School of Modigliani 2
| Image Notes
Amadeo Modigliani (1884-1920).
Nude figure on desk: Modigliani,Reclining Nude, 1917, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin.
View through the window: Modigliani,Landscape in the Midi, 1918.
Two figures behind teacher's desk: Modigliani,Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz, 1916, The Art Institute of Chicago.
On the blackboard to the right of the head of Lipchitz George Deem prints L I P C H I T Z in block letters, as Modigliani did in his double portrait. He omits Modigliani's signature which appears to the right of the block letters in Modigliani's painting.
In 1916, having just signed a contract with Lonce Rosenberg, the dealer, I had a little money. I was also newly married, and my wife and I decided to ask Modigliani to make our portrait. "My price is ten francs a sitting and a little alcohol" he replied when I asked him to do it.(Jacques Lipchitz).
(Modigliani's) Jacques and Berthe Lipchitzis both a complex and fascinating work and an ironic commentary on the personal lives and professional careers of these two immigrant artists.
In the wedding portrait, the Lithuanian-born sculptor and his recent bride, a Russian poet named Berthe Kitrosser, are portrayed in their flat at 54 rue du Montparnasse, the former residence of Constantin Brancusi. Set against Modigliani's characteristic backdrop of interior architectural forms are two distinctly different individuals. Smartly attired, Lipchitz stands casually, one hand at his wife's shoulder, the other thrust into his pants pocket. If the sculptor's pose is comfortable, the expression Modigliani assigned to Lipchitz is proud, even haughty. Indeed, Modigliani's portrait virtually assaults Lipchitz: the large ears, small pursed lips, narrow squinting eyes, and, in particular, the wickedly twisted nose, all combine to aggressively caricature the sculptor.
The unflattering nature of this image is particularly evident when compared with Modigliani's portrayal of Berthe Kitrosser. Hers is obviously the more endearing likeness, as the gentle, eloquent lines of her face emerge gracefully from her husband's coat. In contrast to the eccentric delineation of Lipchitz's face, Madame Lipchitz is characterized by a harmonious weave of contrasting curves, one echoing and balancing another. In her large downturned eyes, elegantly elongated nose, large fleshy lips, and long graceful neck, she radiates a sensuality that is absent from Modigliani's image of her husband.
Neal Benezra, "A Study in Irony: Modigliani's Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz," JSTOR: Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2 (1986), pp. 188-199.
Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York
Las Vegas Art Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Branson School, Ross, California
Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana