At the time he completed this work, Archipenko was living in Paris, and his experiences with the avant-garde had a profound effect on his artistic development. Of particular influence were the performances of the Cirque Médrano in Montmartre and Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, which also had a significant impact on the work of Léger and Picasso during the 1910s. Archipenko was inspired by these spectacles to execute a series of dancers. Indeed no other motif figures as prominently in his oeuvre during this period. Many of these sculptures focus on the elegant contortions of the body and its interaction with surrounding space. One of his first works that explored this theme was Red Dance, 1912-13, a hybrid of relief and three-dimensional sculpture created in red painted plaster and silhouetted against a blue background. Archipenko later recomposed this work, detaching the figure from its background plane and creating the form for Blue Dancer.
While Blue Dancer was conceived in 1913, the artist did not begin casting the work until 1960 when he was living in New York. That year, the artist made a trip to France, where he learned the whereabouts of many of his original plasters that he had left behind in 1923 when he moved to the United States. He arranged to have these plasters, including that of the Blue Dancer, shipped to New York, where he began casting them in bronze. The casting was begun under the artist's supervision and was finished after his death in 1964 under the authority of his estate.
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