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Full text of "Amazons of the avant-garde : Alexandra Exter ... [et al.]"

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OFTHe 

avairr-GarDe 

aLexanDra exTer, 
naTaLia GoncHarova, 
liubov popova, OLGa rozanova, 
varvara STepanova, anD 
naDezHDa UDaLTSova 

eDneD by jOHn e. bowlt anD maTTHew dtutt 



GuggenheimMUSEUM 



amazons of THe avarrr-GarDe : aLexanDra exier, naiana GoncHarova, 
liubov popova, OLGa rozanova, varvara STepanova, anD naDezHDa UDaLTSova 

Curated by John E. Bowlt, Matthew Drutt, and Zelfira Tregulova 

Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, July 10— October 17, 1999 

Royal Academy of Arts. London. November 10. 1999-February 6, 2000 

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, February 29-May 28, 2000 

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. June 12-September 3. 2000 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, September 14,, 2000— January 10, 2001 



This exhibition is made possible by Deutsche Bank ' 



The operations and programs of the Peggy Guggenheim 
Collection are made possible by the support of the 
Peggy Guggenheim Collection Advisory Board, the 
Regione Veneto, Alitalia, and: 



INTHAPHES^ COLLEZIONE GUGGENHEIM 
Aermec Leo Burnett 

Arclinea Lubiamigu 

Automotive Products Italia Luciano Marcato 

Banca Antoniana Popolare Veneta _,..._. . . 

Paiiadio rinanziana 
Barbero 1891 

Rex Built-in 
Bisazza 

Booz-Allen & Hamilton Italia " 

Darmani Swatch 

Gretag Imaging Group WeUa 

Gruppo 3M Italia Zucchi-Bassetti Group 

management by Bondardo Communicazione 



© 2000 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York. 
All rights reserved.All works of art by Natalia Goncharova 
© aooo Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. 
All works of art by Varvara Stepanovaare reproduced with the 
permission of the Rodchenko-Stepanova Archive, Moscow. 
All works of art by Nadezhda Udaltsova © Estate of Nadezhda 
Udaltsova/ Licensed by VAGA New York, NY. 

Guggenheim Museum Publications, 1071 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 1012 

ISBN 0-89207-225-3 

Printed in Germany by GZD 

Design: DesiGn/wriTinG/researcH 

Cover: Liubov Popova, Composition with Figures, 1913 (plate 28) 



conTenTS 



i3 inTroDUdion 

Matthew Drutt 

20 women of Genius 

John E. Bowlt 

39 six (anD a Few more) russian women 
of rae avam-GarDe TOGeTHer 

Charlotte Douglas 

59 BeTween old anD New, russia's moDern women 

Laura Engelstein 

75 GenDer TrouBLe in rae amazonian KinGDoni: 

Turn-OF-THe-cenTurY represenTaTions of women in russia 

Olga Matich 

95 DressinGupanD DressmGDOwn: 
THe body of rue avam-GarDe 

Nicoletta Uisler 

109 creauve women, creauve Men, anD paraDiGms of 
creanviTY: why Have mere Been creaT women arTisTS? 

Ekaterina Dyogot 

i3i aLexanDra exTer 

Essay by Georgii Kovalenko 

155 naTana GoncHarova 

Essay by Jane A. Sharp 

185 LIUBOVPOPOVa 

Essays by Natalia Adaskina and Dmitrii Sarabianov 

ai3 OLGa rozanova 

Essay by Nina Gurianova 

241 varvara STepanova 

Essay by Alexander Lavrentiev 

271 naDezHDa UDarrsova 

Essay by Vasilii Rakitin 

298 DocumenTS 

348 LIST OF PLaTeS/BIBLIOGraPHY 



THe soLomon r. 
GUGGenHeim FOunDanon 



Honorary TrusTees 
in perpeTuiTY 

Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Justin K. Thannhauser 
Peggy Guggenheim 

Honorary cHairman 

Peter Lawson-Johnston 

CHairman 

Peter B. Lewis 

vice-presiDems 

Wendy L-J. McNeil 
John S. Wadsworth, Jr. 

vice-presiDem 
anD Treasurer 

Stephen C. Swid 

Diredor 

Thomas Krens 

secreTary 

Edward F. Rover 

Honorary TrusTee 

Claude Pompidou 

TrusTees ex officio 

Dakis Joannou 
Benjamin B. Rauch 



TrusTees 

Giovanni Agnelli 
JonlmanolAzua 
Peter M. Brant 
Mary Sharp Cronson 
Gail May Engelberg 
Daniel Filipacchi 
Martin D. Gruss 
Barbara Jonas 
David H. Koch 
Thomas Krens 
Barbara Lane 
Peter Lawson-Johnston 
Peter Lawson-Johnston II 
Samuel J. LeFrak 
Peter B. Lewis 
Wendy L-J. McNeil 
Edward H. Meyer 
Frederick W. Reid 
Richard A. Rifkind 
Denise Saul 
Terry Semel 
James B. Sherwood 
RajaW. Sidawi 
Seymour Slive 
Stephen C. Swid 
John S. Wadsworth, Jr. 
Cornel West 
John Wilmerding 
William T. Ylvisaker 



