Alexander Archipenko
Archipenko in 1935
Oleksandr Porfyrovych Arkhypenko

May 30 [O.S. May 18] 1887
DiedFebruary 25, 1964(1964-02-25) (aged 76)
EducationKyiv Art School
Known forSculpture
Notable workThe Boxers, 1914
ElectedAmerican Academy of Arts and Letters (1962)

Alexander Porfyrovych Archipenko (also referred to as Olexandr, Oleksandr, or Aleksandr; Ukrainian: Олександр Порфирович Архипенко, romanizedOleksandr Porfyrovych Arkhypenko; May 30 [O.S. May 18] 1887 – February 25, 1964) was a Ukrainian-American avant-garde artist, sculptor, and graphic artist, active in France and the United States.[1][2][3][4] He was one of the first to apply the principles of Cubism to architecture, analyzing human figure into geometrical forms.[5]


La Vie Familiale (Family Life), 1912, height approx. 6 feet (1.8 m). Exhibited at the 1912 Salon d'Automne, Paris and the 1913 Armory Show in New York City, Chicago and Boston. Photograph from Comœdia Illustré (1912) of the original sculpture, later accidentally destroyed

Alexander Archipenko was born in Kyiv (Russian Empire, now Ukraine) in 1887, to Porfiry Antonowych Archipenko and Poroskowia Vassylivna Machowa Archipenko; he was the younger brother of Eugene Archipenko.

From 1902 to 1905 he attended the Kyiv Art School (KKhU). In 1906 he continued his education in the arts at Serhiy Svetoslavsky (Kyiv), and later that year had an exhibition there with Alexander Bogomazov. He then moved to Moscow where he had a chance to exhibit his work in some group shows.

Archipenko moved to Paris in 1908[6] and quickly enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts, which he left after a few weeks.[7] He was a resident in the artist's colony La Ruche, among émigré Ukrainian artists: Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine, Sonia Delaunay-Terk and Nathan Altman. After 1910 he had exhibitions at Salon des Indépendants, Salon d'Automne together with Aleksandra Ekster, Kazimir Malevich, Vadym Meller, Sonia Delaunay-Terk, Georges Braque, André Derain and others.

In 1912, Archipenko had his first personal exhibition at the Museum Folkwang at Hagen in Germany, and from 1912 to 1914 he was teaching at his own Art School in Paris.

Untitled, 1912, published in Action, Cahiers individualistes de philosophie et d'art, October 1920
Recherche de plastique, 1913. Exhibited at Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon, Berlin, 1913, an exhibition organized by Herwarth Walden (Galerie Der Sturm), including Metzinger, Delaunay, Gleizes, Léger, Marcoussis and Picabia

Four of Archipenko's Cubist sculptures, including Family Life and five of his drawings, appeared in the controversial Armory Show in 1913 in New York City. These works were caricatured in the New York World.[8]

Archipenko moved to Nice in 1914. In 1920 he participated in Twelfth Biennale Internazionale dell'Arte di Venezia in Italy and started his own Art school in Berlin the following year. In 1922 Archipenko participated in the First Russian Art Exhibition in the Gallery van Diemen in Berlin together with Aleksandra Ekster, Kazimir Malevich, Solomon Nikritin, El Lissitzky and others.

In 1923, he emigrated to the United States.[6] He became a US citizen in 1929. In 1933 he exhibited at the Ukrainian pavilion in Chicago as part of the Century of Progress World's Fair. Alexander Archipenko contributed the most to the success of the Ukrainian pavilion. His works occupied one room and were valued at $25,000 dollars.[9]

In 1936 Archipenko participated in an exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art in New York as well as numerous exhibitions in Europe and other places in the U.S. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1962.[10]

Alexander Archipenko died on February 25, 1964, in New York City.[6] He is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City.

Contribution to art

Statuette, 1916
(center) Jean Metzinger, c.1913, Le Fumeur (Man with Pipe), Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; (left) Alexander Archipenko, 1914, Danseuse du Médrano (Médrano II), (right) Archipenko, 1913, Pierrot-carrousel, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Published in Le Petit Comtois, 13 March 1914

Archipenko, along with the French-Hungarian sculptor Joseph Csaky, exhibited at the first public manifestations of Cubism in Paris; the Salon des Indépendants and Salon d'Automne, 1910 and 1911, being the first, after Picasso,[11] to employ the Cubist style in three dimensions.[6][12] 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. Inspired by the works of Picasso and Braque, he is also credited for introducing the collage to wider audiences with his Medrano series.[13][14]

The sculptor Ann Weaver Norton apprenticed with Archipenko for a number of years.[15]

Public collections

Among the public collections holding works by Alexander Archipenko are:

Archipenko's 14.5-foot (4.4 m) tall cubist statue of King Solomon is installed at the University of Pennsylvania campus. Archipenko began work on a smaller prototype of the statue in 1964, but died before the work was finished, leaving his wife to oversee its completion. The full-sized statue was completed in 1968 and was donated to the university in 1985.[17]


Further reading


  1. ^ "Alexander Archipenko". Britannica. 2022. Retrieved 2023-02-16. Ukrainian-American artist
  2. ^ Marter, Joan (2003), "Archipenko, Alexander", Oxford Art Online, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.t003752, retrieved 2023-02-16
  3. ^ "Archipenko, Aleksandr". Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. 2011-10-31. doi:10.1093/benz/9780199773787.article.b00006597. ISBN 978-0-19-977378-7. Ukrainian, 20th century, male. Active in France and in the USA.
  4. ^ P. Lagasse, & Columbia University. "Archipenko, Alexander". The Columbia Encyclopedia (8th ed.). Columbia University Press. Retrieved 2023-02-16. Ukrainian-American sculptor
  5. ^ Oxford illustrated encyclopedia. Judge, Harry George., Toyne, Anthony. Oxford [England]: Oxford University Press. 1985–1993. p. 21. ISBN 0-19-869129-7. OCLC 11814265.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ a b c d "Finding Aid". Alexander Archipenko papers, 1904–1986, (bulk 1930–1964). Archives of American Art. 2011. Retrieved 17 Jun 2011.
  7. ^ "Alexander Archipenko". Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  8. ^ Donald H. Karshan, Archipenko, Content and Continuity 1908–1963, Kovlan Gallery, Chicago, 1968. p. 40.
  9. ^ Halich, W. (1937) Ukrainians in the United States, Chicago ISBN 0-405-00552-0
  10. ^ "Deceased Members". American Academy of Arts and Letters. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved July 30, 2011.
  11. ^ File:Womans Head Picasso.jpg Picasso, Woman's Head, modeled on Fernande Olivier
  12. ^ The Archipenko Foundation, Chronology, 1910–1914 Archived 2013-05-31 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Alexander Archipenko | Ukrainian-American artist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-12-13.
  14. ^ "Médrano II". Guggenheim. 1913-01-01. Retrieved 2019-12-13.
  15. ^ Jules Heller; Nancy G. Heller (19 December 2013). North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-63882-5.
  16. ^ "artist:"Alexander Archipenko" | Minneapolis Institute of Art". Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  17. ^ Isaac Kaplan (1 December 2011). "Campus Gems: King Solomon Statue".