Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)
Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)

Woman Combing Her Hair

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)
Woman Combing Her Hair
signed, numbered and dated 'Archipenko 1915 1' (on the base)
bronze with blue patina
Height: 24½ in. (62.5 cm.)
Width: 6.5/8 in. (16.8 cm.)
Depth: 5¾ in. (14.6 cm.)
Conceived in 1915 and cast circa 1955
Acquired from the artist by the present owner, 23 November 1959.
A. Archipenko, Archipenko, Fifty Creative Years 1908-1958, New York, 1960, nos. 145 and 146 (other versions illustrated).
The Oregonian, 1 September 1962, p. 1 (illustrated).
D. Karshan, ed., Archipenko, International Visionary, Washington, D. C., 1969, p. 50 (another version illustrated).
D. Karshan, Archipenko, The Sculpture and Graphic Art, Tbingen, 1974, p. 109 (another version illustrated).
Portland Art Museum, Oregon (on extended loan, 1962-1967).
Sale room notice
Frances Archipenko Gray has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Lot Essay

The present version of Woman Combing Her Hair is a singular example of Archipenko's sculptural oeuvre. Because of its size (24½ inches high), the present work is the intermediary between the small maquette and the human-scaled version of Woman Combing Her Hair. More importantly, the patina of the bronze is colored strikingly blue, that was applied by the artist himself (in Archipenko's letter to the present owner, 26 June 1960). The present work reflects the artist's thoughts on his theory of "Sculpto-Painting": "The unification of color and form does not interfere with spiritualization; on the contrary, it facilitates the expression of the abstract in this medium" (quoted in Karshan, 1969, op. cit., p. 22).

Woman Combing Her Hair contains several innovations transformed the Cubist structure of his previous sculptures. Katherine Jánszky Michaelsen writes:

"By 1914, Archipenko began to interchange concave and convex forms in his sculpture. This was made possible by optical illusion-under certain lighting conditions, receding forms appear to protrude and protruding ones appear to recede. The hole is not only one of the pictorial features of cubist sculpture but a significant step in the development of sculpture in general; it signals the opening-up of the traditional monolithic concept of sculpture. Later works by Archipenko in which the hole is found are: Statuette, 1915, Woman Combing Her Hair, 1915, Walking Woman, 1918-1919 and Seated Woman, 1920. Archipenko's innovation was termed Lochplastik ("sculpture of holes") in Germany in the 1920s and touted as a major discovery. Archipenko's introduction of the void as a positive element in sculpture continues to be regarded as one of his significant contributions" (K. J. Michaelsen, Alexander Archipenko: A Centennial Tribute, Washington, D.C., 1986, p. 24).

The original plaster of the present work is housed at the Saarbrcken Museum, Germany. Other bronze versions of Woman Combing Her Hair are represented in the collections of major art museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the National Gallery, Washington, D.C.

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