Russian Avant-Garde
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The Russian Avant-garde was born at the turn of the 20th century in pre-revolutionary Russia. The intellectual and cultural turmoil had then reached a peak and provided fertile soil for the formation of the movement. For many artists influenced by European art, the movement represented a way of liberating themselves from the social and aesthetic constraints of the past. It was these Avant-garde artists who, through their immense creativity, gave birth to abstract art, thereby elevating Russian culture to a modern level.Such painters as Kandinsky, Malevich, Goncharova, Larionov, and Tatlin, to name but a few, had a definitive impact on 20th-century art.



Publié par
Date de parution 04 juillet 2023
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781783103812
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Text: Evgueny Kovtun
Translation: Nick Cowling and Marie-Noëllle Dumaz

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© Parkstone Press International, New York, USA
© Confidential Concepts, Worldwide, USA
Art © Nathan Altman/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
© Hans Arp Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
© Marc Chagall Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
Art © Alexander Deineka/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Art © Robert Falk/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
© Natalia Goncharova Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
© Wassily Kandinsky Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
© Pyotr Konchalovsky Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
© Vladimir Kozlinsky Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
© Mikhail Larionov Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
Art © Vladimir Lebedev Estate/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
© Lasar Markowitsch Lissitzky Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
© Ivan Puni Estate, Artists Rights Society, New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
Art © Alexander Rodchenko Estate/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
© Martiros Saryan, Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
© Nikolai Suetin Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
© Vladimir Tatlin Estate, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, USA/ ADAGP, Paris
© Yuri Annenkov
© Sergei Bulakovski
© David Burliuk
© Maria Ender
© Vera Ermolaeva
© Evguenija Evenbach
© Alexandra Exter
© Pavel Filonov
© Elena Guro
© Valentin Kurdov
© Nikolai Lapshin
© Aristarkh Lentulov
© Ilya Mashkov
© Mikhail Matiushin
© Alexander Matveïev
© Kuzma Petrov-Vodkine
© Bossilka Radonitch
© Alexandra Schekatikhina-Potoskaya
© Alexander Shevchenko
© Lyubov Silitch
© Pyotr Sokolov
© Sergei Tschechonin
© Lev Yudin

All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or adapted without the permission of the copyright holder, throughout the world. Unless otherwise specified, copyright on the works reproduced lies with the respective photographers. Despite intensive research, it has not always been possible to establish copyright ownership. Where this is the case, we would appreciate notification.

ISBN: 978-1-78310-381-2
Evgueny Kovtun



I. Art in the First Years of the Revolution
‘Picasso, this is not the new art.’
The Spiritual Universe
The ROSTA Windows (Russian Telegraph Agency) of Petrograd
The Sevodnia Artel
The VKhUTEMAS [Higher Art and Technical Studios]
Wassily Kandinsky
The Struggle Against Gravity
The ‘Renaissance’ of Vitebsk
II. Schools and Movements
The Institute of Artistic Culture
The Additional Element
Elena Guro
The Signal for a Return to Nature
The End of the INKhUK
Malevich’s Second Peasant Cycle
The Rebellion Against God
The National ‘Tone’ of Colour
Filonov and the Masters of Analytical Art
The Kalevala
Artistic Groups in the 1920s
Sculpture, Porcelain and Textile Manufacture
The Avant-Garde Stopped in its Tracks
The Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (AKhRR), (renamed in 1928 The Association of Artists of the Revolution - AKhRR), 1922-1932, Moscow - Leningrad
Circle of Artists , 1925-1932, Leningrad
The Masters of Analytical Art (MAI), 1925-1932, Leningrad
The Makovets , 1921-1925, Moscow
The World of Art , 1898-1904, 1910-1924, St Petersburg - Moscow
Monolith , 1918-1922, Moscow
The New Society of Painters (NOZh), 1921-1914, Moscow
Oktiabr (including the group Molodoi Oktiabr), 1930-1932, Moscow — Leningrad
Painters of Moscow , 1924-1926, Moscow
The Four Arts Society of Artists , 1925-1932, Leningrad — Moscow
The Society of Moscow Artists (OMKh), 1927-1932, Moscow
The Union of Youth , 1910-1914, 1917-1919, St Petersburg — Petrograd
Nathan Altman (Vinnitsa, 1889 - Leningrad, 1970)
Yuri Annenkov (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski, 1889 - Paris, 1974)
Sergei Bulakovski (Odessa, 1880 - Kratovo, 1937)
Leon Bakst (Grodno, 1866 - Paris, 1924)
David Burliuk (Hamlet of Semirotovchtchina (now region of Kharkov), 1882 - Long Island, New York, 1967)
Marc Chagall (Vitebsk, 1887 - Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 1985)
Alexander Shevchenko (Kharkov, 1883 - Moscow, 1948)
Yuri Schukin (Voronej, 1904 - Moscow, 1935)
Maria Ender (St Petersburg, 1897 - Leningrad, 1942)
Vera Ermolaeva (Petrovsk, 1893 - district of Karaganda, victim of Stalinist repression, 1938)
Evguenija Evenbach (Krementchug, 1889 - Leningrad, 1981)
Alexandra Exter (Belostok, 1882 - Fontenay-aux-Roses, 1949)
Robert Rafailovich Falk (Moscow, 1886 - Moscow, 1958)
Pavel Filonov (Moscow, 1883 - Leningrad, 1941)
Natalia Goncharova (Negayevo, 1881 - Paris, 1962)
Elena Guro (St Petersburg, 1877 - Uusikirkko, 1913)
Lev Yudin (Vitebsk, 1903 - Leningrad, died on the front near Leningrad, 1941)
Pyotr Kontchalovsky (Slaviansk, 1876 - Moscow, 1956)
Wassily Kandinsky (Moscow, 1866 - Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1944)
Valentin Kurdov (Mikhailovskoie, 1905 - Leningrad, 1989)
Mikhail Larionov (Tiraspol, 1881 - Fontenay-aux-Roses, 1964)
Vladimir Lebedev (St Petersburg, 1891 - Leningrad, 1967)
Aristarkh Lentulov (Vorona, 1882 - Moscow, 1943)
Lazar Lissitzky, known as El-Lissitzky (Potchinok, 1890 - Moscow, 1941)
Ilya Mashkov (Hamlet of Mikhailovskaya, now district of Ourioupinsk, region of Volgograd, 1881 - Moscow, 1944)
Kazimir Malevich (Kiev, 1878 - Leningrad, 1935)
Mikhail Matiushin (Nijni-Novgorod, 1861 - Leningrad, 1934)
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (Khvalynsk, 1878 - Leningrad, 1939)
Alexander Rodchenko (St Petersburg, 1891 - Moscow, 1956)
Mikhail Sokolov (Yarloslavl, 1885 - Moscow, 1947)
Nikolai Suetin (Miatlevskaya, 1897 - Leningrad, 1954)
Vladimir Tatlin (Moscow, 1885 - Moscow, 1953)
Kazimir Malevich , Red Square , 1915.
Oil on canvas, 53 x 53 cm.
The State Russian Museum, St Petersburg.
I. Art in the First Years of the Revolution

