Lot 8
  • 8

Alexander Archipenko

500,000 - 700,000 USD
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  • Alexander Archipenko
  • Gondolier
  • Inscribed with the signature Archipenko, dated 1914 and numbered 5/6
  • Bronze
  • Height: 62 1/8 in.
  • 157.8 cm


Acquired from the artist by the family of the present owner in 1964


Georges Vantongerloo, De Stijl, vol. II, 1918, no. 10, illustration of another cast pl. XVI

Fannina W. Haller, "Kandinsky, Archipenko, Chagall," Die Bildenden Künste, vol. IV, 1920, nos. 11-12, illustration of another cast p. 180

Theodor Däubler & Ivan Goll, Archipenko-Album, Potsdam, 1921, illustration of another cast pl. 5

Michel Seuphor, La sculpture du siècle, Neuchâtel, 1959, illustration of another cast p. 26

Alexander Archipenko (ed.), Archipenko, Fifty Creative Years 1908-1958, New York 1960, illustration of another cast pl. 142

Donald H. Karshan (ed.), Archipenko International Visionary, Washington, 1969, pp. 17, 19-20, 47 and 49, pl. 47, illustration of another cast pp. 47 and 56, pl. 64

Donald H. Karshan, Archipenko, The Sculpture and Graphic Art, Tübingen, 1974, illustrated pp. 11-12, 15, 18, 23, 32, 36, 149 and 156, illustration of another cast pp. 10 and 149

Bernard Dorival, "Alexander Archipenko," Bulletin de la Société de l'Histoire de l'Art français, 1975 (Année 1974), no. 34, illustrated p. 206, illustration of another cast p. 208

Katherine J. Michaelson, Archipenko, A study of the Early Works 1908-20, New York, 1977, illustration of another cast pl. S54

Michael Frank, "Return Engagement: An Eclectic Design for a Classic New York Apartment Evolves Over Two Decades," Architectural Digest, November 1998, illustrated in color pp. 246- 253


Excellent condition. The bronze has a uniform, black patina. Apart from a small line of nearly imperceptible nicks on the base along side the figure's foot and some insignificant porosity on the figure's arm, inherent to the medium, this sculpture is clean and structurally sound.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The years 1913 and 1914 have been described by scholars as the highpoint of Archipenko's creativity. This was the period of his most important and successful work that established him on the Paris scene as a pioneer of modern sculpture. In the spring of 1914 at the Salon des Indépendants, Archipenko showed what are considered four of his finest works: Carrousel Pierrot, Boxing, Médrano II and the original plaster version of the present work, painted black. Describing Archipenko's achievement during this period Katherine Jánszky Michaelsen and Nehama Guralnik, have written: "He initiated the opening-up of sculpture, not just by piercing a hole into it, but by presenting an alternative to the traditional notion of the monolith that merely displaces space... In the fertile artistic environment of Paris, under the aegis of cubism, Archipenko was always among the first to perceive a new possibility in sculpture and initiate its development" (K. Jánszky Michaelson and N. Guralnik, Alexander Archipenko: A Centennial Tribute (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Tel Aviv Museum, 1987, pp. 45-46).

The title of the present work itself suggests the idea of swift movement through water, yet the majestic figure of the Gondolier is stationary and immobile, revealing another mood similar to Boxers and Dance. The fusion of the gondolier's second leg and his oar reveals Archipenko's exploration of the Futurist concept of simultaneity. Archipenko never merely transferred Cubist theories from painting to sculpture, but rather invented his own form of three-dimensional Cubism. The figure of the Gondolier is constructed with architectural precision from what he describes as "a series of sharp-edged tapering elements contrasting with rounded tubular ones. The disjointed quality of the components, especially the abrupt break at the knees, is reminiscent of Geometric Statuette, 1914... However, Gondolier is less overtly Cubist and has some of the robot-like quality of Carrousel Pierrot" (K. J. Michaelsen, Archipenko, A Study of the Early Works, 1908-1920, New York, 1977, p. 98).