Posts Tagged Archipenko

Alexander Archipenko, First Cubist Sculptor

None of the sculptors since Rodin made a greater impact in his time like Archipenko. It was in the first decade of his artistic life that he created new laws of modern sculpture and rose in art history as a leader of the art revolution and drew in many others.

Svyatoslav Hordynsky,
Ukrainian artist, poet and writer

Archipenko at his New York studio. 1960 Photo: A. Paschuk

Archipenko at his New York studio. 1960
Photo: A. Paschuk

Every book about twentieth century art mentions Alexander Archipenko. While alive, he was acknowledged as one of the most acclaimed sculptors in the world. His works are in collections at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, MoMa and Guggenheim Museum in New York, and at museums in Stockholm, Berlin and Tel-Aviv. Archipenko is a national artist in France, Germany and the United States where he lived and created. Notwithstanding this, with his unique art, he raised awareness of Ukrainian culture to a higher level more than any Ukrainian diplomat could have.

Archipenko was born in Kyiv, Ukraine in 1887. After studying painting and sculpture at Kyiv Art School, in 1908 he briefly attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. However, he quickly abandoned formal studies to become part of more radical circles, especially the Cubist movement. He began to explore the interplay between interlocking voids and solids and between convex and concave surfaces, forming a sculptural equivalent to Cubist paintings’ overlapping planes, thus revolutionizing modern sculpture. In his bronze sculpture Walking Woman (1912), for example, he pierced holes in the face and torso of the figure and substituted concavities for the convexities of the lower legs. The abstract shapes of his works have a monumentality and rhythmic movement that also reflect contemporary interest in the arts of Africa.

As he developed his style, Archipenko achieved an incredible sense of vitality out of minimal means: in works such as Boxing Match (1913), he conveyed the raw, brutal energy of the sport in nonrepresentational, machinelike cubic and ovoid forms. About 1912, inspired by the Cubist collages of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, Archipenko introduced the concept of collage in sculpture in his famous Medrano series, depictions of circus figures in multicolored glass, wood, and metal that defy traditional use of materials and definitions of sculpture. During that same period he further defied tradition in his “sculpto-paintings,” works in which he introduced painted color to the intersecting planes of his sculpture.

Archipenko was represented in the New York Armory Show of 1913 and in many international Cubist exhibitions. In 1921 he moved to Berlin and opened an art school. During that time his works were as famous in Europe as those of Picasso.

In 1923, Archipenko immigrated to the United States. He established an art school in New York City, and in the following year, moved it to Woodstock, NY. Showing his broad interests and widely inventive mind, he created and received a patent for changeable pictures (peinture changeante) known as Archipentura and Apparatus for Displaying Changeable Pictures. Besides working at his art, Archipenko devoted much time to teaching. He was in constant contact with various universities, among them those in Oakland, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago (the New Bauhaus School). In 1927 an exhibition of his works was arranged in Tokyo. In New York, he established a school of ceramics, Arko. In the 1930s, his work appeared in the Ukrainian Pavilion at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. In 1947, Archipenko created the first sculptures out of transparent materials (plastics) with interior illumination (modeling light). In the following years, Archipenko tried his hand at moving figures, which were mechanically rotating structures built of wood, mother of pearl, and metal. At Biennale d’Arte Trivenata in Padua, Italy, he received the gold medal. In later years, he again concentrated on industrial materials, in which he demonstrated his taste for dazzling polychromy. Juan Gris wrote about Archipenko’s influence on the art of the early 20th century: “Archipenko challenged the traditional understanding of sculpture. It was generally monochromatic at the time. His pieces were painted in bright colors. Instead of accepted materials such as marble, bronze or plaster, he used mundane materials such as wood, glass, metal, and wire. His creative process did not involve carving or modeling in the accepted tradition but nailing, pasting and tying together, with no attempt to hide nails, junctures or seams. His process parallels the visual experience of cubist painting.”

Archipenko never severed his ties with his countrymen. During his first years in Paris he was a member of the Ukrainian Students’ Club; in Berlin, a member of the Ukrainian Hromada; and in the United States, a member of the Ukrainian Artists’ Association in the USA. He belonged to the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences and was an honorary member of the Ukrainian Institute of America where he was exhibited multiple times.

Archipenko died February 25, 1964, in New York.

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Art @ the Institute. 20th Century Modern Ukrainian Art.

The Ukrainian Institute of America is pleased to present the 20th Century Modern Ukrainian Art Exhibit. The exhibition opened on September 28, 2013 at the Ukrainian Institute of America and is on display until November 13, 2013. This exhibit features works by Archipenko, Andreenko, Burliuk, Gritchenko, Hnizdovsky, Hutsaliuk, Olenska-Petryshyn, and Solovij. The Ukrainian Institute of America invites its members and the general public to a reception on October 29, 2013, from 6 to 8 p.m. marking one of the last opportunities to view this Exhibition.

