Reclining Figure No. A, 1913, bronze
b. 1887, Kiev, Ukraine
d. 1964, New York, New York
Alexander Archipenko is considered one of the first Cubist sculptors. Born in what is now the Ukraine, Archipenko attended the Kiev Art School to study painting and sculpture. The Byzantine icons, frescoes, and mosaics in Kiev inspired Archipenko’s earliest works. Upon moving to Paris in 1908, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the Musée d’Louvre, where he was drawn to Egyptian, Assyrian, ancient Greek, and early Gothic sculpture. Archipenko began exhibiting with the Cubists and other avant-garde artists at the Salon des Indépendants in 1910, opened his own art school in Paris in 1912, and joined an artist collective circle known as the Section d’Or, a group that included Léger, Braque, Gris, and Picasso. Influenced by Picasso and Braque, Archipenko developed a sculptural form of Cubism using interlocking and overlapping solids and sculptural voids to show various views of the figure simultaneously. Archipenko was interested in breaking the figure into geometrical forms and, like the Futurists, sculpted figures in motion. Archipenko’s legacy of experimentation is characterized by an unconventional mix of materials such as metal, wood, glass, wire, and paint and mixed media works combining bronze, granite, and turquoise. In 1924, he invented and patented the Archipentura, a new kinetic painting/sculpture mixed media art form. Although Archipenko is known primarily for his sculptures, he is by definition a mixed media artist. As painter Juan Gris describes, Archipenko challenged the traditional understanding of sculpture not only through his collages and use of various of materials, but also in his transparent creative process. Archipenko did not concern himself with hiding the nails, junctures, or seams in his sculpture, thus mirroring the visual experience of Cubist painting.