Alexander Archipenko


Gondolier by Alexander Archipenko

Artwork Detail

Archipenko began his training in Russia, moving from Kiev to Moscow because he had difficulty in accepting the academicism of his instructors. Although he exhibited in several group shows in Moscow, he was still dissatisfied, and by 1908 he had established himself in Paris, where he again rejected popular contemporary styles epitomised by sculptors such as Rodin. At this time the lively and radical issue of Cubism, involving the reduction of forms to a fundamental geometric structure, as seen in Picasso's bronze Head of a Woman, 1909, proved a revolutionary moment for many artists. Although he was initially drawn to Cubist treatments of form, Boccioni's Futurist manifesto of 1912, La scultura futurista, caused Archipenko to reject Cubism and led him to focus instead on the manner in which the human form can be represented by intersecting planes, curving planar forms and cone- and wedge-shaped elements. A smaller replica of Archipenko's original sculpture, Gondolier explores the relation of space within the figure, and demonstrates the way in which light is caught on the various surfaces of the form. This focus on the play of light on form is also reflective of a more ancient influence, the visual effects found in the Byzantine culture of his youth. Archipenko took part in several Futurist exhibitions in Italy, even though Boccioni was to eventually declare that 'the sculpture of Archipenko has fallen into archaism and barbarism'. (from The Guide, 2001)

Alexander Archipenko
Production date
1914 {conceived}
870 x 305 x 240 mm
Credit line
Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1964
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
International Art
Display status
On display

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