Gondolier; Alexander Archipenko; 1914; M1964/1


Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki



About this object

Archipenko began his training in Russia, moving from Kiev to Moscow because he had difficulty in accepting the academicism of his instructors. Although he exhibited in several group shows in Moscow, he was still dissatisfied, and by 1908 he had established himself in Paris, where he again rejected popular contemporary styles epitomised by sculptors such as Rodin. At this time the lively and radical issue of Cubism, involving the reduction of forms to a fundamental geometric structure, as seen in Picasso's bronze Head of a Woman, 1909, proved a revolutionary moment for many artists. Although he was initially drawn to Cubist treatments of form, Boccioni's Futurist manifesto of 1912, La scultura futurista, caused Archipenko to reject Cubism and led him to focus instead on the manner in which the human form can be represented by intersecting planes, curving planar forms and cone- and wedge-shaped elements. A smaller replica of Archipenko's original sculpture, Gondolier explores the relation of space within the figure, and demonstrates the way in which light is caught on the various surfaces of the form. This focus on the play of light on form is also reflective of a more ancient influence, the visual effects found in the Byzantine culture of his youth. Archipenko took part in several Futurist exhibitions in Italy, even though Boccioni was to eventually declare that 'the sculpture of Archipenko has fallen into archaism and barbarism'. (from The Guide, 2001)


Alexander Archipenko

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Subject and Association Description

gondoliers, figures

Credit Line

Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, purchased 1964

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