The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Frances Archipenko Gray.
Perls Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner on October 25, 1977
Los Angeles, UCLA Art Galleries, Alexander Archipenko: A Memorial Exhibition 1967-69, no. 14
New York, Eaton Fine Art, Inc., Alexander Archipenko, 2005, no. 2
Archipenko (exhibition catalogue), Perls Galleries, New York, 1962, no. 5, illustration of another cast
Donald H. Karshan, ed., Archipenko International Visionary, Washington D.C., 1969, illustration of another cast p. 36 and pl. 27
Donald H. Karshan, Archipenko: The Sculpture and the Graphic Art, Tübingen, 1974, illustration of another cast p. 37
Kartherine Jánszky Michaelsen, Archipenko: A Study of the Early Works, 1908-1920, New York, 1977, illustration of another cast pl. S47
The Evelyn Sharp Collection (exhibition catalogue), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1978, no. 2, illustration of another cast
Alexander Archipenko, Band I, Alexander Archipenkos Erbe Werke von 1908 bis 1963 aus dem testamentarischen Vermächtnis, Moderne Galerie des Saarland Museums, Saarbrücken, 1986, no. 14, illustration of another cast p. 39
Anette Barth, Alexander Archipenkos plastisches Oeuvres, vol. II, Frankfurt-am-Main, 1997, no. 43, illustration of the plaster p. 95
Blue Dancer is an important work from 1913, conceived during what is commonly regarded as the most innovative period of Archipenko's career. Here, the artist has articulated the lithe body of a dancer in mid-movement, agilely balancing herself on her toes. The vibrant color and animation of this figure recall Matisse's famed La danse, which the artist would have seen when it was exhibited in Paris in 1910. Created at the height of both the Cubist and Futurist movements, this compelling sculpture demonstrates the dynamic relationship between the figure and its surrounding space with a gracefulness reminiscent of the bronze dancers of Degas.
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, and 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, 1912-1913, 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.
Although conceived in 1913, the casting of the bronze edition of Blue Dancer did not begin until 1960 when Archipenko 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. According to Frances Archipenko Gray, Blue Dancer was executed in a bronze edition of 10, but the numbering of these casts was not consistent. The present work is one of four from this edition that the artist completed during his lifetime. Although the title of this work implies that all the casts are blue, the color of the patina varies throughout the edition, and several of the bronzes are green, gray or black.
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