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 Boris Lovet-Lorski  (1894 - 1973)

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Lived/Active: New York/California / Lithuania      Known for: sculpture-abstract nudes, horses, portrait

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Boris Lovet-Lorski
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Sculptor and graphic artist Boris Lovet-Lorski (1894-1973) was born in Lithuania. He studied at the Imperial Academy of Art in St. Petersburg and moved to the United States in 1920, settling in New York City.  He became an American citizen in 1925.

Boris Lovet-Lorski's sculpted heads have been described as sensitive, idealized and classically stylized with simplified, atmospheric forms and staring, pupil-less eyes, that yet capture the individual look and feeling of the sitter.  Some viewers perceive an Egyptian influence.

The sculptor is noted for bronze female figures with impossibly narrow, boyish hips, and bodies broadening as they rise to the shoulders and wide-spread arms held behind their heads like flowers on a stem.  These women were created by the artist to be mechanized, gleaming and streamlined like the latest airplanes, motorcars and other machines worshiped by 20th-Century technology and finding particular expression in Art Deco.

A tiny six-inch high plaster head of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is an exception to this rule.  Obviously made from life, around 1940, it is a quite realistically wrinkled and gouged character study, with FDR weary and squinting, his facial features sliding out of sync under the burden of his duties and world affairs on the brink of the catastrophe of World War II.

Lovet-Lorski's later attempt, 1955-60, at a presidential portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower, is less realistic.  The 12-inch plaster head does not capture the general's likeness, but the sculptor, given the pressure of the duties of office, may not have been given enough time to search out and develop the features and character of Ike's too narrow, elongated head.  Or, perhaps the artist's creative luck of the moment did not enable him to move beyond a vague conception of the President's face.

Lovet-Lorski's eight-foot high, rather oddly frontal, expressionless, bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln in Decatur, Illinois, was unveiled on September 8, 1946.  It depicts Lincoln as a young lawyer addressing a jury. Lincoln had attended sessions of court in Decatur during the early years of his practice.

While Boris Lovet-Lorski's portrait drawings are related, not surprisingly, to the style of his sculptured heads, his drawings of figures and animals are very much in the Cubist-inspired, Art Deco modernist style of the 1920s and 30s. Works like A Nude with a Horse, charcoal, 9 x 12, and Adam and Eve, charcoal, 11 x 11, epitomize this latter aspect, with the figures in the second work, a compositional sketch or study, cursorily drawn in simplistic terms on either side of a crucifixion-like figure that is more like a modern technological Zeus or Mercury than Christian God or Christ.  His Study of a Woman's Head, watercolor and ink, 17 x 11, is more developed, relating to his sculpture of individuals.


Sources include:
http://www.keithsheridan.com/lovet-lorski.html
http://borghi.org/lorski/lorski.html
http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/art/lovet.htm


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Russia on Dec. 25, 1894. Lovet-Lorski studied architecture at the Royal Academy in St Petersburg. Events leading to the Russian Revolution led him to the U.S. in 1913. He was active in New York and fulfilled American commissions in Paris before settling in Beverly Hills in 1931. He carved many stylized portraits of local celebrities in stone and marble. After arthritis crippled his hands, making the use of hammer and chisel impossible, he turned to sculpting works in clay which were later cast in bronze. His portrait busts include those of Albert Schweitzer, Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. He was world famous at the time of his death in NYC on March 4, 1973. Member: NA; NSS; Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. Exh: Sterner Gallery (NYC), 1923; Renaissance Gallery (Santa Barbara), 1931; Wildenstein Gallery (NYC), 1931; Stendahl Gallery (LA), 1932, 1935; Faulkner Gallery (Santa Barbara), 1935; Whitney Museum (NYC), 1940; Hatfield Gallery (LA), 1942; Nicholson Gallery (Pasadena), 1942; LACMA, 1943; Finch College, (NYC), 1972; SFMA, 1981. In: MM; Camp Callan (Gen. MacArthur); LACMA; San Diego Museum; Seattle Museum; Rockford (IL) Museum; British Museum; Luxembourg Museum and Petit Palais (Paris); Lincoln Memorial (Decatur, IL); Dulles Airport (John Foster Dulles).
Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Who's Who in American Art 1936-70; NY Times, 3-5-1973 (obituary).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Abby M Taylor Fine Art:
“He does not seem to exhaust himself on any subject, but in every case you are given all the beauty and strange calm that marble so wonderfully lends itself to expressing…a curious combination of old Greek simplicity and Russian intensity.”

The unique style of Boris Lovet-Lorski was a mix of Modern, Tribal, Oriental, Archaic, and Teutonic.  He approached sculpture as a means of transcending life's transient and often painful experiences.  His Slavic background and eclectic borrowing from the past helped temper his modernism with a lyricism and a sense of mystery.

Trained as an architect at the Royal Academy in Petrograd, Boris Lovet-Lorski was very aware of volume and structural space.  His architectural background combined with other influences like the flattened aesthetic of Art Deco, produce a distinctly original style.  Along with his idealized subjects, the originality and artistry of his design quickly won the young sculptor critical acclaim and led to his first one-man show in Boston in 1925, the year he became an American citizen.  He was then invited to teach at the Milwaukee Art Institute and developed a reputation there that he carried with him to New York where he exhibited on a regular basis with the Wildenstein Gallery starting in 1928.

