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    Sale 12071

    Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

    13 May 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1290

    Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)

    Deux amis

    Price Realised  


    Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)
    Deux amis
    signed 'ARCHIPENKO' (on the back)
    mexican onyx
    Height: 21 in. (53.3 cm.)
    Conceived and carved circa 1933

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    Frances Archipenko Gray has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

    Archipenko had been lauded as the leading and most influential sculptor of the pre-war Paris avant-garde, creating a new unique modernist language which would leave a lasting legacy on twentieth-century sculpture. Christa Lichtenstern has written, “The esteem in which Archipenko was held as sculptor, first in Germany and later in the United States, reinforces his position as a unique modernist phenomenon in the history of sculpture” (Canto d’Amore, exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Basel, 1996, p. 152). 
    Closely allied with Paris's artistic vanguard, Archipenko was among the earliest sculptors to attempt a truly three-dimensional equivalent of Cubism and among the first to produce sculpture by means of assemblage. Influenced by the Cubist notion of integrating the figure with surrounding space, Archipenko embraced negative space as an active element of sculptural articulation, imbuing it with equal value. By introducing the void as a positive element in sculpture, he helped change the traditional concept of sculptural form in the early twentieth century. Drawing a new equivalent between the dialectics of plane and shadow and the play of presence and absence implied by concave and convex shapes, Archipenko incorporated light into his sculpture, which is used to great effect in Deux amis. This was important in perceiving the human form as it added an element of dynamism to his work, which emphasized the effects of movement and life.
    The sensuously curving base of the present sculpture extends upward allowing the two forms to split off and become independent figures. The softness of the curving torsos gives way to the carefully shaped and angled heads of the figures, who move away from one another but yet remain rooted in each other’s bodies.
    Donald Karshan, the foremost scholar of Archipenko's work, has remarked, "When reviewing Archipenko's oeuvre before World War I...we are able to arrive at the following conclusion: …the Ukrainian émigré, virtually on his own, established an entire new vocabulary for twentieth-century sculpture" (Archipenko International Visionary, Washington, D.C., 1969, pp. 28-29). Archipenko is regarded by critics not only as an artist but also as an inventor of sculptural forms, one who exercised a powerful influence on the art of our century.


    Private collection, Connecticut.
    Helen Adams Bobbs, Indiana.
    By descent from the above to the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    A. Archipenko, Archipenko, Fifty Creative Years, 1908-1958, New York, 1960 (illustrated, pls. 155-156).