Jacques Lipchitz (Portrait Of A Young Man) Essay Sample For College

Diego Rivera

Paris 1914

Oil on canvas,

25 5/8 x 21 5/8″ (65.1 x 54.9 cm).

Museum of Modern Art: New York, NY

Jacque Lipchitz (Portrait of a Young Man), by renown Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera is a portrait of his sculptor friend, Jacques Lipchitz, done during the ten years Rivera lived in Paris. Rivera was best known as a muralist prior to his stay in France, but after meeting Pablo Picasso, one of the developers of the cubist style, he became increasingly involved in cubism. The portrait of Jacques Lipchitz, painted in oil on canvas in 1914, is an example of Rivera’s many cubist portraits completed during this period. It is signed in the lower right corner by the artist. The painting was donated to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, where it is currently housed.[1]

The portrait of Jacques Lipchitz, at 25 5/8 inches tall and 21 5/8 inches wide is not an extremely large piece of work but its impact is much greater than its physical size. Rivera’s personal interpretation of cubism is distinctive in his use of bright colors, larger surfaces and intense textures, evident in this portrait. While many cubists were focusing on flattening the plane of the picture and using monochromatic colors, Rivera used cubist techniques to make his work multi-dimensional and used color to describe strong emotion, while also connecting to his Mexican heritage. Serapes, the woven blankets worn by Mexican peasants, became a hallmark of Rivera’s cubist paintings and can be seen in his portrait of Jacques Lipchitz, cloaking his Lithuanian friend in his own Mexican identity.

[2] While many cubist portraits such as Picasso’s Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (fig 1) broke down the image into small, difficult to recognize pieces with the reconstruction barely identifiable, Rivera chose to reconstruct Jacques Lipchitz’s face and head area in a way that adds depth and interest. Rivera depicted Lipchitz as deep in thought through the placement of his hands and his use of multi- dimensions and prominent, deeper colors in his head area, adds interest and even area to his head, giving the impression of Lipchitz having many thoughts. The portrait also has two mouths, one appears outgoing and verbose and the other, quiet and thoughtful. It is obvious that Rivera considered Lipchitz an intelligent and multi-faceted man.[3]

Cubism was an art movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.  The first branch of cubism developed between 1908 and 1911 was called Analytic Cubism. Analytic cubism analyzed natural forms, reducing them to basic shapes, like cylinders, cones and spheres in two-dimensions. There was little color used except for monochromatic blues, greys and browns. Popular cubist motifs include liquer bottles, musical instruments and painted wood grain. Synthetic Cubism took the movement even further through the use of collage and mixed media. Picasso and Braque participated in friendly competition as they experimented and stretched the boundaries of the cubist movement, which began in 1912 and remained vital until around 1919, when the Surrealist movement gained popularity.[4] Diego Rivera, a long time admirer of Picasso’s work, stepped into the cubist movement in 1913 when it was already well established, adding his own techniques and style.[5]

Portraiture was a primary theme in cubist art, and as in Rivera’s portrait of Jacques Lipchitz, often displayed the multifaceted persona of man. John Klein states in the introduction to his book, Matisse Portraits, that a portrait is a transaction between the subjective artist and the sitter.[6] He describes the relationship between them as a mutual search for identity of the subject. The period in history during the cubist movement was one of upheaval. World War I brought a variety of new experiences and realizations of individual frailty and regret in the wake of great nationalism and expectations of a glowing victory. People who defined themselves by one set of standards were finding themselves questioning who they were. Shearer West  states in his book “Portraiture” that a portrait not only involves the imagination and perception of the artist, but it also describes the “perceived social role of the sitter and the qualities of the sitter that raise him or her above the occasion of the moment.”[7]  Portraiture then, was perhaps a means to aid in the discovery of individual identity; a way of seeing oneself in a different light, as others viewed you, during a time of external upheaval. To be successful, a portrait artist must help the sitter to define himself through the depiction of those outstanding and individualistic qualities that he possesses. He must be sensitive to emotion and able to capture the uniqueness of his subject. Richard Brilliant points out that a portrait artist must have “artistic ingenuity and empathetic insight” to be successful. Diego Rivera had the qualities for success. His portraits, whether cubist or impressionistic, illustrate complex emotion and the individuality of his subjects and are an excellent example of successful portraiture.[8]

