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In the Boudoir (Before the Mirror)

Alexander Porfirevich Archipenko, American (born Ukraine), 1887 - 1964

Made in France, Europe


Oil, graphite, photograph, metal, and wood on panel

18 x 12 inches (45.7 x 30.5 cm)

© Estate of Alexander Archipenko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 272, Modern and Contemporary Art, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Christian Brinton, 1941

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In the Boudoir is a tour de force among the low-relief "sculpto-paintings" that Alexander Archipenko began constructing in 1914. The artist used the principle of Cubist collage to create a synthesis of painting and sculpture in these polychrome constructions. The angular fragmentation of planes and transposition of concave and convex forms in this work can be compared to similar forms in the paintings of Picasso, Braque, and Juan Gris. The work also contains a whimsical collage element in the form of a photograph of the dapper artist wearing a hat, which sits on the dressing table of the female nude coiffing her hair in the mirror.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Alexander Archipenko was a pioneering Cubist sculptor whose subjects were the traditional themes of heroic men and of women at their bath, but cast in the colorful, geometrized idiom of modernism. Working in Paris in the 1910s, he produced a number of compositions he called "sculpto-paintings"--brightly painted low-relief constructions using a variety of materials in which he sought to unify color and form. In In the Boudoir, Archipenko presents the private moment of a woman confronting her reflection. She exists in a complex space of sharp planes and jutting angles, in which the voids between objects have as much physical and chromatic reality as the objects themselves. Snippets of sheet metal create reflective surfaces, commercially printed paper forms a kind of table covering, and a collaged photograph of the artist himself sits on her dresser as both a visual signature and a sly insertion of the artist as idol. John B. Ravenal, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 311.

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