‘Picasso, this is not the new art.’

At the beginning of the twentieth century Russian art found itself at the cutting edge of the world’s artistic process. The decades dedicated to the renewal of pictorial art in France were condensed into approximately fifteen years in Russia. The 1910s were marked by the growing influence of Cubism, which in turn modified the ‘profile’ of figurative art itself. But around 1913, the break up could already be felt, with new visual issues emerging and the scales tipping toward the Russian Avant-Garde. In March 1914, Pavel Filonov declared that ‘the centre of gravity of art’ has been transferred to Russia [1] . In 1912, Filonov criticised Picasso and Cubo-futurism, saying that it ‘leads to an impasse by its principles.’ [2] This statement came at a time when this movement was triumphing in Russian exhibitions. The most sensitive Russian thinkers and painters saw in Cubism and in the creations of Picasso not so much the beginning of a new art but the outcome of the ancient line of which Ingres was the origin.
Nicholas Berdiaev: ‘Picasso, this is not the new art. It is the conclusion of a bygone art.’ [3] Mikhail Matiushin: ‘Thus, Picasso, decomposing reality through the new method of Futurist fragmentation, follows the old photographic process of drawing from nature, only indicating the scheme of the movement of planes.’ [4] Mikhail Le Dantyu: ‘It is profoundly incorrect to consider Picasso as a beginning. He is perhaps more of a conclusion, one would be wrong to follow this path.’ [5] Nikolai Punin: ‘One cannot see in Picasso that it is the dawning of a new era.’ [6] The French Cubists have stopped at the threshold of non-figuration. Their theorists wrote in 1912: ‘Nevertheless, let’s confess that the reminiscence of natural forms cannot be absolutely disowned, at least not for the moment.’ [7] This Rubicon was then resolutely transgressed by Russian art in the work of Wassily Kandinsky and Mikhail Larionov, Pavel Filonov and Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin and Mikhail Matiushin. The consequences of this approach have been visible for a long time in Russian art, particularly in the 1920s, although non-figurative painting only interested artists for a short period of time. Malevich presented, for the first time, forty-nine Suprematist paintings at the exhibition that opened 15 December 1915 at the gallery of Nadeshda Dobytshina on the Field of Mars (Petrograd). ‘The keys to Suprematism’, he wrote, ‘lead me to a discovery that I am not yet aware of. My new painting does not belong exclusively to the earth. Earth is abandoned like a house eaten from within by woodworm. And there is actually in man, in his conscience, an aspiration for space, a desire to detach himself from Earth.’ [8]

The Spiritual Universe

For most painters, despite the discoveries of Galileo, Copernicus and Giordano Bruno, the Universe remained geocentric (from an emotional and practical point of view, that is to say, in their creativity). The imagination and structures in their paintings remain pledged to a terrestrial attraction. Perspective and horizon, notions of top and bottom were for them undeniably obvious. Suprematism would disrupt all of this. In some way, Malevich was looking at Earth from space or, in another way, his ‘spiritual universe’ suggested to him this cosmic vision. Numerous Russian philosophers, poets and painters at the beginning of the century returned to the Gnostic idea of primitive Christianity, which saw a typological identity between the spiritual world of man and the Universe. ‘The human skull,’ wrote Malevich, ‘offers to the movement representations of the same infinity, it equals the Universe, because all that man sees in the Universe is there.’ [9] Man had begun to

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