Born in Guanajuato, Mexico on December 8, 1886, Diego Rivera was a twin, but his brother died at the age of eighteen months. Diego Rivera’s parents recognized his artistic ability at a young age. He was encouraged to draw and paint from before the age of two. His father even lined one room of the house in canvas so Diego could practice his art on the walls. He was enrolled in local art courses at nine and was admitted to the Academia de S Carlos in Mexico City at eleven. He was awarded a scholarship at fifteen and a government pension at eighteen. At nineteen he was awarded a travel grant to Europe, and in 1907 he went to Spain, settling in Paris two years later. In November 1910 he returned to Mexico for an exhibition of his work at the Academia, which was part of the Mexican Centennial of Independence celebrations. The Mexican Revolution began the day the exhibition opened, and Rivera returned to Paris early in 1911, remaining there until 1919.[9]

Rivera developed into an accomplished painter during his years in Europe. He studied with Eduardo Chicharro in Madrid where much of his work shows the influence of El Greco and his contact with Spanish modernist circles.[10] His contact with the many artists living in Paris exposed him to a wide variety of different artistic styles and schools of thought. In 1911, he moved into La Ruche, an artist community in Montparnasse and developed friendships with several artists, including Amedeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso.  He enthusiastically embraced the cubist movement and was very prolific in cubist studies. In 1917 he became  inspired by Paul Cézanne’s paintings and shifted toward Post-Impressionism with simple forms and large patches of vivid colors.[11]

In 1920 Rivera left France at the urging of the French Ambassador, and traveled through Italy studying Renaissance frescoes. He was being encouraged to return to Mexico and become an active part of the revolution through a government program using murals as a proletarian art form. He returned to Mexico in 1921 and began his first significant mural in January 1922. Rivera painted Creation in the Bolívar Auditorium of the National Preparatory School in Mexico City with a pistol by his side, to guard against right-wing students. His murals, subsequently painted in fresco only, dealt with Mexican society and often reflected the country’s 1910 Revolution. Rivera painted many frescoes throughout his career including those in the Auditorium of the National Agricultural School at Chapingo. Some critics consider these to be his finest work. Also in this building is the mural “Biological Evolution and Social Evolution,” a philosophically symbolic synthesis in which the female nude figures are considered among the most impressive in modern art. [12] [13]

Rivera painted over a two hundred murals in five countries, most of them in Mexico. The Mexican mural movement is one of the greatest artistic achievements of the twentieth century. The themes of the murals were of Mexican society and revolution and often told historical stories that began with an Aztec past, leading to the glorious revolutionary present. This was the first time that the story was told this way, and the past was interpreted in light of modern politics. The murals reflected artistic influences that Rivera had encountered in Europe, such as surrealism and cubism. The mural paintings were created in the fresco technique of water color on wet plaster and were done in harmony with the surrounding architecture and usually in bright, bold colors with strong imagery.[14] The images Rivera created in his Mexican murals were what most Americans imagine when they close their eyes and think of Mexico.

Rivera’s political life is of almost as much interest as his artwork. He was a lifelong radical atheist and revolutionary Marxist, and this brought him much difficulty. In February, 1929, when Stalin gained the upper hand in the struggle against Trotsky, he banished him from Soviet territory. Rivera was a supporter of Trotsky. Trotsky went from Turkey to France to Norway, but Soviet pressure pushed him from each place. At Rivera’s request, President Lázaro Cárdenas agreed to give Trotsky asylum. He moved into Rivera’s home, the Blue House in January of 1937 and lived with him for the next two years.[15] In February 1938 Rivera met André Breton, a French Surrealist poet. Together, they printed a call to create a federation to resist Stalinist cultural domination in the arts in the Partisan Review, a left-wing anti-Stalinist New York literary magazine. Then, Rivera and Trotsky had a falling out in 1940. Much of President Cárdenas’s following were strongly Stalinists and Rivera attacked him, saying he was “an accomplice of the Stalinists”, and decided to support a very right wing candidate who was backed by Mexico’s neo-Nazi movement. Trotsky and Rivera parted ways over politics, with Trotsky describing Rivera as “a genius whose political blunderings could cast no shadow either on his art or on his personal integrity.” After Trotsky was assassinated in 1940, Rivera reverted back to Stalinism.[16]

            Rivera continued his involvement with the Mexican Communist Party and was often at the forefront of subversive action. In 1947, Rivera shook up the religious community when he included the phrase “God does not exist!” in one of his murals. A group of students burst into the Del Prado hotel, where the mural hung, to carve out “does not exist!” In response, Rivera led a group of one hundred left-wing artists and intellectuals into the hotel. Amid shouts of “Death to imperialism!,” the words were carved back in.[17]

