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 50 Years/50 Artworks      

20.
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Jacques Lipchitz
(American, 1891–1973)
Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Luth
1965
cast bronze, 9’ high (18’ with base)
Gift of the Ordean Fund and Mrs. E. L. Tuohy

The will of Albert L. Ordean, a prominent Duluth banker and civic leader, specified that a fund be dedicated to erect “a fine, artistic bronze statue” of Daniel Greysolon Sieur du Luth, the French explorer after whom the city was named, “to be made by some sculptor of note.” Thirty years after Ordean’s death, the trustees of that fund chose none other than Jacques Lipchitz, one of the leading sculptors of the 20th century, to complete the commission. Unveiled on November 5, 1965, the nine-foot high sculpture of du Luth graces the entrance to the Tweed Museum of Art on a column of Minnesota granite, overlooking Ordean Court on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth. Cast in Pietrasanta, Italy, the finished sculpture was shipped to the midwest through the Saint Lawrence Seaway, taking roughly the same route du Luth travelled some 280 years earlier. With no likenesses of
du Luth to guide him, Lipchitz created, in his words, “a builder, a man who looks at a place and says, ‘This is where I want a city.’” Lipchitz spent two years working on the commission, creating numerous small sketches in plaster and bronze, two of which are also owned by the Tweed Museum of Art. The final sculpture captures du Luth dramatically gesturing toward Lake Superior. True to du Luth’s role as a mediator between the Lake Superior Ojibwe and the trade interests of the French government, Lipchitz costumed him in an Indian jacket, French Louis XIV plumed hat and peruke (wig), a sword at his side and a rolled document in hand.

Lipchitz was born in 1891 in Lithuania, moved to Paris in 1909, and, like many Jewish artists, emigrated to the U.S. in 1941, barely escaping the Nazi occupation of France by a matter of hours. During his thirty years in France, Lipchitz worked closely with Picasso and Juan Gris, and like them, he is credited with the development and refinement of Cubism. Revolutionarily modern at that time, the style forever changed the way we view painting and sculpture, by reducing form to geometric planes and solids. By the time he left France, Lipchitz was gradually moving toward the use of organic versus geometric forms and mythological versus everyday themes. Sieur du Luth stands as an important late work in which the artist has synthesized fact and myth, as well as Cubistic abstraction and naturalism.

 
 
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