top of page

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964) was a Ukrainian - born american avant-garde artist, sculptor and graphic artist.
He was one of the first to apply the principles of Cubism to architecture, analyzing human figure into geometrical forms.
Alexander Archipenko was born in 1887 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Studied art at the Kyiv Art School in 1902/1905. In 1906 moved to Moscow, and in 1908 to Paris. Studied briefly at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and then settled on learning sculpture techniques via self-study in the Louvre. In 1910 he exhibited his works with a group of Cubists at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants and then exhibited his works there annually until 1914. In 1911 his works appeared also at the Salon d'Automne. In 1912 Archipenko joined a new artistic group La Section d'Or, which numbered among its members P. Picasso, G. Braque, J. Gris, F. Léger, R. Delaunay, R. de la Fresnaye, J. Villon, F. Picabia, and M. Duchamp, and participated in the group's exhibitions. In 1912 Archipenko opened his own school of sculpture in Paris. His first one-man show took place in Hagen, Germany in 1912, where he displayed his Medrano I, the first modern sculpture made of various polychromed materials. Next year he had a one-man show at Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin. In 1913 his work appeared at Armory Show in New York. During the First World War he lived in Cimiez near Nice, where, in 1917, he developed a cubist play, La Vie Humaine; he returned to Paris in 1918. From 1919 to 1921 Archipenko`s works were exhibited in many cities throughout Europe. In 1920 he had a solo show at the Ukrainian Pavillon at the Venice Biennal. In 1921 Archipenko moved to Berlin, where he established a school of sculpture. Most of Archipenko's work in German museums was confiscated and destroyed by the Nazis in their purge of "degenerate art ". In 1923 Archipenko moved to the United States. He established a school in New York, and in the following year, he moved near Woodstock, New York. In 1924, Archipenko invented his first kinetic work, Archipentura. For the next 30 years, he taught throughout the United States at art schools and universities, including the short-lived New Bauhaus. In 1933 his work appeared in the Ukrainian Pavilion at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. In 1937 he moved to Chicago, where he opened his Modern School of Fine Arts and Practical Design. In 1947, he produced the first of his sculptures that are illuminated from within. He accompanied an exhibition of his work throughout Germany in 1955-56, and at this time began his book Archipenko: Fifty Creative Years 1908-1958, published in 1960. Wherever he lived, Archipenko was always active in the Ukrainian community. Many of his works have Ukrainian themes, e.g the relief Ukraine (1940), four busts of Taras Shevchenko, busts of Ivan Franko and Prince Volodymyr the Great, and portraits of Ukrainian public figures. Associated with the cubist movement, Archipenko departed from the classical sculpture design of his time and introduced negative space to create a new way of looking at the human figure, showing a number of views of the subject simultaneously. Archipenko recognized the aesthetic value of the void - the hollowed-out shape or perforation as a complement to the bulging mass - as exemplified by his Madonna in marble and the bronze Woman Combing Her Hair (1915, Museum of Modern Art, New York City). He is also known for introducing his inventive mixing of genres all through his career: devising `sculpto-paintings`, and later experimenting with materials such as clear acrylic and terra cotta. Archipenko died in New York in 1964.

Alexander Archipenko biography

May 30, 1887
Kiev, Ukraine
February 25, 1964
New York, USA

Painter, sculptor


bottom of page