Though primarily recognized for his innovative contributions as a sculptor, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art is presently celebrating Alexander Archipenko’s graphic works in its latest exhibition, “Formes Vivantes.” A modest display featuring fifteen of Archipenko’s fifty-four print works, “Formes Vivantes” focuses primarily on the artist’s later pieces, ten of which were completed during a residency at the Galerie Im Erker in Switzerland, one year before his death in 1964. The size of these sketches intensifies the artist’s use of negative space, bestowing an unexpected depth to the sweeping, sloping lines of the images. “Two Figures,” a monumental lithograph from 1921 and easily one of the exhibit’s highlights, is striking in its simultaneous strength and delicacy, featuring two colossal, muscular nude women gazing at one another, crouched in a moment of intimacy. The “Formes Vivants” prints, which deeply reflect Archipenko’s sculptural work, taunt the eye with their lack of color and clutter, relying on simple shading and heavily geometric styling to allude to the power of the artist’s subjects and their potential for movement. These works, simply and sparsely displayed, offer visitors to the Ukrainian Institute a rare opportunity to view a side of a since-passed avant-garde master, one who is more than deserving of a popular resurrection. (Jaime Calder)
“Formes Vivantes: Alexander Archipenko as Graphic Artist” shows at The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 West Chicago, through August 10.