A Gallery Tour, Continued.

So here we are among the works by artists originally displayed as part of the Jack (or Knave) of Diamonds exhibition in Moscow. The notes for each painting are taken from the exhibition cards of the Courtauld Gallery, London.

Mikhail Larionov’s (1881-1964) work below was displayed along with Still life in a Major Key at the Golden Fleece exhibition in Moscow in 1910. The Russian avant-garde artists had an abiding interest in the union of music and painting.

Still life in a minor key, by Mikhail Larionov. (1909).

Still life in a minor key, by Mikhail Larionov. (1909).

This painting was in the first Jack of Diamonds exhibition in Moscow from December 1910 – January 1911. “The nude female bathers form a scene similar to the works of the German Expressionist group the Bruecke (Bridge). Larionov’s use of red-orange and green, opposite colours on the colour wheel, define the figures with a jarring, clashing force.”

Bathers at sunset, by Mikhail Larionov. (1909).

Bathers at sunset, by Mikhail Larionov. (1909).

Aristarkh Lentulov (1882-1943) returned to Moscow and painted this based on his impressions gained from his Parisian life among the French avant-garde. “The artist uses a radical style to depict a very traditional subject, giving the roses a monumental quality through his layering of petals and bright blocks of colour.”

Flowers, by Aristarkh Lentulov. (1913).

Flowers, by Aristarkh Lentulov. (1913).

Natalia Goncharova’s (1881-1962) series of harvest paintings appeared between 1908 and 1911. She imagines a scene of cypresses and pink mountains, and the women’s outfits are unlike those she usually depicted Russian paintings in. Apelsinia was a name she invented for her solo exhibition in 1913 in Moscow. “The work reveals her taste for the exotic and interest in the art of Paul Gauguin.”

Apelsinia, by Natalia Goncharova. (1909).

Apelsinia, by Natalia Goncharova. (1909).

Vladimir Burliuk (1886-1917) was influenced by Cezanne and Cubism. “He often fractured his paintings into interlocking irregular segments, as if translating the principles of stained glass onto canvas.”

Landscape, by Vladimir Burliuk. (1913).

Landscape, by Vladimir Burliuk. (1913).

Olga Rozanova’s (1886-1918) typical style of simple and energetic brushwork and bright colours is exemplified in this work, executed three years before her death. The playing cards theme was one she returned to throughout her life, “emphasising that her art was based on card games often played in streets, bars and funfairs.”

Queen of Diamonds, by Olga Rozanova. (1915).

Queen of Diamonds, by Olga Rozanova. (1915).

Innokenti Annenesky’s play Thamyris, The Cither Player (Famira Kifared) was staged at the Moscow Chamber Theatre to Alexandra Exter’s design, which incorporated traditional art of her native Ukraine and referenced ancient Greek friezes. “With their graphic clarity and arrangement of bold colours, Exter’s designs contributed to a rhythmic framework shaping the performance itself.”

Greeks (Costume design), by Alexandra Exter. (1916).

Greeks (Costume design), by Alexandra Exter. (1916).

This was a design created by Goncharova for the astronomer Magus in a ballet (Liturgie) that never saw the light of day. Here she displays her interest in Russian folk art, peasant embroidery and icon painting. She was at the same time beginning her fruitful collaboration with Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes.

Magus (Costume design), by Natalia Goncharova. (1915).

Magus (Costume design), by Natalia Goncharova. (1915).

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Vadim Odainik

Vadim Odainik (Odessa, 1925 – Kiev, 1984) was a Ukrainian artist of multifaceted talent. His brightly coloured landscapes and emotive portraits are fascinating pieces, and, despite having lived through the stultification of Soviet Realism, he appears not to have succumbed to its ill charms. “This symbiosis of the realities of socialist Ukraine of the mid-twentieth century and folk themes, executed in almost impressionistic style with a touch of Art Nouveau and folk motifs is captivating.”1 Indeed.

Karlovy Vary. (1964).

Karlovy Vary. (1964).

Filatov Street - it is snowing. (1976).

Filatov Street – it is snowing. (1976).

Winter in the Carpathians. (1972).

Winter in the Carpathians. (1972).

Carpathians. (1980).

Carpathians. (1980).

In the Carpathians. (1976).

In the Carpathians. (1976).

In the Carpathians (sketches). (1977).

