American (born in Ukraine), 1887–1964
Boxers (The Fight), 1914
59.5 x 41.9 x 41.2 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Acquired with funds from the Alpha Omega Women's Alumnae, the Ukrainian Community of Winnipeg and The Winnipeg Foundation
Alexander Archipenko was one of the most innovative and independent European sculptors of the early twentieth century. Born in Kiev in present-day Ukraine, he studied at the Kiev Art School before moving to Paris where he joined other émigré Russian artists. He became associated with the avant-garde in the city, experimenting with a variety of styles and techniques including Cubism and Expressionism. Boxers, produced in 1914, demonstrates how Archipenko had begun to radically pare down his figures into geometric forms and hollowed-out spaces to create connections between solid and void. Here, the two fighters—represented by dynamic, interlocking planes and angles—are pierced with open cavities revealing the physical tension between the sculpted and negative spaces. At this stage in his work, Archipenko was interested in and inspired by the primitive and highly expressive forms of African carvings.