Lovet-Lorski’s biography is carved into his sculpture: his Russian childhood can be perceived in the angled Slavic eyes of Head of a Woman; the burnished sheen of Venus is reminiscent of the prized gold leaf used in Eastern Orthodox icons; American attitudes of industrial progress and the celebration of technology are revealed in highly stylized and sleek, almost futuristic lines.  The energy of the avant-garde that congregated in Paris is reflected in the modernism of his design.  And the time he spent in Hollywood in the 1930s where he was a favorite among actors and musicians lent his reputation a glamorous flair.

Lovet-Lorski was known for working in prized, rare, and unusual materials ranging from onyx and jade to wood from a 600-year old Assyrian lemon tree.  He patterned the subjects of his sculptures to suit the nature of the material. The Belgian black marble of Head of a Woman is a dark and impenetrable stone that complements the inscrutable features of the figure. God Unknown, one of his most well-known works, employs the pure white Carrara marble in a finish typical of Lovet-Lorski’s sculpture. His preferred exterior, “like polished silk,” adds to the serene self-possession that many of his sculptures convey.

Lovet-Lorski’s style and the allure of his materials brought him commissions for portraits of high society and celebrated figures.  By 1929, he was successful enough to maintain studios in New York, Rome, and Paris. Wildenstein Gallery gave him a retrospective exhibit in 1940.  His recognition is international; his sculptures were acquired by the permanent collections of over twenty major museums and he received the French Legion of Honor in 1950.  His last major work was the Manila War Memorial.  As he was completing the memorial in 1957, arthritis crippled him to the point that he could no longer sculpt.  He finished his career as a painter, although the idealized forms and striking materials of his sculpture remain his legacy.

Biography from Papillon Gallery:
Boris Lovet-Lorski was born in Lithuania in 1894.  He was a sculptor, lithographer, and painter.

Lovet-Lorski studied at the Academy of Art in St. Petersburg, Russia from 1914-1916.  He immigrated to Boston in 1920, and later lived in New York City.  He lived in Paris from 1926 to 1932, and then in Los Angeles from 1932 until 1934. Eventually, he became an American citizen.

Lovet-Lorski stylistically is categorized as an Art Deco artist.  He is known for creating work from a variety of rare materials including marble, granite, slate, and onyx.  His sculptures, including bronzes, have a highly polished look.  His work from the 1920s and 1930s often feature exotic allegorical nudes and stylized horses. He also sculpted many busts, frequently on commission.

Lovet-Lorski was a member of many organizations and clubs, including the Lotus Club, National Academy of Design, Society of Independent Artists, and several Parisian Salons.

Lovet-Lorski exhibited in the United States, Europe and South America.  Solo exhibitions include Grace Horn Gallery in Boston in 1920 and the Milwaukee Art Institute.  Additionally, Lovet-Lorski had solo exhibitions in many other cities including Caracas, London, Philadelphia, New York City, and Manila. He also participated in exhibitions at the Reinhardt Gallery in 1925 and at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1932 and 1940.

In Paris, Lovet-Lorski’s work is present in the collections of the Musée Luxembourg, Bibliotèque Nationale, and the Petit Palais.  His work is also represented in the British Museum in London. Lovet-Lorski’s works are in many museums and galleries in the United States including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Art, Boston University, Seattle Museum of Art, and San Diego Fine Arts Society.

Lovet-Lorski was commissioned to create many works including a bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt for the City of Paris in 1949 and busts of Charles DeGaulle, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John Foster Dulles for Paris in 1959.  He was commissioned to complete a heroic bronze bust of John Foster Dulles for the Washington Dulles International Airport in 1963 and a bronze bust of John F. Kennedy for Brandeis University in 1965.


Biography from Mark Borghi Fine Art Inc - New York:
Sculptor and graphic artist Lovet-Lorski was born in Lithuania in 1894 and studied art at the Imperial Academy of Art in St. Petersburg where he worked briefly as an architect.  In 1920, Lovet-Lorski moved to the United States and settled in New York City and in five years hence received his American citizenship.

During his working life, he achieved prominence as a Modernist sculptor, but in view of the fact that his work was mainly commissioned by private clients, his work began to slip into obscurity.  A decade after his death, a large selection of his major works of the 1920s and 1930s was discovered in his New York atelier bringing his art into prominence once again.

Lovet-Lorski's style was eclectic but his work in the Modern style is the most individualistic and impressive.  The female nude became his subject whether in marble or as a lithographic print. Alastair Duncan has written: "the bold sweep of the body capturing its innate rhythm and grace...his torsos convey a feeling of motion and energy, no doubt partly due to the simplifying and streamlining of facial features and hair. No other sculptor in America caught the prevailing French Art Deco mood as effectively or poignantly."

He was an associate member of the National Academy of Design and a member of the National Sculpture Society, as well as the Salons of Paris.

His work is held in the collections of the Luxembourg Museum, Paris; Petit Palais, Paris; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; British Museum, London; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; San Diego Fine Arts Society; Los Angeles Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts; Boston University; and Columbia University.


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Boris Lorski is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Art Deco
Painters of Nudes



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