Three decades before Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman cosmonaut in history, flew to the stars on board the rocket Vostok 6, Archipenko created his sculpture ‘Torso in Space’ (1935-1936) – a streamlined abstract shape freeing the female form from conventional treatment into free suspension in light and space. 

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964), ‘Torso in Space’, 1935-1936 (cast posthumously by Sheidow, USA, in 1968, under the supervision of the Artist’s Estate) ©2020 Estate of Alexander Archipenko/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Stephenson.art, London

The Stephenson.art Frieze Masters Spotlight will focus on Archipenko’s (1887-1964) sculpture ‘Torso in Space’ and explore the artist’s lifelong endeavour to take a classical representation of the female figure beyond the limits of realism. The exhibition will draw upon the rich archives of the Archipenko Foundation and present works spanning five decades, many of which have rarely, if ever, been seen before in the public domain. 

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964), ‘Floating Figure’, 1935, inscribed ‘Archipenko’, silver-plated terracotta, Height 13 in. (32.2 cm), Executed in 1935, ©2020 Estate of Alexander Archipenko/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Stephenson.art, London

From 1909 to 1921 Archipenko lived in Paris where he pioneered landmark experiments in sculptural form and space alongside Picasso, Braque and Brancusi. It was during this time that he began to experiment with the theme of woman in space. When Katherine Dreier (1877-1952) and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) gave the artist his first American solo exhibition at the Société Anonyme in New York in 1921, Archipenko had become renowned as a Cubist sculptor, although he resisted being defined to a specific movement. Soon after he and his wife Angelika (Gela) Forster (1893-1957) emigrated to New York where they embarked on a period of intense activity; opening art schools in New York and Los Angeles, lecturing on creativity, teaching at the New Bauhaus Chicago and experimenting with unconventional materials like plexiglas and aluminium. The theme of woman in space continued to occupy Archipenko throughout these years in America, a period less known to a wider audience. 

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964), ‘Torso’ (Collage), 1954, inscribed ‘Archipenko’, wood, copper, aluminium, 18 x 28 in. (including frame) (45.7 x 71.1 cm including frame), Executed in 1954 ©2020 Estate of Alexander Archipenko/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Stephenson.art, London

A highlight of this period and the Stephenson.art Spotlight, is Archipenko’s ‘Torso in Space’ 1935-1936. The Whitney Museum of American Art acquired a terracotta of ‘Torso in Space’ in 1958; Stephenson.art will spotlight the life size work in bronze alongside related sculpture, collage, works on paper and lithography – exploring this subject in the artist’s oeuvre from 1909 to the end of his life. 

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964) ‘White Brush on Black V’, circa, 1960 [not signed]. White ink on black paper, 16 x 26 in. (40.5 x 65.9 cm). Executed circa 1960 ©2020 Estate of Alexander Archipenko/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Stephenson.art, London

The Archipenko Spotlight is organized with the support of the Archipenko Foundation, which will lend a number of works to the presentation. This series of work is also represented in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 

This exclusive online exhibition is hosted by the Frieze Masters Viewing Room. Preview: 7-8 October (invitation only). Free general admission: 9-16 October. For VIP and general admission registration, please follow the link https://viewingroom.frieze.com