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87 Meanwhile, work on the sculptural front progressed: Lipchitz began the enlargement of the small plaster model.1 He permitted me to watch his progress, and I loved observing the sculptor cut away at malleable clay with sure, unhesitating strokes of his scalpel. I also relished the intervals of rest, when he would speak of the artists whom he had known when he lived as a young man in the Montparnasse section of Paris. Lipchitz brought to life for me the period of artistic creativity between the two world wars. He might just have had an absinthe with Picasso or recently have received visits from Soutine and Modigliani, two of his closest friends, both less worldly than the more successful Spaniard. Lipchitz rarely laughed, but he chuckled when he remembered Soutine’s behavior after making his first sale to the eccentric but highly perceptive art collector Dr. Albert C. Barnes of Philadelphia. “Unaccustomed to having money in his pockets,” Lipchitz said, “the poor fellow was almost out of his mind when he broke into my studio. ChaptER 9 Enter Paul Tillich 88 New Harmony, indiana ‘Look at my Charvet tie, Jacques!’ he announced to me. ‘It cost me five hundred francs. See my taxi outside your window? The meter is still ticking . I’m on my way to Nice.’” Stories about Modigliani ­ were legion. “Undernourished and poor, like Soutine, Modi was a proud man and an intellectual. He would often drop in on Berthe and me in the middle of the night and recite from Dante’s Inferno.” These recollections of famous artists, though enjoyable, had no bearing on New Harmony. One of Lipchitz’s recent experiences, however, would have a profound and lasting effect on New Harmony and me. I recall that par­ tic­ u­ lar Wednesday afternoon when Lipchitz’s alert and often intense persona was in a state of delirious excitement as he opened the studio door for me. “Monsieur,” I greeted him, for I never called him Jacques and he always addressed me formally, “what­ever has happened?” “Ah, Madame, yesterday, at the Jewish Theological Seminary, I met the most marvelous man!” Sighing deeply and lifting his eyes heavenward, as if in thanksgiving to Yahweh, he continued, “We artists are invited to exchange ideas with theologians of different faiths.” His blue eyes ­ were ablaze again. “You have no idea what it means to find a theologian, yes, a théologien,” he emphasized in French, “who understands what we artists are trying to do.” Lipchitz lifted a ­ clay-­ wet hand in a gesture to remembered misunderstandings. “He understands modern art perfectly! He sends his students to look for works of art that do not seem to have a religious subject. Art that goes below the surface.2 He and Père Couturier think alike.” The modest and insightful priest Père Couturier was responsible for bringing authentic Christian art back into Catholic ­ houses of worship, but the great stride of this Colossus had taken place in Eu­ rope, not in my country. “Oh—oh!” I said. “A theologian exists who cares as much about art as he does about religion? Who and where is this phenomenon?” “He is Paul Tillich, now teaching theology at Union Theological Seminary.” As I listened to Lipchitz’s rapturous account of Tillich, I sensed that­here in New York City I had discovered another Colossus, a person essential to my hopes for New Harmony and a catalyst for the reunion of art Enter Paul Tillich 89 and religion on this side of the Atlantic. And I believed that Lipchitz and Tillich together ­were art and theology. There was a way for me to meet Paul Tillich, who stood with one foot in both theology and philosophy and the other foot in culture, including art of the twentieth century. Since my boarding days at the Ethel Walker School, I had known and loved the Thomas J. Watson Sr. family. Jane, the eldest daughter, was one of my closest friends. Thomas J. Watson Sr. was a trustee at Columbia University, and he appreciated my respect and need for people of heart and genius. He knew why I had sought them for New Harmony and agreed with me that a town once envisioned and inhabited by extraordinary men and women would require such people again for its rebirth. Bricks, mortar, funding, and community would follow in their wake. A visionary himself, Tom Watson, the found­ er and first president of IBM, a significant pioneer of...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253016638
Related ISBN
9780253016249
MARC Record
OCLC
903357020
Pages
400
Launched on MUSE
2015-03-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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