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Alexander Archipenko – a pioneer of Cubism
 
Alexander Porfyrovych Archipenko was born in Kiev, nowadays Ukraine, then - part of the Russian Empire. He started his artistic career in 1902, attending the Kiev Art School and studying under Svyatoslavsky.
 
Just four years later he an exhibition together with the famous Alexander Bogomazov.
 
Archipenko moved to Paris in 1908 to study the most modern art directions, and became a resident in the artistic colony La Ruche, together with many other émigré Russian artists, including Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine, Sonia Delaunay-Terk and Nathan Altman. 
 
Success came in 1910, when he had exhibitions at Salon des Indépendants and Salon d'Automne together with Aleksandra Ekster, Kazimir Malevich, Vadym Meller, Sonia Delaunay-Terk and alongside the famed and fashionable at the time Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and André Derain. He was the second artist after Picasso to present a piece of Cubism in Europe, and the first - in Paris. Recognition allowed him to create his own art school in Paris, which he operated until the start of the Great War.
 
Four of his Cubist sculptures, including Family Life appeared in the controversial Armory Show  in New York City in 1913 . These works were famously caricatured in the New York World...
 
...But other sculptures were praised by critics at the Biennale Internazionale dell'Arte di Venezia in Italy and at the First Russian Art Exhibition in the Gallery van Diemen in Berlin, where he exhibited together with Aleksandra Ekster, Kazimir Malevich, Solomon Nikritin, El Lissitzky.
 
After the war, the artist was able to open another school, this time – in Berlin in 1921, but his work in Germany was cut short by the economic crisis in Germany, and so two years later Archipenko emigrated to the United States. In 1929 he would be granted US citizenship.
 
In America, he slowly gained recognition, taking part in multiple exhibitions, presenting mostly sculptures. The pinnacle was the Century of Progress World's Fair in Chicago in 1933, where Archipenko was allowed to exhibit at the Ukrainian pavilion, contributing much to the success and popularity of the latter.
 
The following decades were marked by his adapting and polishing his own signature Cubist style, exhibiting both in America and Europe.
 
As a recognition of his influence on contemporary artists, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1962.
 
Alexander Archipenko died in New York City, and was interred at the local Woodlawn Cemetery.
 
Sources:
"Refashioning the Figure - The Sketchbooks of Archipenko c.1920", by Marek Bartelik (Henry Moore Institute Essays on Sculpture No. 41
Alexander Archipenko at the Museum of Modern Art

 


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