Lot 34: Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)


June 21, 2005, 12:00 AM EST
London, United Kingdom
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Description: Kneeling Woman
bronze with a deep brown patina
Height: 13 3/4 in. (35 cm.)
Conceived in 1910 and cast in the artist's lifetime between 1910 and 1921 (see note below).
Artist or Maker: Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964)
Exhibited: Tel Aviv, The Tel Aviv Museum (on loan from Erich Goeritz, 1933-1956). Washington, National Gallery of Art, Alexander Archipenko: A Centennial Tribute, November - February 1987, no. 2 (illustrated in colour p. 146); this exhibtion later travelled to Tel Aviv, The Tel Aviv Museum, March - June).
Literature: M.Raynal, exh. cat. Alexandre Archipenko, Salle d'Exposition
de la Librairie Kundig, Geneva, 1919, no. 7 (the plaster version;
titled 'Femme agenouillée)
Fünfundneunzigste Ausstellung, Alexander Archipenko, Skulpturen, Skulpto-Malereien, Aquarelle, Tuschzeichnungen, Bleistiftzeichnungen, Berlin, Der Sturm, March 1921, no. 13 (another cast illustrated; titled Kniende Frau; dated 1910).
I. Goll (intro.), exh. cat., Alexander Archipenko: Retrospektive Ausstellung, Postdam, 1921, p. 10 (another cast illustrated, titled Kniende Frau; dated 1910).
I. Goll, Ma Aktivista Folyoirat, Vienna, VI, no. 6, April 25, 1921, p. 76.
Exh. cat., Alexander Archipenko - Lyonel Feininger, Frankfurt-am-Main, Kunstsalon Ludwig Schames, May 1922, no. 11 (another cast illustrated; titled Kniende Frau).
L. Mitzitch, Archipenko - Plastique Nouvelle, Belgrade, 1923, no. 6 (titled Femme agenouillée; dated 1909).
A. Archipenko (ed.), Archipenko: Fifty Creative Years, 1908-1958, New York, 1960 (illustrated pl. 75).
K.J. Michaelsen, Archipenko: A Study of the Early Works 1908-1920, New York and London, 1977, p. 157, no. S14 (plaster version illustrated).
D. Karshan, Archipenko: The Early Works: 1910-1921, The Erich Goeritz Collection at the Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, 1981, no. 1 (illustrated).
Provenance: (Probably) S.G. Falk, Geneva, by whom acquired from the artist.
Erich Goeritz, Berlin,(before 1933) and thence by descent to the present owner.

Kneeling Woman is a refined bronze with excellent casting definition and elegant form. This composition heralds the early phase of his mature style, elegant and fine of line, as Archipenko finally moves away from his cumbersome blocklike carvings of his early period. In this rare early piece, of which only this is the only known early cast, Archipenko defines the line and balance of his greatest final sculptures of the following decade: the torso of the Kneeling Woman is only one abstract step away from his pivotal Flat Torso of 1915 (fig. 1). Whilst commentators have suggested its roots lie firmly in classical sculpture (fig. 2) in truth it is an entirely modernist piece with a hint of art deco.
Although Archipenko noted other casts of the present piece, this particular cast is the only known lifetime bronze of Kneeling Woman (others have not been seen or are considered post-humous). Until the Sturm exhibition of March 1921 in Berlin only one plaster of the piece was know to exist (as shown in the Geneva/Zurich show of 1919/20). Indeed, until the 1920s, bronzes by Archipenko were rare with most non-assemblage pieces either being cast in plaster or carved in stone. It was in the 1920s that Archipenko discovered the physical beauty of cast metal and thereafter he experimented frequently with variously coloured casts and patinas of all his major pieces. He also became interested in the setting of his bronzes: here for example, Archipenko sets his finely patinated deep brown bronze in a deeply contrasted and very attractive blood red marble base.
The present piece was one of several works purchased by Erich Goeritz in the 1920s, almost certainly from Sally Falk, and has been on loan to the Tel Aviv Museum since 1933.

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