Peace on Earth
A Portable Monument
The artist known as Jacques Lipchitz was born Chaim Jacob Lipchitz in Druskininkai, Russia (now Lithuania) in 1891. Lipchitz’s parents had grand ambitions for the boy’s future, his father envisioning a career in engineering, while his mother hoped for a more artistic calling. While young Chaim showed an aptitude for engineering, his career was decided when he encountered the work of the French avant-garde movement and became fascinated with the innovative principles of design and artistic expression espoused by artists like Pablo Picasso and Amadeo Modigliani. He soon moved to Paris to pursue an education at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He became an established artist in France; however, he was forced to flee after the German invasion in 1940, eventually re-opening his studio in New York.
It was after arriving in the United States that Lipchitz began to design sculptures on a monumental scale intended for public display. By far his most visible work is the gargantuan Peace on Earth bronze sculpture commissioned in 1966 by Lloyd Rigler and Lawrence Deutsch, two of the founders of the Los Angeles Music Center.
In 1966, the 10-ton bronze sculpture was placed in The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, surrounded by ground-level water fountains. Peace on Earth depicts a Madonna figure surrounded by the sides of a teardrop below a dove of piece descending from heaven. Lipchitz designed the sculpture as the physical form of a prayer for peace, a prayer particularly personal for him due to his having to flee the Nazi invasion 26 years earlier.
Due to the monumental nature of the finished product, several preliminary models made of clay were produced in the planning stages to gauge the effectiveness of the design. Eventually, editioned bronze versions of these tabletop sculptures were produced, complete with the artist’s signature and fingerprint.
Oakridge has been entrusted with one of these rare editions, Study for Peace on Earth, which shows how the design for the monumental bronze evolved over time. In this version, the forms of the Madonna and dove are much less defined with an organic shape that references the clay that was used to create the model. And though the patina is similar, the viewer is much more able to view the intricacies of the treated surface, providing a glimpse of the larger edition’s façade prior to it being exposed to decades of outdoor elements. In other words, this diminutive version of the final Peace on Earth provides an accessible view of a sculpture that in life is too large to be appreciated in full.
And unlike Peace on Earth, which required cranes and thousands of dollars to be relocated to a different spot in the plaza in 2018, this study can be easily introduced into a new context; from a display case to a table to a museum pedestal, this prayer for peace has a mobility and dynamism that reinvigorates the now 50 year old design into something new.
Jeremy Wallis, Artists in Profile: Cubists (Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2003), 40-41. Google Books. https://books.google.com/books?id=omKnyd1G3gEC&pg=PA40&dq=Jacques+Lipchitz&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7kZmsnoDkAhXPuVkKHa2fCI4QuwUwAHoECAAQBA#v=onepage&q=Jacques%20Lipchitz&f=false
David Finn and Susan Joy Slack, Sculpture at the Corcoran (New York: Ruder Finn Press, 2002), 158. https://books.google.com/books?id=NS_ZFZjfNHAC&pg=PA158&dq=Jacques+Lipchitz&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7kZmsnoDkAhXPuVkKHa2fCI4Q6AEwAXoECAYQAg#v=onepage&q=Jacques%20Lipchitz&f=false
Finn and Slack, Sculpture at the Corcoran, 158. https://books.google.com/books?id=NS_ZFZjfNHAC&pg=PA158&dq=Jacques+Lipchitz&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7kZmsnoDkAhXPuVkKHa2fCI4Q6AEwAXoECAYQAg#v=onepage&q=Jacques%20Lipchitz&f=false
 Jeremy Wallis, Artists in Profile: Cubists (Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2003), 40-41. Google Books. https://books.google.com/books?id=omKnyd1G3gEC&pg=PA40&dq=Jacques+Lipchitz&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj7kZmsnoDkAhXPuVkKHa2fCI4QuwUwAHoECAAQBA#v=onepage&q=Jacques%20Lipchitz&f=false
 “Photos: Crane and crew give Music Center’s mammoth ‘Peace on Earth’ sculpture a new home,” Daily News, July 21, 2018. Daily News.com, accessed September 12, 2019. https://www.dailynews.com/2018/07/21/photos-peace-on-earth-sculpture-the-music-center-gets-a-new-home/
About the Author
Elizabeth Doerr has a Master's degree in Art History from Indiana University, specializing in early American art. She has worked at several museums in the Midwest, including the University of Kentucky Art Museum, the Headley-Whitney Art Museum, and the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. Ms. Doerr joined the Oakridge team in 2018.