- Alexander Archipenko
- Seated Concave
- Inscribed Archipenko., dated 1916, numbered 3/8, inscribed Paris and stamped with the artist's runes
Katherine Jánszky Michaelsen, Archipenko, A Study of the Early Works, 1908-1920, New York, 1977, no. S73, illustration of the smaller terracotta version
Seated Concave, conceived in 1916 and cast during the artist's lifetime, epitomizes the theories of the "new concave" that Archipenko developed in 1912. Archipenko created a new way of looking at the human figure through a number of simultaneous views and the combination of positive and negative forms into a new modern whole, symbolizing the absent form and evoking unprecedented dynamism and volume. In this way, Seated Concave references Bergson's ideas of the void as a symbol of the absent form: there can be no convex without the concave, and the positive and negative are of equal force. "Thus, the problem of knowledge is complicated, and possibly made insoluble, by the idea that order fills a void and that its actual presence is superimposed on its virtual absence" (Henry Bergson, Creative Evolution, New York, 1913 p. 273).
The sculpture retains a clear geometric character but exudes an organic litheness. The sharp lines of the figure's thighs and hips rise as the sculpture eases into a deep concave form. Still, the classical iconography of the seated nude is not sacrificed. The present lifetime cast bears a vibrant blue-green patina, the application of which Archipenko was closely involved with. It was acquired by the present owner from Archipenko himself only weeks before his death in 1964.
Fig. 1 Archipenko carving a statuette in his Paris studio in 1909.