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

Hollywood Torso

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)
Hollywood Torso
signed 'Archipenko' (on the bottom right side)
polished terracotta
Height: 52 ½ in. (133.4 cm.)
Executed in 1936; unique
Katherine Kuh Gallery, Chicago (circa 1937).
Nettie Rosenstein, Chicago (acquired from the above).
Morris and Gwen Hirsch, Chicago.
Private collection, California (acquired from the above); sale, Christie's, New York, 14 November 1996, lot 299.
Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owners.
A. Archipenko, Archipenko: Fifty Creative Years, 1908-1958, New York, 1960, nos. 219 and 220 (illustrated).

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Jessica Fertig
Jessica Fertig

Lot Essay

Frances Archipenko Gray has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

The worsening state of the post-war German economy and political violence in the streets of Berlin led Archipenko in the fall of 1924 to emigrate to America, where he hoped to capitalize on his solo debut at Katherine Dreier and Marcel Duchamp’s Société Anonyme, New York, in 1921. Christa Lichtenstern observed that “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 in the first third of the twentieth century” (Canto d’Amore, exh. cat., Kunstmuseum Basel, 1996, p. 152). Among contemporary sculptors, even those no less revolutionary, “it was Archipenko who, for many, according to Theodor Däubler, ‘flew highest of all’” (ibid, p. 152).
In 1935, Archipenko moved from New York to Los Angeles which provided him with a renewed sense of creativity. He commented on the change of his environment: “...it seems to me that California is geographically well-suited for the founding of the new science of creation.” (quoted in Archipenko Themes and Variations-1908-1963, exh. cat., Museum of Arts and Sciences, Daytona Beach, 1989, p. 66). In California, Archipenko favored working in terracotta and with color, revisiting subjects from some of his earlier sculptures. Katherine Jánszky Michaelson has explained that the form of the female torso, which so dominated his earlier work in Paris, reappeared in his work on the west coast and was often sculpted in terracotta as seen in Hollywood Torso (Alexander Archipenko: A Centennial Tribute, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1986, p. 70). The present sculpture typifies the softening of the lines that is seen in his California sculptures and the warm color of the terracotta lends itself to the sensuously curving and simplified form of the female figure. Hollywood Torso was clearly inspired by Hellenistic sculpture—Archipenko often sought to translate the ideality of classical statuary into the language of modern art. The purity of the color and form in Hollywood Torso suggests the timelessness of the female figure as a theme in art.

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