This autumn, ML Fine Art will present an exhibition devoted to the work of Ukrainian-born, American artist, Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964), the artist’s first exhibition in Italy since 1963.
The exhibition, titled Archipenko in Italy, presents a selection of the artist’s sculptures, drawings and sculpto- paintings and is organized in collaboration with Stephenson art and with the support of the Archipenko Foundation, which will lend a number of works to the show.
The sculptor's works will be presented together with those of the artists who were most inspired by his example, including Umberto Boccioni, Gino Severini, Alberto Magnelli, Enrico Prampolini, Fortunato Depero, Giorgio De Chirico and Carlo Carrà.
This exhibition offers the first systematic examination of Archipenko's influence on Italian art in the first half of the century and will be accompanied by a catalog edited by Maria Elena Versari.
Many of the Futurists became friends with Archipenko in Paris at the beginning of the 1900s. His research in the field of avant-garde art was championed by Blaise Cendrars, André Salmon and Guillaume Apollinaire, the latter of whom was actually fired from his job at the newspaper where he worked in 1914 for defending Archipenko's works in its pages. The sculptor's relations with Alberto Magnelli are less well known, but highly significant. In 1914, Magnelli bought at the Salon des Indépendants three of Archipenko's most famous (and radical) works, exhibited. Among these was Boxers, on display at ML Fine Art.
Archipenko's unabated formal experimentations and his relations with the Futurists already before 1914 favored the spread of his fame in Italy. Particularly important was his invention of sculpto-painting which, starting from Cubist and Futurist research on the process of assemblage, arrived at a new form of multi- material art intended to bring together painting and sculpture. As Maria Elena Versari has suggested, and as other leading scholars in the field have reiterated, Giorgio De Chirico and Carlo Carrà were inspired by Archipenko's sculptures to create the famous mannequins that characterize Metaphysical Painting. In 1920, with his one-man show at the Venice Biennale, the sculptor's fame was definitively consecrated and he became the reference point for a generation of artists who, although linked to the avant-garde, did not shy away from the representation of the human body and its representation.
Indeed, we find references to Archipenko's ideas in many works of the second generation of Futurist artists, notably in those by painters such as Enrico Prampolini, Nicolay Diulgheroff, Fillia, Fortunato Depero, and by sculptors such as Mino Rosso, Regina and Thayaht.
The works of these Italian artists are juxtaposed in the spaces of via Montebello 30 with some masterpieces that Archipenko conceived in the early 1910s and typify the novelties that he introduced into modern sculpture: Draped Figure (1911) which influenced the sculptural research of Umberto Boccioni; the aforementioned Boxers (1914); and Seated Figure, conceived around 1913 and which reflects the layout of Archipenko's famous first assembled sculpture, Medrano I. The exhibition also features drawings and gouaches from the same period, which reveal Archipenko's ties with Italian Futurism as well as with Metaphysical Painting. Finally, the show features two polychrome sculpto-paintings that testify to the radical innovation Archipenko brought to the field of modern art.
Among the works of Italian art on display, we find Penelope by Carlo Carrà (1917) and Man with a hat by Alberto Magnelli (1914), the latter created at the time of the famous purchase of the Archipenko sculptures exhibited in the Parisian Salon, and which critics have recently identified as directly influenced by the experiments of Archipenko. The artist's production following WWI is illustrated by Torso in space (1935- 1946), a sculpture in aluminum, a material often used by Futurist artists. This work establishes a visual dialogue in the gallery spaces with the contemporary research on the human figure by Fillia, Prampolini, Diulgheroff and Depero.
A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue will feature an essay on the title theme and individual entries for Archipenko's works on display, authored by Dr. Maria Elena Versari, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History and Theory at Carnegie Mellon University.