In 1912 the youthful Moryce Lipchytz was just 14 years old when he left his hometown Lodz in Poland then occupied by the Kazaks, to see his oldest brother Samuel in Paris. Samuel had settled there, working as an ivory carver. With him, Moryce learned “to hold the tools” and he acquainted himself with profound knowledge of handling a variety of materials, not only ivory which he used to carve mainly for his modest breadwinning. He also familiarized himself with all kind of stones, wood and the modeling of clay and cement. All this happened at “La Ruche”, that cosmopolitan artist’s community at Montparnasse. His neighbors were Chagall, Zadkine, Soutine, Modigliani, Archipenko as well as Jacques Lipchitz. In order not to be confound with this artist of the same name who had arrived at “La Ruche” five years earlier, Morice adopted the name LIPSI in 1929. In 1930 he married a young artist from Zurich, Hildegard Weber. The fresh couple settled in an old farm at Chevilly-Larue, a southern suburb of Paris, where Lipsi kept his sculpture studio until he died in 1986. Since 1931 Lipsi preferred to sculpt in stone. He was a loner outside of schools and trends of his time. When he picked up stone, wood or ivory he was always fascinated by the beauty of the raw blocks he had at hand. He guided his hand with respect and the necessary love, but if needed he also attacks the material with firmness; the intention is to inspire life to creatures and things by means of light……….
An important period of Lipsi’s artistic maturity coincided with the tragic times of World War two. Lipsi (of Jewish origins) had to take the route of Exodus in 1940. He first found asylum in Abzac (Charente). Having arrived there, he continued his artists working despite all the difficulties he encountered. The major of the village assigned him with a sculpture: “Shepherd surrounded by his sheep”, followed by orders by the priest: “Virgin and child” for the Roman church of Briac and then “Two angels playing musical instruments” (Church of Adriers). Later on, his flight from Hitler’s threat let him continue to travel until he reached the Swiss border of Geneva after dangerous stopovers in Provence and Savoy. The day of the armistice he returned to Paris. His masks made in gypsum express the conflicts he had experienced. His brother Samuel had perished at Auschwitz.
Since 1921 Lipsi regularly holds exhibitions in Paris and abroad, participating at the great Salons. After 1960, Lipsi is heading the sculptures department of “Salon des réalités nouvelles”. Since 1960 Lipsi’s work occupies an important place in monumental sculpture. His sculptures become part of the collective memory: The famous “Olympic column” (1967) in Grenoble, a granite of 12 meters, but also in Tokio, Tel Aviv, New York, Mannheim – not to forget the states gift of president Mitterrand to Reykavik (1983), a sculpture of Lipsi in lava stone to “…… contribute by your talent to the cultural emanation of France”. (Jack Lang).
Today his work is in many museums and private collections and thanks to particular circumstances, the Haute Saône is still lucky to host the extensive collection of Lipsi’s legacy, the Museum Morice Lipsi in Rosey. Opened in 1990 under the patronage of the Minister of Culture Jack Lang, this museum and its sculpture garden offer an incredible collection of sculptures and drawings. The collection also retraces the different influences and stages in the sculptor’s creation and let him travel through an important page in the history of sculpture in France.