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Seated FigureEnlarge image

Seated Figure, 1916

Jacques Lipchitz
Russian, French, 1891 - 1973
limestone
77.2 x 29.1 x 26 cm
Purchased 1955
National Gallery of Canada (no. 6426)

After meeting Pablo Picasso in 1913 and seeing the potential of Cubism, Jacques Lipchitz abandoned his former naturalistic Art Nouveau style and moved towards the exploration of living forms in free-standing Cubist sculptures. "Seated Figure" is composed of geometric and abstracted shapes, but its human form is nonetheless still legible. As the artist explained: "I was seeking an extreme simplification of solid, massive forms. Although I think it is a successful piece, I may have felt at that time that it was carried too far in the direction of austere abstraction."

Provenance 

by 1953/12 – 1955/02/11.

Curt Valentin Gallery (Curt Valentin, 1902–1954), New York, N.Y., USA [1]

1955/02/11 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from the Curt Valentin Gallery [2]

Notes 

[1] The sculpture was included in the exhibition “Sculpture and Sculptors'Drawings.” [Curt Valentin Gallery, New York, December 22, 1953 to January 24, 1954, cat. no 26, repr.]. On two handwritten lists by Curt Valentin the work is marked “N.Y. CV” for “New York, Curt Valentin” [Curt Valentin Papers, CV I.69. and I. 69, the Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York]. The sculpture apparently came from Valentin's private collection. As is apparent from the correspondence between the two, Valentin had known Lipchitz for many years and supported him financially after his move from France to the United States during WW2. In exchange for his support, Lipchitz paid his debts with artworks. In May 1954, Lipchitz signed an exclusive contract with Valentin [Curt Valentin Papers, III.A.18, The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York]. It is likely that Seated Figure was acquired directly from the artist.

[2] Accession log [NGC curatorial file].

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