Catherine S. Gaines
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, 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 The papers include drafts, notes, and final manuscripts of published and unpublished writings, and notes, outlines, transcripts, and audio recordings of some of his lectures.
Correspondence concerns both personal and professional matters. Among Archipenko's personal correspondents are relatives and friends in the Ukraine, his 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 Similar documentation of unpublished writings, as well as notes, outlines, and some transcripts of lectures and talks are also in the series.
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 a 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, and printed matter.
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, and reproductions. 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
In 2002, the donated material previously loaned and microfilmed on reels NA1-NA25 was processed, arranged, and described by Catherine S. Gaines and the collection was remicrofilmed on reels 5826-5839. Judy Ng updated the arrangement of correspondence and the finding aid in 2014 with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Motion picture film reels were inspected and re-housed in 2016-2017 with funding provided by the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund.