Thursday, December 11, 2008


Woman Combing Her Hair, 1915
Alexander Archipenko (American, 1887-1964)
bronze, 13 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 3 1/8" (35 x 8.3 x 8 cm) including base
Museum of Modern Art

Archipenko was born in Ukraine, moving to Paris when he had a spout of difference in the art world in Ukraine. He ultimately ended up in New York where the majority of his career took place. I mention all of this, as it is pertinent to part of my job. I was cataloging a book on Archipenko to discover we had him catalogued under Russia, most likely the first volume we catalogued was before Ukraine was an option. Discussion ensued as to whether we should retroactively change these headings. I initially wanted to put him under Ukraine. ULAN (Union List of Artist Names) places him in this position but other sources such as MoMA name him American. It's an interested question as to whether an artist is categorized under his/her country of origin or his country of work, since we are interested in the work, the majority of professional time spent somewhere ultimately rules. Boring? Sometimes.

Anyway, I haven't spent a lot of time with Archipenko's work but I like the cubist smoothness in this particular piece. In some ways you can see it as a Picasso Cubist Lady in three dimensional form yet the edging and geometric shape which creating the negative space where the head should be, I find interesting. "The introduction of space into interior forms in these works, linking front and back, inside and outside, constitutes one of Archipenko's major contributions to twentieth-century sculpture and parallels contemporaneous inventions in the art of Umberto Boccioni and Naum Gabo" (Nasher Sculpture Center) I love the sculpture from the waist down as well, the curve of the thighs almost cutting off at the knees and shifting to sharpher more geometric form of the lower leg.

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