In 1930, Rivera accepted an invitation to paint a mural in San Francisco, CA. His “Making of a Fresco” at the San Francisco Art Institute got him five more commissions in the United States, including his “Detroit Industry” Frescoes in the garden court of the Detroit Institute of Arts, often considered his most important mural outside Mexico. In 1933 he began Man at the Crossroads for the RCA building in the Rockefeller Center in New York, but was prevented from finishing the mural because it contained a portrait of Lenin which he refused to remove. He lost several anticipated commissions due to this scandal. Rivera then painted a series of 21 overtly political panels called Portrait of America for the anti-Stalinist New Workers School in New York. [18]

Rivera’s romantic life was nearly as tumultuous as his political life. In 1909 he met a young Russian painter by the name of Angelina Belhoff. She became his common law wife for the next ten years. It was Rivera’s relationship with Bluff, and her involvement with a circle of Russian anarchists, that significantly developed the artist’s political and national consciousness. Belhoff gave birth to Rivera’s only son, Diego, in 1916. He died of influenza when he was two.[19]  In 1919 his daughter Marika was born to Marevna Vorobieva, although he was still with Angeline. He left Angeline when he decided to go back to Mexico in 1920. In 1922, he married Guadalupe Marin, whom he had met while on travels in Mexico to study the various landscapes and history and they had two daughters. They divorced in 1927. In 1928, he met Frida Kahlo, at a weekly party. He and Kahlo married in 1929. Their marriage often was tumultuous. Both Kahlo and Rivera had fiery temperaments and they both had numerous extramarital affairs.Kahlo was openly bisexual and had affairs with both men and women. Rivera knew of and tolerated her relationships with women, but her relationships with men made him jealous. Kahlo became outraged when she learned that Rivera had an affair with her younger sister, Cristina and she left him. The couple eventually divorced, but remarried in 1940. Their second marriage was as turbulent as the first. Their living quarters often were separate. Rivera appeared to have felt a great loss in July of 1954 when his wife Frida Kahlo died, but one year later he married Emma Hurtado, his dealer since 1946. Diego Rivera died on November 24, 1957 in Mexico City, two weeks before his seventy-second birthday.[20] (Favela, 1986).

Although Diego Rivera’s most heralded work is his murals,  many of his smaller paintings, including Jacques Lipchitz: Portrait of a Young Man,  better reveal the versatility and emotional state of Rivera. Many were produced during a period that coincided with both the Mexican Revolution and World War I, reflecting Rivera’s expatriate role, explore issues of national identity, and carry nationalistic overtones. Throughout Rivera’s exploration of many artistic styles, media and subjects, his work always stimulated sentiment and made an impact on the societal status quo, encouraging its viewers to consider alternative views of a prior bias. Rivera lived boldly, and exhibited this boldness in each piece of work he did. Diego Rivera was easily one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.



[1]Ramon Favela, Diego Rivera: A Retrospective (Detroit Institute of the Arts, 1986) 86-91.

[2] Andrea Kettenmann, Diego Rivera 1886-1957 (Benedikt Taschen Verlag. 2000) 23-54.

[3]Bertram David Wolfe; Diego Rivera. Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera (Rowman and Littlefield, NY. 2000) 146-152.

[4]Ramon Favela, 201.

[5] Wolfe, 63-89.

[6] John Klein, Matisse Portraits. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001) 89-90.

[7] Shearer West, Portraiture (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004) 121.

[8]Richard Brilliant. Portraiture (London: Reaktion Books, 1991) 62.

[9] Kettermann, 234.

[10]Patrick  Marnham. Dreaming with His Eyes Open: A life of Diego Rivera (New York, NY. 1999)23-36.

[11]Pete Hamill, Diego Rivera. (Harry N Abrams, New York. 2002) 126.

[12] Wolfe, 101.

[13] Favela, 220.

[14] Marnham, 227.

[15]Marnham, 190


[16]Favela, 131.

[17] Marnham, 273-275.

[18] Marnham, 291.

[19]Wolfe, 37.

[20] Wolfe, 171.


Brilliant, Richard. Portraiture. London: Reaktion Books, 1991

Catlin, S.L., Political Iconography in the Diego Rivera Frescoes at Cuernavaca, Mexico, Art and Architecture in the Service of Politics, ed. H. A. Millon and L. Nochlin (Cambridge, MA, 1978), pp. 439–49

Favela, Ramon, Diego Rivera: The Cubist Years. Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ. 1984.

Favela, Ramon, Diego Rivera: A Retrospective. Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit, MI. 1986.

Hamill, Pete, Diego Rivera. Harry N Abrams, New York. 2002.

Kettenmann, Andrea, Diego Rivera: 1886-1957. Benedikt Taschen Verlag. 2000.