In the Carpathians (sketches). (1977).

Hutsul woman from Yavorov: Vasilina. (1965).

Hutsul woman from Yavorov: Vasilina. (1965).

Hutsul still life: wedding presents. (1970).

Hutsul still life: wedding presents. (1970).

Hutsul musicians.

Hutsul musicians.

Zoya, the artist's wife. (1946).

Zoya, the artist’s wife. (1946).

Chersonessos (Crimea). (1962).

Chersonessos (Crimea). (1962).

Picnic. (1965).

Picnic. (1965).

Harvest. (1949).

Harvest. (1949).

Reference

1. Parashutov, ВАДИМ ОДАЙНИК. ХУДОЖНИК, ВЛЮБЛЕННЫЙ В КАРПАТЫ.

Japanese Dolls

The irrepressible Parashutov continues his journey amongst the worlds of art and manages to find the most eclectic collections of themes one can imagine. Here are some excerpts from a recent collection of art works featuring Japanese dolls.

Japanese doll, by Boris Kustodiev. (1908).

Japanese doll, by Boris Kustodiev. (1908).

Properly, this Polish artist’s works shouldn’t belong on this blog – Olga Boznańska (1865-1940) was born in Krakow, which was not in the Russian Empire – but what the heck: we haven’t had decent still lifes for a while.

Still life with vase, by Olga Boznańska. (1918).

Still life with vase, by Olga Boznańska. (1918).

Still life with Japanese doll, by Olga Boznańska. (1920).

Still life with Japanese doll, by Olga Boznańska. (1920).

Still life with white roses and Japanese doll, by Olga Boznańska. (1918).

Still life with white roses and Japanese doll, by Olga Boznańska. (1918).

Still life with white flowers and Japanese doll, by Olga Boznańska. (1918).

Still life with white flowers and Japanese doll, by Olga Boznańska. (1918).

Still life with Japanese doll, by Olga Boznańska. (1918).

Still life with Japanese doll, by Olga Boznańska. (1918).

And, finally, we have another Polish master, Gustaw Gwozdecki (1880-1935):

Still life with Japanese doll, by Gustaw Gwozdecki. (1910).

Still life with Japanese doll, by Gustaw Gwozdecki. (1910).

Nonconformists 2

Untitled, by Boris Sveshnikov. (1975).

Twilight, by Oleg Vasilyev. (1990).

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Don Quixote before the battle, by Nikolai Vechtomov. (1988).

Portrait of N. V. Kuznetsova, by Vladimir Weisberg. (1959).

Portrait of a woman, by Anatoly Zverev. (1966).

Still life, by Anatoly Zverev. (1981).

Bacchanalia, by Anatoly Slepyshev. (2001).

Still life, by Boris Birger. (1965).

[More nonconformist art via Diletant.ru.]

Nonconformists 1

Nonconformists, or unofficial Soviet art was an often paradoxical mirror onto the spiritual, psychological and social situation of the Soviet Union between 1960-80. Here’s a brief set of examples of the genre, taken from Diletant.ru, September 15.

Man with watch glass, by Alexander Kharitonov. (1962).

Vladimir Nabokov, by Otari Kandaurov. (1975).

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, by Otari Kandaurov. (1973).

Roses and thistles, by Valentina Kropivnitskaya. (1981).

Heart of Christ, by Ernst Neizvestny. (1973-75).

Don Quixote, by Vladimir Ovchinnikov. (1979).

Violin in a cemetery, by Oskar Rabin. (1969).

Adam and Eve, by Vasily Sitnikov. (1967).

Red egg, by Ülo Sooster. (1964).

Guardian angel, by Vladimir Titov. (1992).

Memorial service, by Boris Sveshnikov. (1966).

The Divine Weed 3

More ciggies, pipes, cigars, cigarillos, hubbly-bubblies and tobacco than you can escape passive smoking from.

Portrait of Konstantin Vyalov, by Alexander Deyneka. (1942).

Portrait of Konstantin Vyalov, by Alexander Deyneka. (1942).

We first have one Russian artist painting another. Here is Alexander Deyneka’s Portrait of Konstantin Vyalov (1942).

makovsky

Man smoking pipe, by Vladimir Makovsky.

Vladimir Makovsky (1846-1920) did the honours with his depiction of a Russian everyman smoking his pipe of contentedness.

