Boris Lovet-Lorski

1894- 1973

Boris Lovet-LorskiBoris Lovet-Lorski, sculptor, lithographer, and painter who contributed significantly to the American Art Deco movement, was born in Lithuania in 1894. 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 that he carried with him to New York where he exhibited on a regular basis with the Wildenstein Gallery starting in 1928.

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. 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. He 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.

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. He was a member of the National Academy of Design, the National Sculpture Society, the Society of Independent Artists and the Salons of Paris. 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. His work is held in the collections of the Musee Luxembourg, the Biblioteque Nationale and the Petit Palais in Paris; the British Museum in London; and many museums and galleries in the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum and the San Francisco Museums of Fine Arts.