Jacques Lipchitz, Tuscany’s Great Jewish Sculptor

In the second and third decades of the 20th century, Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973) was considered one of the leading practitioners of Cubist sculpture; as his style evolved later on, and until his death, he continued to produce celebrated works. Dovid Margolin writes:

The [sculptor], born Chaim Yaakov Lipchitz in the resort town of Druskininkai, today in Lithuania [and then in Russia], spent the pre-World War II years in Paris, where he was friends with Pablo Picasso, posed for Amedeo Modigliani (whom he introduced to Chaim Soutine), and met Ernest Hemingway at one of the parties he regularly attended at the home of Gertrude Stein (although back then he didn’t know enough English, or Hemingway enough French, to communicate).

He escaped from Paris just before the Germans marched in, eventually making his way to New York. Lipchitz made his first visit to Tuscany in 1962, drawn by the millennia-old marble quarries of Carrara—“Michelangelo’s territory” he called it—and the foundry of Luigi Tommasi in Pietrasanta. He and his wife spent six weeks there, with almost all of the artist’s time consumed by work, going from the place he was staying to the foundry and back. “I didn’t see anything [of] Italy,” he said.

But he was smitten, with the work [and] with the place, and told his wife, Yulla, that they had to return. Unable to find [a workspace he could rent, he purchased what he described as] “a very beautiful house.” The renaissance structure, formally known as Villa Orsucci di Bozzio, sometimes spelled Villa Bosio, stands . . . overlooking the town of Camaiore and offering stunning views of the Tuscan countryside. Lipchitz set up shop there, working on smaller pieces in his indoor studio, and larger ones in the field outside.

Late in life, Lipchitz returned to Jewish religious observance, and in accordance with his wishes, his Tuscan estate is now used as an Orthodox summer camp.

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More about: Arts & Culture, East European Jewry, Italian Jewry

No, Israelis and Palestinians Can’t Simply Sit Down and Solve the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict”

Jan. 17 2019

By “zooming out” from the blinkered perspective with which most Westerners see the affairs of the Jewish state, argues Matti Friedman, one can begin to see things the way Israelis do:

Many [in Israel] believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened . . . in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors . . . into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. . . .

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea—“like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation—if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunnis and Shiites; between majority populations and minorities. If [Israel’s] small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East