Situated at the forefront of the historic European avant-garde, Alexander Archipenko (American, born Ukraine, 1887–1964) reinvigorated sculpture with his dynamic creativity at the beginning of the twentieth century. A celebrated innovator and inventor, Archipenko took an artistic path that led him from Ukraine to Moscow and then to Paris and Berlin, where he lived during a period of extraordinary cultural transformation. Archipenko’s arrival in New York in 1923 marked the start of a forty-year career in the United States as an artist, educator, and mentor.
Drawn from major museum collections and private holdings, the exceptional objects presented in this exhibition highlight Archipenko’s lifelong interest in abstraction as a vehicle for innovation. In particular, works made in the United States offer insight into his exploration of negative space as sculptural form and his use of concave and convex shapes to abstract the human figure. Archipenko’s signature sculpto-paintings, brightly colored mixed-media reliefs, are prominently featured alongside freestanding sculptures made of terra-cotta, marble, and bronze.
Key motifs recur in the exhibition, such as the reclining ﬁgure and the subject of dance. Archipenko sought to imbue sculpture with concepts of movement and time through his use of color, kinetic mechanisms, and unexpected materials and techniques such as polychrome patina, lead casting, and electroplating. Recognized for an artistic practice that combined fine art and industry, Archipenko integrated creative tools of the past with technologies of the present as a way of propagating and advancing modern art.
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