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    Sale 12071

    Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

    13 May 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1295

    Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)

    Glorification of Beauty

    Price Realised  


    Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)
    Glorification of Beauty
    signed 'Archipen[ko]' (on the back)
    gold plated bronze
    Height: 19½ in. (49.6 cm.)
    Conceived in 1925; this bronze version cast by December 1933

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    Frances Archipenko Gray has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

    Archipenko's first sculptures such as Woman with Cat (1911; Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf) exhibit the impact of Pre-Columbian art in their stress on solid mass. By 1912 he had opened his own art school in Paris, and works such as Walking Woman (1912), a bronze female figure made up of interlocking convex and concave pieces on a flat supporting shape, were more directly related to Cubism. Influenced by the Cubist notion of integrating the figure with surrounding space, by 1914 Archipenko had begun to interchange solids and voids by incorporating effects of light in his sculpture so that protruding elements seemed to recede and internal features to advance. From the early 1920s onward, Archipenko refined his forms into a classicizing naturalism, beautifully exemplified in the present work, turning to traditional sculptural materials such as bronze, marble and ceramics to produce more restrained and elegant compositions. Conceived in New York in 1925 and cast to order in 1933 by the family of the present owner, the sweeping elongated form of Glorification of Beauty is enlivened by a rich gold patina.
    "By using abstracted—sometimes highly stylized—body forms, Archipenko achieved a renunciation of representation which in turn released new expressive energies," Christa Lichtenstern has written. "Archipenko discovered a formula for elegantly representing the human body, which could be reconciled with the vague expectations many people had of a smooth, post-Cubist human form" (Canto d’Amore, exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Basel, 1996, pp. 152 and 153).
    This idea was not without precedent in Archipenko’s sculpture. If he had recently dispensed with the hard contours, cut-outs, and elaborate convex-concave configuration of formal elements in his cubist figures and sculpto-paintings of the previous decade, he instead sought to emphasize once again that more simplified and reductionist classical impulse which had also been a guiding principle, in such sculptures as the well-known Flat Torso (1914), and White Torso (1916).
    As scholar Stanley Casson observed in 1930: "The full genesis of this new style will not be apparent for many years to come...But from the history of the evolution of Archipenko's own style, we can at least guess what has been stirring. An abandonment of the traditional academic system of proportions, a free research into the formal sculpture of the past, and a selection from various periods of antiquity have at last given modern artists a synthesis that is in no sense archaism or pastiche. Modern taste is in love with the formal, and, in a sense, with the austere. But it demands also grace and lightheartedness. Thus the figures of Archipenko, reminiscent actually of nothing in the past, yet derived from the simple outlines of Greek, Egyptian and Byzantine sculpture. If art is to be creative it must create, and often…is created better than nature" (XXth Century Sculptors, Oxford, 1930, p. 73).


    Charles H. Meyer, New York (acquired from the artist, December 1933).
    By descent from the above to the present owner, 1962.

    Pre-Lot Text



    A. Archipenko, Archipenko, Fifty Creative Years, 1908-1958, New York, 1960 (detail of another cast illustrated, pl. 226).
    D.H. Karshan, ed., Archipenko, International Visionary, Washington, D.C., 1969, p. 114, no. 45 (another cast illustrated, p. 72, pl. 103; titled Standing Concave).
    D.H. Karshan, Archipenko, The Sculpture and Graphic Art, Including a Print Catalogue Raisonné, Tübingen, 1974, p. 40 (titled Standing Concave).
    D.H. Karshan, Archipenko, Sculpture, Drawings and Prints, 1908-1963, Danville, Kentucky, 1985, p. 128, no. 68 (another cast illustrated, p. 129).
    A. Barth, Alexander Archipenkos plastisches Oeuvre, Frankfurt, 1997, vol. 2, p. 298, no. 159 (plaster version illustrated, p. 299; titled Standing Concave).