Mykhailo ANDREENKO-NECHYTAILO (1894 – 1982)

Mykhailo Andreenko-Nechytailo was born in 1894 in Odessa, Ukraine.
He studied at the art school of the Society for the Promotion of the Arts in Saint Petersburg with N. Rerikh, A. Rylov, and I. Bilibin. In 1914–16 he exhibited the composition Black Dome and his first cubist works in Saint Petersburg and participated in an international graphics exhibition in Leipzig. From 1917–24 he devoted most of his time to designing stage sets for various theaters—in Saint Petersburg, Odessa, Prague, Paris, and for the Royal Opera in Bucharest. In 1923, Andreenko-Nechytailo moved to Paris, where he worked on films such as Casanova and Sheherazade and continued to paint in the cubist-constructivist style. In the 1930s Andreenko-Nechytailo produced a series of surrealist paintings. He switched to neorealism in the 1940s and painted a number of portraits as well as a series the cityscapes. Andreenko-Nechytailo`s work is characterized by a precision of composition that harmonizes subtly with color. His stage sets are remarkable for their laconic quality and architectural schematism, and his costume designs, for their richness. He died in 1982 in Paris, France.

Yuriy SOLOVIJ (1921-2008)

A graduate of the Lviv Arts and Crafts School (1944) and a postwar refugee in Germany and then the United States, Solovij experimented with several styles (postimpressionism, expressionism, abstract expressionism). He used mixed media in unusual combinations and was preoccupied with the themes of birth and death. His later works deal with the universality of pain in human life. Some of his characteristic works are Motherhood (1947), Astral (1948), Crucifixion (1950, 1969), and the series ‘1,000 Heads.’ Solo exhibitions of his works were held in New York (1959, 1965, 1970, 1972, 2000), Chicago (1960, 1972, 1980), Toronto (1963, 1972, 1973), Munich (1971), and Winnipeg (1973). His art criticism were published in the émigré press and separately as Pro rechi bil’shi nizh zori (About Things Greater than Stars, 1978).

Alexander ARCHIPENKO (1887-1964)

Archipenko was a Ukrainian avant-garde artist, sculptor, and graphic artist. He was born in Kyiv and attended the Kyiv Art School. A year later moved to Moscow where he participated in exhibitions with symbolists such as Kazimir Malevich and Mikhail Vrubel, and first was exposed to the work of artists from Paris such as Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, Gaugin, van Gogh and Matisse. Archipenko moved to Paris in 1908 and was a resident of La Ruche, a neighborhood of émigré Eastern European painters. During World War I, the artist sought exile in Nice, and then moved to Germany in 1921. He finally settled in the US where he lived until his death. In art, Archipenko departed from the neo-classical sculpture of his time, using faceted planes and negative space to create a new way of looking at the human figure, showing a number of views of the subject simultaneously. He is known for introducing sculptural voids, and for his inventive mixing of genres throughout his career: devising ‘sculpto-paintings’, and later experimenting with materials such as clear acrylic and terra cotta.

Jacques HNIZDOVSKY (1915-1985)

Hnizdovsky was a Ukrainian-American painter, printmaker, sculptor, ex libris designer, book illustrator, and art historian. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and Zagreb, and produced hundreds of paintings, as well as over 300 prints after his move to the United States in 1949. He was inspired by woodblock printing in Japan as well as the woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer. Hnizdovsky’s woodcuts frequently depict plants and animals, and the primary reason for this, in the beginning, after his arrival in the United States, was the lack of funds to pay for a human model. But what was first a substitute for the human form later became his primary subject matter. He was well known in the botanical gardens and zoos in New York, where he would find subjects willing to pose for no cost. The sheep from the Bronx Zoo went on to be the print Hnizdovsky was best known for, and it illustrated the poster for his very successful exhibition at the Lumley Cazalet Gallery in London.

Arcadia OLENSKA-PETRYSHYN (1934-1996)

Olenska-Petryshyn was a notable Ukrainian-American artist and critic. She was born in Galicia, Ukraine. An émigré to the US since 1950, she completed her studies at the University of Chicago. Most of her work consists of lithographs, graphics and oils. Her early works were abstract, then she depicted human figures with expressionless faces, recently she has been producing paintings of cacti and prints of plants and trees. Her paintings were displayed in the United States, Canada, Brussels, China and Ukraine.

David BURLIUK (1882 – 1967)

Burliuk was a one-eyed Ukrainian, avant-garde artist (Futurist and Neo-Primitivist), book illustrator, publicist, and author associated with Russian Futurism. From 1898 to 1904, Burliuk studied at the art schools in Kasan and in Odessa, as well as at the Royal Academy in Munich. His exuberant, extroverted character was recognized by Anton Azhbe, his professor at the Munich Acade- my, who called Burliuk a “wonderful wild steppe horse.” In 1909 Burliuk painted a portrait of his future wife, Marussia, on a back- ground of flowers and rocks on the Crimean coast. Many times thereafter he would set the image of his wife to canvas. Without question two dreams possessed his heart all his life: the face of his wife and the portrait of his homeland – first Ukraine and then his adopted country, the United States. From 1918 to 1922 he traveled to the USA via Siberia, Japan, and Canada. Burliuk died on Long Island, NY.

“Art at the Institute” is sponsored by the Ukrainian Institute of America.

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