Sunday, August 07, 2005

Archipenko in a new space

New York's Ukrainian Museum reopened this year in a sparkling new building on East 6th Street. While my memory is a bit fuzzy, I think the last time I saw this collection was in 1998 on a class trip, and I remember being slightly embarrassed by the tiny space afforded the museum back then. It's still no Met, but there's more room to breathe now.

On display at the moment are works by Kyiv-born sculptor Alexander Archipenko, who spent time in Paris and upstate New York, and died in 1964. The collection is pretty exhaustive, showing the artist's different styles and media. Many of his pieces reminded me a lot of those by his more well-known contemporary Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi -- the geometric forms, the minimal features, the sense of sleek movement through space. Compare, for instance, Archipenko's Torso in Space -- a design he returned to again and again in 2-D as well as 3-D works -- to Brancusi's Bird in Space.

There are also echoes of cubism and Modigliani. And I especially liked how he worked with positive and negative space in constructing some human-form pieces where the thing in the title was evoked not by the sculptor's material but by the empty space inside it.

Besides the two floors of Archipenko's work, there was a lower-level display of pysanky, the finely detailed Ukrainian Easter eggs. But other than that, the rest of the permanent collection appeared to be in storage. The guy at the desk said more of the traditional textiles would be on display in the next exhibit this fall. I sort of wished there had been more to see, but I'm glad I stopped in.


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Danica said...
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