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

Torse tournant

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)
Torse tournant
signed, dated and numbered 'Archipenko 21 3/6' (on the left side)
bronze with green and blue patina
Height: 18 5/8 in. (47.3 cm.)
Conceived in 1921; this bronze version cast circa 1955
Galerie Valentien, Stuttgart.
Werner and Nelly Bär, Zurich (1960); sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., London, 30 March 1977, lot 71.
Private collection, Switzerland; sale, Christie's, London, 29 November 1988, lot 227.
Private collection, The Netherlands (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, London, 8 February 2005, lot 314.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
H. Hildebrandt, Alexander Archipenko, Berlin, 1923 (marble version illustrated, pl. 28).
E. Wiese, "Alexander Archipenko," Junge Kunst, vol. 40, 1923 (marble version illustrated, pl. XV).
A. Archipenko, Archipenko, Fifty Creative Years 1908-1958, New York, 1960 (marble version illustrated, pl. 118).
D.H. Karshan, Archipenko International Visionary, Washington, D.C., 1969, pp. 62 and 114, no. 38 (another cast illustrated, p. 63, pl. 81).
D.H. Karshan, ed., Archipenko, The Sculpture and Graphic Art, Tübingen, 1974, p. 99 (marble version illustrated).
W. Schnell, Der Torso als Problem der modernen Kunst, Berlin, 1980, p. 126 (another cast illustrated, no. 174).
Kunsthaus Zurich, Sammlung Werner und Nelly Bär, 1965, no. 23

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David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan

Lot Essay

Frances Archipenko Gray has confirmed the authenticity of this sculpture.

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 earliest to produce sculpture by means of assemblage. Donald Karshan, the foremost scholar of Archipenko's work, remarked, "When reviewing Archipenko's oeuvre before World War I...confining the analysis to just a three-year period from 1910 to 1913 when Archipenko was in his early twenties, we are able to arrive at the following conclusion: during this brief period, the Ukrainian émigré, virtually on his own, established an entire new vocabulary for twentieth-century sculpture" (op. cit., 1969, pp. 28-29). Indeed, 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, as arguably no sculptor has in his own time since August Rodin.

Archipenko's first sculptures such as Woman with Cat (1911; Kunstmuseum Dusseldorf), showed 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 works. The truncated base of the present figure extends upward into a sweeping and voluptuous form. The precarious angle of the shoulders perfectly balances with the sway of the figure's hips; the triangular outline of the upper torso is inverted and echoed in the stance of the figure's rotating pelvis.

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, as with some of Archipenko's torsos, is created better than nature" (quoted in A. Archipenko, op. cit., p. 73).

(fig. 1) Alexander Archipenko working on Vase Woman II, circa 1919.

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