Born in 1887 in Kyiv, Ukraine, Alexander Archipenko started his career studying painting and sculpture at the Kyiv art school from 1902–1905, the foundation to an extensive trail of international exhibitions in the years to come. Quickly established as a renowned modernist sculptor in Europe, largely known for his experimentation with Cubism and three-dimensional form, Archipenko emigrated to the United States in 1923, one year after conceiving Woman with Folded Arms. He spent his time between Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Woodstock, New York, where he maintained a studio, taught summer school, and eventually opened an art school in 1938. Decades later in 1969, five years after The Aldrich first opened its doors, the Museum of Modern Art in New York purchased a portfolio of ten lithographs by Archipenko, Living Forms (Les Formes vivantes), 1963, through the Larry Aldrich Foundation Fund—a purchase fund established by Larry Aldrich to support the acquisitions of artists who were not already represented in MoMA’s collection.
On loan to The Aldrich by a private collector and longtime Ridgefield resident, Woman with Folded Armsdemonstrates Archipenko’s prowess and sensitivity in interpreting the body, where the figure’s apparent femininity is conditional to its strength. The woman’s tightly folded arms may be read as a sign of defense and self-protection or as an embrace suggestive of self-love, two crucial principles mirroring the citizens of Ukraine in our current moment as they struggle to protect and defend themselves, their loved ones, and their home. On the occasion of this artwork’s presentation, The Aldrich will be donating a portion of admissions to Doctors Without Borders through May 15, 2022.
Top image: Alexander Archipenko (1887–1964), Woman with Folded Arms, 1922, Bronze with reddish brown patina, Private collection