Klein, John. Matisse Portraits. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001.

Indych-Lopez, Anna. Mexican Muralism Without Walls: The Critical Reception of Portable Work by Orozco, Rivera and, Siqueiros in the United States, 1927-1940. Ph.D. Dissertation: Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, 2003.

Marnham, Patrick. Dreaming with his Eyes Open: alive of Diego Rivera.  New York, NY. 1999.

West, Shearer. Portraiture. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

 Wolfe, Bertram David; Rivera, Diego. Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera. Rowman and Littlefield, NY. 2000.

Marxist Ideology Of C.L.R. James

The Marxist ideology of C.L.R. James, author of The Black Jacobins, is embedded in his writing. As a result, structuralism alone is not an adequate methodology for analyzing his text on the San Domingo revolution. Structuralism is concerned primarily with individual thought process, not historical aspects or cultural change. However, Marxist literary criticism is appropriate because it’s more concerned with the importance of societal change.

Marxist literary criticism explores ways in which the text reveals ideological oppression of a dominant economic class over subordinate classes.

The Black Jacobins historical narrative was often dull and bland. It relied heavily on quoted material, which slows a narrative considerably. But James peppers his account of the revolution with vivid and powerful metaphors, descriptions and words. To quote James himself “…he used them with a fencer’s finesse and skill.”

James’ text reflects and resists a dominant ideology. Toussaint L’Ouverture resists bourgeoisie values. A desire to challenge the power structure in contemporary society exists; and the prevailing issue is economic power which leads to political power.

In structuralist thought, conflicting ideas exist in the form of binary oppositions, which do not find resolution. According to Marxist structural thought, when the binary oppositions can not be overcome, they evolve.

Marxist thought permeates the structure, diction, and methodology of The Black Jacobins. But it’s not always obvious. An argument can be made that ideology is silent, and Marxist structuralism is often hidden within the text of a larger work.

French philosopher Paul Ricouer said that the task of Marxist literary criticism is concerned not with what the text says but what it hides. Several examples of this philosophy can be found within The Black Jacobins text.

Karl Marx said in 1852 “What was new in what I did was to demonstrate that the existence of classes is tied only to definite phases of development of production; that the class struggle necessarily leads to dictatorship of the proletariat; that this dictatorship is only a transition to the dissolution of all classes and leads to the formation of a classless society.”

Marx is reflecting on the phases of a revolution.

James writes “slavery corrupted the society of San Domingo and had now corrupted the French bourgeoisie in the first flush and pride of its political inheritance. Reaction triumphed. But phases of a revolution are not decided in parliaments, they are only registered there.”

James has cleverly hidden his Marxist views in these seemingly innocuous words.

Clearly, the conflicting binary oppositions in The Black Jacobins which could not be overcome without evolving on a societal level are the black-white, and slavery-freedom issues.

The opposition are never completely resolved, but they do evolve as we can see by James’ description of certain events.

James skillfully narrates the torture and death of Ogé to describe the brutality perpetrated by the whites against the slaves.

“They condemned them to be led by the executioner to the main door of the parish church, bare-headed and in their shirts, tied by a cord round the neck, and there on their knees, with wax candles in their hands, to confess their crimes and beg forgiveness, after which they were led to the parade-ground, and there have their arms, legs and elbows broken on a scaffold, after which they were bound on wheels, their faces turned to the sky, to remain thus while it pleased God to keep them alive.”

This is not only a powerful image of cruelty on the part of the oppressive whites, but also of God’s cruelty. God and the church are not often mentioned in the narrative, but when they are it’s not a favorable description. This is in line with Marxist thought.

But James also skillfully used the rape and killing of white women and children to bring attention to the level of brutality that the slaves themselves were capable or attaining.

“The slaves destroyed tirelessly…They whose, women had undergone countless violations, violated all the women who fell into their hands, often on the bodies of their still bleeding husbands, fathers, and brothers. Vengeance! Vengeance! Was their war-cry, and one of them carried a white child on a pike as a standard.”

Powerful and descriptive passages such as the two I’ve detailed above keep the narrative moving, but lengthy passages were not always required to develop an idea. Occasionally, a single word stands out in a line of text and brings attention quickly to the idea James is conveying to the reader.

For example, when Rigaud was attempting to restore calm, James writes, “Riguad issued a proclamation stating that he had been officially put in control of the government, and immediately calm was restored. Leborgne and Kerverseau left, and Rigaud remained master of the South.”

Master is an interesting, and appropriate, choice of words because it indicates that an oppressor is maintaining control over the oppressed. Rigaud, a Mulatto, was known for jailing blacks and whites, but not Mulattoes. So with one word James conveys the message that oppression hadn’t ended, it simply evolved and changed color.

