Alexander Archipenko

Woman Combing her Hair


Not on display

Alexander Archipenko 1887–1964
Object: 356 × 86 × 83 mm
Purchased 1960

Catalogue entry

Alexander Archipenko 1887-1964

T00335 Woman combing her Hair 1915

Inscribed '3' and 'Archipenko 1914' on back of left leg
Bronze, 13 7/8 x 3 3/8 x 3 1/2 (35.2 x 8.5 x 9) including base
Purchased from the Obelisk Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1960
Prov: With Gérald Cramer, Geneva (purchased from the artist); with Grosvenor Gallery, London; with Obelisk Gallery, London
Exh: Pioneers of Modern Sculpture, Hayward Gallery, London, July-September 1973 (53, repr.)
Lit: Alexander Archipenko and fifty art historians, Archipenko:Fifty Creative Years 1908-1958 (New York 1960), p.52, repr. pl.146 as 'Woman combing her Hair' 1915; Katherine Jánszky Michaelsen, Archipenko: A Study of the Early Works 1908-1920 (New York and London 1977), No.S59, pp.70-1, 182, repr. as 'Standing Woman combing Hair' 1915
Repr: Theodor Däubler and Iwan Goll, Archipenko-Album (Potsdam 1921), pl.13 (terracotta) as 'Stehende Frau'; Erich Weise, Alexander Archipenko (Leipzig 1923), pl.9 as 'Statuette' 1915; Hans Hildebrandt, Alexander Archipenko (Berlin 1923), pl.14 as 'Stehende Frau' 1915

The artist told the compiler in July 1960 that this was the third bronze cast of an edition of twelve. It is the first version of this sculpture; he afterwards made a second version 63.5cm high, and a third 180.5cm high. Katherine J. Michaelsen added in a letter of 10 October 1975 that the 63.5cm version is in an edition of eight casts and the 180.5cm version in an edition of seven. In the catalogue of the memorial exhibition of his work circulated by the UCLA Art Galleries in the USA in 1967-9, it is stated that Archipenko made a number of variants of earlier sculptures in the period from 1950 to 1960, and that the 180.5cm version of this work was cast from plaster about 1952.

Although this cast appears to be dated, rather indistinctly, 1914, there are other casts which are either dated 1915 or have no date at all. The date usually given for this work, for instance by Weise and Hildebrandt, both in 1923, is 1915 and this seems to be correct.

Writing of his use of the 'new concave', Archipenko declared: 'In the year 1912 ... I conceived the way to enrich form by introducing significant modulation of the concave. The modulation of the concave, its outlines and whole patterns become an integral part, symbolically as important as the pattern of the elevations. This method I applied to reliefs and to three-dimensional figures [for example this work, which he cites]. As the result of many experiments, I obtained an entirely new and original type of sculpture with new esthetic, optical and spiritual expressions. The combining of positive and negative forms evolved into a new modern style.'

He also made in 1915 a related sculpture the same size called 'Seated Woman combing her Hair', which shows a similar figure partly supporting her weight on a block-like form and with both hands raised to her hair (Michaelsen No.S60).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.17-18, reproduced p.17


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