience.
In the summer of 1963 the Currier Museum (then Gallery) of Art hosted a comprehensive exhibition of bronze maquettes, or three-dimensional "sketches" of sculpture, by Jacques Lipchitz. Organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the exhibition undoubtedly inspired the Museum's purchase of Seated Bather a few months later. Then hailed as "a most welcome addition," Seated Bather remains among the earliest and finest examples of modern sculpture in the museum collections.