Jacques Lipchitz: Hagar in the Desert

April 7, 2011–August 28, 2012



In this powerful sculpture, Jacques Lipchitz depicts the biblical story of Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant of Sarah, wife of Abraham. Unable to conceive, Sarah encourages Abraham to have a child with Hagar, her Egyptian maidservant. But once Hagar becomes pregnant with Ishmael, she is treated poorly by Sarah and flees. An angel visits and assures her that she and her son Ishmael will be protected and urges her to return to Abraham. Although protected by God, Hagar and her son become wanderers in the wilderness.

Born in Lithuania in 1891, Lipchitz moved to Paris in 1909 to join the burgeoning art scene where he was introduced to the cubist work of Picasso and Juan Gris. By the 1920s, Lipchitz was experimenting with abstract form and creating cubist sculpture. When the Nazis invaded, he escaped and immigrated to New York where he continued to thrive artistically, showing at important museums around the country. When he died in 1973 at age 82, he was buried in Jerusalem.

Hagar in the Desert (1969), the last monumental bronze Lipchitz created before his death, will be on view on the Museum’s second floor in a small exhibition examining the many ways Western religions and artists interpret the meaning of this fascinating story from the Torah.


Jacques Lipchitz: Hagar in the Desert has been organized by the Contemporary Jewish Museum and is supported by a generous gift from Phyllis Moldaw.The Koret and Taube Foundations are the lead supporters of the 2011/12 exhibition season.

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