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It Speaks to Me: Nathan Mabry on Jacques Lipchitz’s ‘Figure’ at the Norton Simon Museum

January 11, 2011 |  4:45 pm

M196722S"I’ve always been drawn to this piece -- a prime example of a modernist looking at ethnographic imagery and translating it into avant-garde sculpture. From what I’ve read, Lipchitz was looking at Senufo rhythm pounders from the Ivory Coast, fertility symbols pounded against the ground during rituals.

"When I first saw this piece as a student, it seemed alien and wild to me, and from certain angles completely abstract. But you can also see a standing woman, with an oval head and two eyes on each side. And the more I look, the more sensual and erotic it becomes. For my new gallery show at Cherry and Martin, I sculpted a version of it in clay and cast it in recycled aluminum -- turning it into a fountain that cries from all eyes."

-- Artist Nathan Mabry, as told to Jori Finkel


Image: Jacques Lipchitz's "Figure," 1926-30; bronze, edition of 7, cast No. 2; Norton Simon Art Foundation; © Estate of Jacques Lipchitz /Marlborough Gallery, New York