Marin et guitare
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
In this bronze statue by Jacques Lipchitz various angular and semi-circular volumes have been combined to form a work of protruding forms which slide and fit together. Most of the elements cannot be immediately recognized as shapes from reality, though some of the eye-catching details are recognizable. A small, round indentation at the top of the sculpture can be recognized as an eye; a protruding, slightly oval form refers to an ear. The theme of diagonal lines which recur one below the other in three places refers to the strings of a guitar, certainly in connection with the title. This figure has been made as a freestanding sculpture, i.e., it can be viewed from any direction. However, there is clearly one main aspect from which the theme is most recognizable.
By focusing on the recognizable details, the other shapes also become meaningful, even if they cannot be identified exactly. In some cases they have a double role, such as the shape extending to the front and running down from approximately halfway up. About this, Lipchitz said: “The knee has been drawn up as though he was leaping into space. At the same time, the shape of the knee corresponds to the shape of the guitar.” According to Lipchitz, the horizontal lines fairly high up in the sculpture refer to the stripy shirt of a sailor. At the same time, they work as independent elements serving as a counterpart to the guitar strings. The way in which this sculpture is composed follows the principles of Cubism. The forms of a figurative starting point are analyzed, become independent and are then recombined as a new whole in which the theme which was the starting point can still be recognized.
Although the Cubist principles were mainly developed in painting, artists such as Lipchitz and Zadkine also used them in sculpture. The first version of 'Marin et guitare' dating from 1914 was much more realistic than the version shown here. However, Lipchitz turned the theme of “the young Spanish sailor who was dancing gaily around the girls while he is playing a guitar” into a lively figure here because of the rhythmic connection of differing forms, angular next to rounded, protruding and indented. The dynamic character of the sculpture is also reinforced by the diagonal lines which can be seen, amongst other things, in the strings.
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