Song of the Vowels is one of a succession of sculptures produced over almost two decades -the others are The Harp Player (1928), Harp Players [or Harpists] (1930), and Benediction (1945) -in which Lipchitz explored his "obsession" with the motif of the harp, inspired originally by the harpist at symphony concerts in Paris: "Invariably -the music contributing- the peculiar shapes of the harps, their strings vibrating in the light, veritable columns binding earth, transported me into a world which I, in turn, had to make my way back under pain of losing my self there.
From these repeated journeys was born, in the beginning of 1928 ... The Harp Player ... a sculpture made entirely of cords -a 'transparent' sculpture which can be seen and affects us from all sides at once."
In Song of the Vowels, Cubist principles of structure and form are fully realized. The vision of "transparency," produces spatial tensions through open penetrations that puncture the blocklike mass of bronze to create a sense of lightness and a soaring elegance.
Lipchitz commented in 1946 on the poetic title of the sculpture: "The tittle has no connection with the famous poem of Rimbaud, but rather with a legend of ancient Egypt, according to which it appears there existed a prayer, the Song of the Vowels, which the priests and priestesses made use of to conjure up the forces of nature."
Executed and installed in 1969
Number 7 of an edition of 7
Inscribed on top of the base: 7/7 J. Lipchitz 1931-32
Text based on
Living with Modern Sculpture
by Patrick J. Kelleher.
Concept developed by Mary Jane Lydenberg, Annual Giving
Illustrations by Heather Lovett
Edited by Laurel Masten Cantor
Published by the Office of
Communications/Publications, Stanhope Hall
through special arrangement with
the Princeton Art Museum
All rights reserved
Copyright (c) 1982 by
the trustees of Princeton University