Size: 19.5 Linear feet
Summary: The Alexander Archipenko papers measure 19.5 linear feet and date from 1904 to 1986, with the bulk of materials dating from 1930 to 1964. The sculptor's personal and professional life is documented by correspondence, financial records, scrapbooks, printed matter, and photographs documenting his art, exhibitions, travel, teaching activities, and the Archipenko Art School. Archipenko wrote and lectured extensively about his philosophies of art and the relationship between art and nature. The papers include drafts, notes, and final manuscripts of published and unpublished writings, and notes, outlines, transcripts, and audio recordings of some of his lectures.
Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964) was the son of an engineer/inventor and grandson of an icon painter. Among the first modern sculptors of the 20th century to be associated with the Cubist movement, Archipenko was known for his innovative use of concave space. His major contribution was the realization of negative form through use of a hole to create a contrast of solid and void. His sculpto-paintings united form and color; begun in 1912, these polychromed constructions are among the earliest mixed-media works known, and sometimes incorporated objects. Eventually, his Cubist-inspired work evolved into the simplified, abstract shapes for which he is best known. Although known primarily as a sculptor, Archipenko produced paintings, drawings, and prints as well.
In 1967, the Alexander Archipenko papers, previously on deposit at Syracuse University, were loaned to the Archives of American Art for microfilming by his widow Frances Archipenko Gray. In 1982, Ms. Gray donated most of the material previously loaned and microfilmed to the Archives of American Art, along with additional items.
Among the holdings of the Archives are the Donald H. Karshan papers relating to Alexander Archipenko, originally accessioned as part of the Alexander Archipenko papers, but later separated to form a distinct collection.
The Archives also has the National Collection of Fine Arts records relating to Alexander Archipenko. The Archives of American Art also holds microfilm of material lent for microfilming (reels NA11-NA12, NA16-NA18, and NA 20-NA22) including biographical material, correspondence, exhibition records, writings, printed material and photographs. Loaned materials were returned to the lender and are not described in the collection container inventory.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Glass plate negatives in this collection were digitized in 2019 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Women's Committee.