Man smoking pipe, by Pyotr Sventakhovsky.

Man smoking pipe, by Pyotr Sventakhovsky.

I’m not entirely sure when this next Man with pipe (by Pyotr Sventakhovsky) was painted.

A Chinese man, by V. Vereshchagin. (1873).

A Chinese man, by V. Vereshchagin. (1873).

Our old friend Vasily Vereshchagin’s back with ‘A Chinese man‘, one in his Orientalist series. This one’s from 1873.

An old mountaineer, by Wacław Szymanowski. (1887).

An old mountaineer, by Wacław Szymanowski. (1887).

Just when I was beginning to think that there’s a sad lack of women in this series, I found this group portrait by the Polish artist Wacław Szymanowski (1859-1930). Of course, the women aren’t smoking, but hopefully before long we’ll find some that do.

The first cigarette, by Georgy Belashenko. (end-19th c.)

The first cigarette, by Georgy Belashenko. (end-19th c.)

How about this, though? Georgy Belashenko (1865-??) is yet another little known artist who painted this ‘The first cigarette‘ at the end of the 19th century.

Man in a boat, by Peter Williams. (1926).

Man in a boat, by Peter Williams. (1926).

Pyotr (Peter) Williams (1902-1947) was a Soviet artist of American descent. His father naturalised as a Russian citizen six years before he was born, and Peter stayed on in his adoptive country.

Portrait of K. Medova, by Igor Grabar. (1932).

Portrait of K. Medova, by Igor Grabar. (1932).

Here is a 1932 Portrait of K. Medova by Igor Grabar (1871-1960). Finally, another woman – actually wielding a ciggie!

Last cigarette, by Matiko Mameladze.

Last cigarette, by Matiko Mameladze.

Here’s a fairly recent work by the Georgian artist Matiko Mamaladze. More women!

Fashionable wife, by Pavel Fedotov. (1849).

Fashionable wife, by Pavel Fedotov. (1849).

This one, titled ‘Fashionable Wife (or the Lioness)‘ is by Pavel Fedotov. It’s from 1849, which makes it one of the oldest depictions of a woman smoking in Russian art.

In a bar, by Albert Edelfelt.

In a bar, by Albert Edelfelt.

And then the mighty Finnish artist Albert Edelfelt returns to this blog with this lovely portrait of a woman smoking ‘In a bar‘.

Lady friends, by Teodor Buchholz. (1901).

Lady friends, by Teodor Buchholz. (1901).

Next, we have a superb, intimate depiction of two friends by the Polish/Russian artist Teodor Buchholz (1857-1942).

Old man, by Enver Ishmametov.

Old man, by Enver Ishmametov.

Enver Ishmametov (1916-1985) next, with his Old Man.

Still life with pipe, by Alexander Kuprin. (1917).

Still life with pipe, by Alexander Kuprin. (1917).

To round this set off, a modernist still life by Alexander Kuprin (1880-1960) is a nice break from a continuity of portraiture.

Artur Fonvizin

I have a small claim to potential fame. Or, rather, a potential claim to fame. I created an article on Artur Fonvizin at the English Wikipedia. I’m rather pleased with myself.

Artur Fonvizin (Артур Владимирович Фонвизин) (1883-1973) was born in Riga (Latvia) in a family of German origin. His last name comes from von Wiesen, a name he used to sign his earliest works. When he joined the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, he fell in with the avant-garde crowd of Mikhail Larionov and Sergei Sudeikin, who had established the Union of Youth, a subversive artistic organisation. They put up an exhibition without the permission of the school authorities, and were promptly expelled.

Fonvizin is known as a watercolour artist, a Symbolist, a Formalist. During the Great Terror, he was vilified by the Soviet press as a leader of the Gang of Formalists (comprising the Three F’s: Falk, Favorsky and Fonvizin). Watercolour portraits of famous theatre actresses and circus artistes were his forte. His fame stems from the vividness of his application and the easy style of applying paint directly, with no preparatory drawings.

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Watercolours became Fonvizin’s chief medium of expression in the 1920s. When his contemporaries moved onto new arts and socialist realism, he began to withdraw into himself. Throughout the establishment and spread of Communist rule in Russia he lived quietly and peacefully, and remained known (despite his various prizes) only to specialists. The wider public had little idea of him: his nuances and subtleties, mastery of colour and expression escaped most viewers.