One more example of strong diction can be found on page 178 where James writes, “…the claws of restoration.” That is a violent and permanent image created by the use of a single word. Claws are powerful tools of a predator that grip tightly and aren’t easily opened.

It has to be noted that some words stood out precisely because James omitted them from his text. Interestingly, first names were routinely missing. On page 204 James identifies Paul L’Ouverture by full name. This is one of the rare occasions that a full name is used. Of course Paul is the brother of Toussaint, and the first name is required to avoid confusion. James uses titles such as Earl or general frequently, but not first names. Perhaps he stripped away some individuality.

            Marxist thought, communism, and socialism were all considered to be part of a great social experiment. And James conveyed his thoughts about the experiment without actually naming it specifically in his text.

            “But he worked also at the restoration of the colony. Le Cap was partially rebuilt, and cultivation began to flourish. On a plantation in the North Plain a little negro named Brossard had the confidence of both blacks and whites. He got the labourers to work on a promise of a fourth part of the produce and he raised the capital to begin production again. The experiment was a great success and plantations were farmed out by the Government on this new principle. Toussaint encouraged his generals and other notabilities to adopt this system by which everybody including the state profited.”

            James is a historian with tremendous literary skills, but careful study of his text reveals a hidden agenda that goes beyond the telling of an oppressed group’s struggle for freedom. It’s all in the words.


Biography Of James Hutton


James Hutton a Scottish scholar was born in Edinburgh on 3rd June 1726 to the city’s treasurer and his wife.unfortunately enough the city’s treasurers died widowing the wife and this scholar was therefore educated by the mother. James Hutton was educated at the school of Edinburgh, university of Edinburgh as a” student of humanity “and later medicine. He proceeded to Paris to pursue the same, then in 1749 he attained the degree of doctor of medicine from Leyden having a thesis on circulation of blood.

To his discovery however that an opportunity seemed to be hardly available for him, Hutton took a French leave from the medical profession resolving to devotedly take up agriculture having a farm he had inherited from his father in Berwickshire. Consequently, he went to Norfolk with an aim of getting knowledge of farm practices then he visited Holland, Belgium and north France.

Subsequently during this time, he commenced the study of the earth’s surface slowly developing a challenge to which he would later devote all his efforts. In the 1754th summer he settled in his farm in Berwickshire for 14years where he brought about some advanced moulds of husbandry.

In around 1768 as the farm developed and completely evolved into a better asset, he was persuaded to lease it then set up permanently in Edinburgh.In Edinburgh, unmarried Hutton resided with his three sisters in existence of other scholarly friends devoted to research. Just as the saying goes, “no man is an island”, Hutton wasn’t a loner but was friendly. Some of his friends were: Prof John Playfair, David Hume, Adam Smith and Joseph Black.


In his life Hutton made remarkable contributions in arenas of geology, physics, nature, chemistry and even experimental farming. In geology, Hutton’s efforts could be viewed in terms of information about rocks and other earthly materials’ occurrence and being. He made attempts to bring out his view on the origin of minerals and rocks, their composition and distribution on the earth’s surface hence combining them into a well argued out theory (the theory of earth) on the basis of observation

In physics Hutton took a courageous initiative to long study about atmospheric changes in weather components like rainfall, climate, humidity, and even temperature. He had therefore made some theories to explain all these weather aspects occurrences and the mechanisms behind them. He came up with the theories of rain and the earth.

In the aspect of nature, Hutton in a bid to plead in favour of uniformity of living of living creatures –their evolution he suggested the natural selection mechanism to be possibly affecting them. He had come to these ideas after experimenting by breeding of both plants and animals. He brought a clear cut difference found in the forms of variation and survival of these organisms.

Conclusively, in this aspect he depicts our view and perception on the earth and its compartments both internally and externally. Hutton in chemistry tries to expound on the chemical composition in rocks and minerals as he brings out his ideas as pertains to geology and mineralogy. He also studies and comments on the other earth materials, their components and occurrences on the earth surface.

Hutton made several publications depicting his contribution in attempt to explain his views on the different aspects. He availed these to the royal society of Edinburgh in papers with various titles. His theories of the earth and rain appeared in the volumes.

James Hutton succumbed to an incurable disease that ferried his outstanding career to an end on the march 1797. He will be greatly remembered for his geological contributions and speculations as he is and would be considered the father of modern geology.


  1. Britannica (2005). Biography of James Hutton. Britannica Encyclopedia 11th edition.

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