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Description

nscribed Archipenko, dated 1913 and numbered 1/10
Bronze, blue patina

Conceived in 1913 and cast during the artist's lifetime circa 1960.

Dimensions

Height: 41 1/4in. 104.8cm

Artist or Maker

ALEXANDER ARCHIPENKO (1887-1964)

Provenance

Albert Sanders, Great Neck (acquired from the artist)
Greer Gallery, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Notes

Literature:
Archipenko (exhibition catalogue), Perls Galleries, New York, 1962, no. 5, illustration of another cast
Archipenko (exhibition catalogue), Winnipeg Art Gallery, no. 8, another cast listed
Katherine Kuh, Alexander Archipenko: A Memorial Exhibition (exhibition catalogue), UCLA Art Galleries, Los Angeles, 1967-1969, no. 14, illustration of another cast p. 40
Donald H. Karshan, ed., Archipenko International Visionary, Washington D.C., 1969, illustration of another cast p. 36 and pl. 27
Donald H. Karshan, Archipenko: The Sculpture and the Graphic Art, Tübingen, 1974, illustration of another cast p. 37
Katherine Jànszky Michaelsen, Archipenko: A Study of the Early Works, 1908-20, 1977, illustration of another cast pl. S47
The Evelyn Sharp Collection (exhibition catalogue), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1978, no. 2, illustration of another cast
Alexander Archipenko Band 1 Alexander Archipenkos Erbe Werke von 1908 bis 1963 aus dem testamentarischen Vermächtnis, Moderne Galerie des Saarland Museums, Saarbrücken, 1986, no. 14, illustration of another cast p. 39
Anette Barth, Alexander Archipenkos plastisches Oeuvres, vol. II, Frankfurt am Main, 1997, no. 43, illustration of the plaster p. 95

Blue Dancer is an important work from 1913, conceived during what is commonly regarded as the most innovative period of Archipenko's career. Here, the artist has articulated the lithe body of a dancer in mid-movement, agilely balancing herself on her toes. The vibrant color and animation of this figure recall Matisse's famed La danse (see fig. 1), which the artist would have seen when it was exhibited in Paris in 1910. Created at the height of both the Cubist and Futurist movements, this compelling sculpture demonstrates the dynamic relationship between the figure and its surrounding space with a gracefulness reminiscent of the bronze dancers of Degas.

At the time he completed this work, Archipenko was living in Paris, and his experiences with the avant-garde had a profound effect on his artistic development. Of particular influence were the performances of the Cirque Médrano in Montmartre and Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, which also had a significant impact on the work of Léger and Picasso during the 1910s. Archipenko was inspired by these spectacles to execute a series of dancers, and no other motif figures as prominently in his oeuvre during this period. Many of these sculptures focus on the elegant contortions of the body and its interaction with surrounding space. One of his first works that explored this theme was Red Dance, 1912-1913, a hybrid of relief and three-dimensional sculpture created in red painted plaster and silhouetted against a blue background. Archipenko later recomposed this work, detaching the figure from its background plane and creating the form for Blue Dancer.

Katherine Jànszky Michaelsen has written the following about this work: "Like Red Dance, Blue Dancer is shown balancing on the toes of one foot, but this figure rests on a small circular plate atop a marble pedestal. The raised left arm has been added for balance. By changing the proportions of the legs, a triangular space was formed between the thighs. The V-shape of this leg is echoed by the bent right arm and mirrored by the raised left arm. Instead of the large polygonal space between arm and body seen in Red Dance, in this work there are three semi-enclosed, modeled spaces. Volumes alternate with similarly-shaped spaces and the two are complementary and interdependent. Compared to Red Dance, this figure is both more graceful and more realistic" (Katherine Jànszky Michaelsen, Archipenko: A Study of the Early Works 1908-20, New York, 1977, pp. 91-92).

Although conceived in 1913, the casting of the bronze edition of Blue Dancer did not begin until 1960 when Archipenko was living in New York. That year, the artist made a trip to France, where he learned the whereabouts of many of his original plasters that he had left behind in 1923 when he moved to the United States. He arranged to have these plasters, including that of the Blue Dancer, shipped to New York, where he began casting them in bronze. The casting was begun under the artist's supervision and was finished after his death in 1964 under the authority of his estate. Archipenko executed the present work in an edition of 8, plus one additional cast. The first six casts, including the present work, were executed during the artist's lifetime. The present bronze, which is numbered 1/10, was the first to be cast from the plaster and the only example that bears an edition number of 10. Subsequent casts of this work were marked with an edition number of 8.

COMPARABLES
Fig. 1, Henri Matisse, La danse (first version), oil on canvas, March 1909, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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