At first glance, it appeared as though Fonvizin lived his life utterly ignorant of the wars, five-year plans and state terror that surrounded his world. His work continued to be informed by his imagination; he created his own cozy world filled with multidimensional spaces for habitation, and ephemeral characters and objects. But a deeper look reveals that his proud loneliness was the complete opposite of the romantic posing of an artist or heroic ascetic.

Fonvizin was clearly not a strong personality, and it can be said his character was born from the opposite – weakness. The artist Anatoly Slepyshev who knew him well said that he was unable to work as many artists do – from time to time, day by day. Instead, he created works in a rush, in a kind of trance, slaving away to exhaustion, completely using up his spirit, fully immersing himself in his art, leaving no strength for his quotidian life. [1]

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Fonvizin is said to have suffered from autism. From early childhood, the external world interested him so little that he didn’t speak for years. Living an isolated life (his father was a forester and the family lived in forest quarters), he only emerged from his self-imposed imprisonment when he encountered the Ciniselli circus for the first time. He not only started to speak, he began to draw. Fairy princesses playing with fiery torches, galloping on mighty horses around the arena forever captured his imagination.

Still, the rest of the external world continued to disinterest him. After joining the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, he continued along his unobtrusive and meek existence, despite the company of the avant-garde and over-the-top Larionov and Goncharova, enduring their creative scandals. In the future, his interest would be watercolours and a very narrow range of subjects: old-style circuses, still lifes of flowers, portraits of women. He even found his companion in life in that world of the watercolour when he undertook to paint the portrait of the young artist Natalya Malkina.

And throughout his life, it was women who saved him from his troubles. When he was exiled during the war to Karaganda because of his German origins, it was Vera Mukhina who brought him back. Women of the high society of Soviet era simply bowed before him who honestly and realistically painted what he saw. His fairy princesses now were Babanova, Zerkalova, Glizer, Boguslavskaya, Levitina, Tikhomirnova, Plisetskaya …[2]

Portrait of a woman. (1939).

Natasha. (1939).

L. Yumasheva. (1945).

Portrait of a lady in pink.

Still life of flowers.

References

[1] Александр Котломанов, Артур Фонвизин: нежестокий романс, Журнал «НоМИ», № 2/2008.

[2] Andrei Kovalev, Watercolours as a form of autism, Russian Journal, 28 February 2003.

Art Roundup – June 2012

Unlike my trip to Mexico that resulted in the Angelina Beloff post, my recent holiday in Dartmouth didn’t elicit any fresh discoveries in Russian art. On the other hand, some idle browsing on the web revealed that the world of Russian art exhibitions and expositions shows no sign of slacking. Even as we speak, we find that there are displays galore, covering entirely different periods, themes and genres.

For example, in Riga, at the Russian House  there is an exhibition of works (a) by “Russian Artists of Latvia“, illustration the Russian artistic tradition in that country between 1960 and 2012. According to Vladimir Kzhizhanovsky [1], the entire spectrum of illustrative and graphic art can be found: landscapes, still lifes, portraits, abstract expressions, philosophical compositions and book illustrations. In particular, he singles out three works by Nikolai Vasilyev, which are in the style of expressionist pointillism, suffused with a multilayered dynamic. He also welcomes the rarely seen Maris Abilevs whose works are distinguished by a restrained line and palette. Two works by Alla Koroleva (‘Rendezvous’ and ‘Portrait of the Artist’) symbolise an optimism that generated considerable discussion at the opening of the exhibition. Meanwhile, Nikolai Krivoshein’s mastery of freedom and freshness attract the eye, as do the long unseen works of Valery Shuvalov, whose romanticism was illustrated in three modes: still life, a genre painting, and a portrait, each reflecting a different period in the artist’s life and style. To round these off, we have three powerful, spiritually filled reflections on the eternal themes of life in the canvases of Grigory Mikheev; also finding their rightful place at the exhibition are the children’s book illustrations by the artist Vladimir Novikov.

