©Estate of Alexander Archipenko / ARS, New York / JASPAR, Tokyo, 2020 C3304
© Estate of Alexander Archipenko / ARS, New York / JASPAR, Tokyo, 2020 C3304
This work is a smaller version of the life-sized sculpture that Archipenko showed in the 1914 Salon des Indépendants in Paris, to general astonishment. The subject is a Venetian gondolier; one magazine scathingly criticized it as "a weather vane for a factory chimney from a Venetian bazaar." Between the radically simplified, machine-like form and the sense of the metal material, the human figure has been rendered inorganic and geometrical. The oar, which cuts across at an angle, implies the motion of the gondolier as he rows and the gliding motion of the gondola; it expresses the essence of those motions abstractly and compactly. In the 1910s, Archipenko, Zadkine, and other avant-garde sculptors sought new forms, unlike those of traditional Western sculpture, with its basis in imitating nature, and contributed to the development of Cubism.