An energetic teacher and pioneering modernist sculptor of abstract human forms, he created one of the first multi-media sculptures, composing it of wood, glass, and wire. He experimented continuously with the effects of negative and positive space. He began his career with a Cubist style and then turned to simplified, abstract shapes with hollowed out parts of the bodies, especially where one might expect curves.
His American works include "Archipentura," a machine he invented in 1924 that showed paintings in motion.
He was born in Kiev, Russia and studied art there between 1902 and 1905. In 1908, he arrived in Paris and worked with Amedeo Modigliani and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. By 1909, he was creating the abstract figures for which he became most known, with his principal subjects being variations of 'Torsos in Space.'
He exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Independants, and in 1912, he and the Duchamp brothers formed a group called Section d'Or, a dissident Cubist group with which he exhibited for several years. That same year, he opened his own art school in Paris and had a one man show in Hagen, Germany. He also exhibited in the Armory Show in New York in 1913 and lived in Nice, France from 1914 to 1918.
In 1921 he moved to Berlin where he opened another art school and in 1923 immigrated to the United States and founded an art school in New York City as well as other locations including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Woodstock. He became an American citizen, living most of the remainder of his life in New York, but he taught short courses in numerous schools around the country including the Universities of Kansas City, Delaware, Washington, and Oregon.He became a United States citizen in 1928. Most of Archipenko’s work in German museums was confiscated by the Nazis in their purge of “degenerate art.” In 1947, he produced the first of his sculptures that are illuminated from within. He accompanied an exhibition of his work throughout Germany in 1955–56, and at this time began his book Archipenko: Fifty Creative Years 1908–1958, published in 1960. Archipenko died February 25, 1964, in New York.