Meanwhile, there are three (count ’em – three!) exhibitions of the Russian avant-garde in Moscow [2]. The first (b) is the collaborative project by the Gallery ‘Kovcheg’ and the State Mayakovsky Museum (celebrating its 75th anniversary) in which appear works by Altman, Kandinksy, Malevich, Burliuk, Tyrsa, Rozanova, Larionov, and so on and on. It demonstrates the richness of the tradition of the leftist art which is hardly overshadowed by the gigantic figure of the ‘agitator Mayakovsky’. Next, we have the Gallery ‘Proun’, which presents an exhibition (c) on the inner, domestic world of the Russian avant-garde: there are works by the ‘Amazons’ Nadezhda Udaltsova and Olga Rozanova, who were not above sketching handbags; furniture designed by Alexander Rodchenko for a workers’ club; Lilya Brik and Lilya Yakhontova’s curtains for a bedroom which they sewed from pieces of pre-Revolutionary calico and velvet, as though by a peasant woman stitching a quilt… And finally, there is a biographical exhibition (d) at the Multimedia Art Museum on Vasily Yermilov, friend of Khlebnikov and illustrator of his books ‘Ladomir’, leader of the Kharkov avant-garde between the 1920s and the 1960s. Besides his illustrative works will appear his photomontages, contrereliefs, and models of sculptures.

Exhibition List

a. Russian Art of Latvia, Russian House, 97 Tallinas, Riga, Latvia. Until 24 June 2012, open daily except Mondays.

b. Public Review, Gallery ‘Kovcheg’, 12 Nemchinova street, Moscow. Until 1 July, 2012.

c. The House that PROUN built, Gallery ‘PROUN’, No 1/6, 4th Siromyatnichesky pereulok, Moscow. Until 29 July 2012.

d. Vasily Yermilov (1884-1968), Multimedia Art Museum, 16 Ostozhenka street, Moscow. Until 29 July 2012, open daily except Mondays.

References

[1] Russian Art at the Russian House, by Vladimir Kzhizhanovsky, Chas, 31 May 2012.

[2] Muscovites to see the national avant-garde, Novaya Politika, 1 June 2012.

Jews in the Russian Avant-Garde: Iosif Shkolnik

Iosif Solomonovich Shkolnik (Иосиф Соломонович Школьник) (1883-1926) was a painter, graphic artist, theatre designer and a promoter of art. He was born in a middle-class family in Balta, in the Kherson province of what is now Ukraine. He studied at the Odessa Art School and then at the High School of Art at the St Petersburg Academy of Art. In 1908, he became a member of the artistic-psychological group ‘Triangle’, which had been set up by the amateur artist N. I. Kulbin, a promoter of new directions in art. At the end of 1909, some of the more active promoters of art including Shkolnik left ‘Triangle’ and, in February 1910, formed a society of avant-garde artists which they called ‘Union of Youth’. Shkolnik became a secretary of this organisation, editor of a series of publications, the author of two collections of articles published in St Petersburg under the auspices of the organisation.

One of Shkolnik’s most famous works was the design of costumes and sets for the tragedy ‘Vladimir Mayakovsky’, which he worked on along with P.N. Filonov and O.V. Rozanova. This was promoted as the first theatre of futurists in the world, and appeared in December 1913 in St Petersburg. Four years later, Shkolnik was a major player in the establishment of the Union of Artists in Petrograd. In 1918, he became a member of the College of Fine Arts ‘Narkompros’ (People’s Commissariat of Education), where he led the theatre and set design sections. In 1920, the section was reorganised into the Institute of Decorative Arts, of which he became Director.

Between 1913 and 1919, he was also principal set and costume designer at the Troitsky and Maly Theatres in St Petersburg.

From 1919 onwards, Shkolnik was a teacher and supervisor of the classes on decorative arts at the Petrograd State Free Art Workshops.

Shkolnik’s art encompasses nearly every genre of the avant-garde: landscapes of his native Balta, still life, portraiture, poster art, theatre and costume design.

Shkolnik’s works, some of the finest of the St Petersburg avant-garde, are available to be seen at the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg and at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

(Translated from the appendix to Alexandra Shatskikh’s ‘Jews in the Russian Avant-Garde‘, and interspersed with remarks from N. A. Grishina’s biographical writeup in the Saratov State Museum of Art’s website.)

Gallery

Still life with yellow cloth. (1910s).

Village street. (1910s).

Landscape with a road.

Landscape with flowerbed. (1910s).

Courtyard (Landscape). (1910s).

Turkish Central Courtyard. (c. 1917).

Still life with vases. (1910s).

House with open window.