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Alexander Archipenko papers, 1904-1986, bulk, 1930-1964

Alexander Archipenko papers, 1904-1986, bulk, 1930-1964

Archipenko, Alexander, 1887-1964

Sculptor, Etcher

Collection Information

Size: 19.5 linear feet

Biographical/Historical Note

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964) was a sculptor, painter, printmaker, and teacher. Significant in Cubist movement during his years in Paris, 1908-1921; came to United States in 1923; operated his own school in Paris, 1912, an endeavor that continued throughout his life in Berlin, New York City, Woodstock, N.Y., Chicago, and Los Angeles. Invented animated painting, known as "Archipentura," circa 1924 (U.S. patent issued 1927).

Provenance

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.

Related Materials

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.

Funding

Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Scope and Contents

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, photographs, and motion picture film 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 The papers include drafts, notes, and final manuscripts of published and unpublished writings, and notes, outlines, transcripts, and audio recordings of some of his lectures.

Correspondence concerns both personal and professional matters. Among Archipenko's personal correspondents are relatives and friends in the Ukraine, wife Angelica during her extended stays in Mexico and California, and other women. Professional correspondence is with dealers, curators, scholars, collectors, colleges and universities concerning exhibitions, sales and commissions, loans, and teaching and lecture engagements.

Archipenko wrote and lectured extensively about his philosophy of art, art in nature, and theories concerning creativity and the universe. His papers include manuscripts, drafts, notes and supporting materials for his book published in 1960, "Archipenko: Fifty Creative Years, 1908-1958." Similar documentation of unpublished writings, as well as notes, outlines, and some transcripts of lectures and talks are also in the series, as well as a motion picture film of an interview with Archipenko.

Records concerning the Archipenko Art School are sparse, with only one photograph of students in Berlin, 1921. Surviving records include printed matter, a cashbook, student roster, and scrapbook containing photographs, printed matter, and typescript copy of a statement by Archipenko, "How I Teach." Most of this material focuses on the New York and Woodstock schools, with only a few items concerning Chicago. In addition, files regarding Archipenko's teaching activities at schools other than his own include course descriptions, student rosters, grades, printed matter, and motion picture film.

Financial records consist of banking records, paid bills, and miscellaneous items. Paid bills include invoices and receipts for art supplies, shipping, and storage. Among the miscellaneous items are price lists, royalties paid by the Museum of Modern Art for "Woman Combing Her Hair", and sales records.

Nine scrapbooks contain clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, lecture notices, advertisements and brochures of the Archipenko Art School, and a small number of photographs. Printed matter consists primarily of clippings about Archipenko and exhibition catalogs with related announcements and invitations. Miscellaneous items include books about Archipenko, catalogs of museum collections containing works by Archipenko, reproductions, and a motion picture film related to an exhibition in Darmstadt. Of special interest is a brochure about the Multiplex Advertising Machine that bears a similarity to the Archipentura, an "apparatus for displaying Changeable Pictures" Archipenko invented circa 1924 and patented in 1927.

Photographs are of people, Archipenko's travels and miscellaneous places, exhibitions, works of art, events, and miscellaneous subjects. Five photograph albums mainly document travels. Slides and transparencies include black and white lantern slides probably used to illustrate lectures.

Biographical papers include a wide variety of records concerning Archipenko and his first wife, Angelica Archipenko (a.k.a. Gela Forster), and second wife, Frances Gray Archipenko, including ephemera, funeral guest registers, real estate records, and floor plans of their house in Woodstock, New York; legal documents including residency permits issued during Archipenko's years in France; passports and wills: articles by and about Angelica Archipenko and a color reproduction of her portrait by Leo Katz; Angelica's reminiscences of Walter Spies; and excerpts from her diaries.

The collection is available on 35 mm microfilm reels 5826-5839, and NA11-NA12, NA16-NA18, and NA20-NA22 at Archives of American Art offices, and through interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of the papers as described in this finding aid may not reflect the order of the collection on microfilm due to reprocessing.

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. research facility. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice. Lantern slides and glass plate negatives are housed separately and closed to researchers.

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