Diredor EmeriTus 

Thomas M. Messer 



peGGY GUGGenHeim coLLecTion 
aDvisory BoarD 



presiDem 

Peter Lawson-Johnston 

vice-presiDenT 

The Earl Castle Stewart 

Hononary CHairman 

Claude Pompidou 

Honorary co-CHairman 

H.R.H The Grand Duchess of 
Luxembourg 

Honorary memBer 

Olga Adamishina 

raeniBers 

Luigi Agrati 

Steven Ames 

Giuseppina Araldi Guinetti 

Maria Angeles Aristrain 

Rosa Ayer 

Marehese Annibale Berlingieri 

Alexander Bernstein 

Patti Cadby Birch 

Davide Blei 

Mary Bloch 

Wilfred Cass 

The Earl Castle Stewart 

Claudio Cavazza 

Fausto Cereti 

Sir Trevor Chinn 

Franca Coin 

Isabella del Frate Eich 

Rosemary Chisholm Feick 

Mary Gaggia 

David Gallagher 

Danielle Gardner 

Patricia Gerber 

Marino Golinelli 

Christian Habermann 



Jacques Hachuel M. 
Gilbert W. Harrison 
W. Lawrence Heisey 
William M. Hollis. Jr 
Guglielmo La Scala 
Samuel H. Lindenbaum 
June Lowell 
Cristian Mantero 
Achille Maramotti 
Valeria Monti 
Luigi Moscheri 
Raymond D. Nasher 
Christina Newburgh 
Giovanni Pandini 
Annelise Ratti 
Benjamin B. Rauch 
Richard A. Rifkind 
Dodie Rosekrans 
Nanette Ross 
Miles Rubin 
Aldo Sacchi 
Sir Timothy Sainsbury 
Denise Saul 
Evelina Schapira 
Hannelore Schulhof 
James B. Sherwood 
Riki Taylor 

Roberto Tronchetti Provera 
Melissa Ulfane 
Leopoldo Villareal F. 
Nancy Pierce Watts 
Ruth Westen Pavese 

emeriTus memBers 

Enrico Chiari 
William Feick, Jr. 
Evelyn Lambert 
Jacques E. Lennon 
Umberto Nordio 
Anna Scotti 
Kristen Venable 



peGGY GUGGenHeim 
coLLecnon FamiLY 
commiTTee 

David Helion 

Fabrice Helion "f 

Nicolas Helion 

Laurence and Sandro Rumney 

Clovis Vail 

Julia Vail and Bruce Mouland 

KaroleP.B. Vail 

Mark Vail 




OLGa rozanova 

Non-Objective Composition (Flight of an Airplane), 1916 
Oil on canvas, 118 x 101 cm 
Art Museum, Samara 



preFace 



THomas Krens 



The Guggenheim Museum has a distinguished history in collecting and presenting 
the art of the Russian avant-garde. In 1929, Solomon R. Guggenheim met Vasily 
Kandinsky in his Bauhaus studio, beginning a relationship that would result in this 
pioneering Russian abstract painter becoming closely associated with the museum's 
permanent collection. Masterpieces by Russians Marc Chagall, Natalia Goncharova. 
Mikhail Larionov, El Lissitzky, and Kazimir Malevich were acquired by the museum 
early on, and remain some of our most treasured works. 

Over the years we have mounted many exhibitions devoted to Russian artists, 
with no fewer than nineteen since 1945 devoted to Kandinsky alone. Other Russian 
masters honored by the Guggenheim include Malevich (1973), Chagall (1975 and 
1993), and Naum Gabo (1986). In 1981, the Guggenheim organized Art oftheAvant- 
Garde in Russia: Selections from the George Costakis Collection-, a sweeping survey, it 
resulted in two publications that remain central to the scholarship on the subject. In 
1992, we presented The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915—1932. 
which remains the most comprehensive investigation of the subject to date. 

It is within this context that we are pleased to organize another historic exhibi- 
tion of Russian art. Amazons of the Avant- Garde is a model of scholarship and cura- 
torial acumen. It brings together distinguished masterpieces of the period, 
including many not shown in the West since they were created. This is the first trav- 
eling exhibition organized for the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin. Following Berlin 
and the Royal Academy, the presentation of the exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim 
Collection offers an ideal setting for understanding the achievements of these 
artists against a background of works by other Russians as well as by the Parisian 
Cubists in Peggy Guggenheim's collection, and by the Italian Futurists, magnifi- 
cently represented in the Gianni Mattioli Collection. 

Curators John E. Bowlt, Matthew Drutt, and Zelfira Tregulova deftly organized 
this project, and I am grateful to them for their cooperation and hard work. We are 
indebted to the lenders to this exhibition, not only because they allowed us to bor- 
row their treasured works, but because they have made important contributions to 
the scholarship of this publication. Finally, I am deeply grateful to Dr. Rolf-E. 
Breuer, Spokesman of the Board of Managing Directors of Deutsche Bank, for his 
ongoing support of the collaboration between our institutions. I am thankful for 
Deutsche Bank's enthusiasm for the project as well as its sponsorship of the tour. 



LenDers to THe exHiBiTion 



Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 

Art Museum. Samara 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 

Krasnodar District Kovalenko Art Museum 

Moderna Museet, Stockholm 

Elena Murina and Dmitrii Sarabianov, Moscow 

MuseoThyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid 

Museum Ludwig, Cologne 

Museum of History and Architecture, Pereiaslavl-Zalesskii 

Museum of Private Collections, 

Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Moscow 
Museum of Visual Arts, Ekaterinburg 
National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kiev 
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa 
National Museum and Gallery, Cardiff 
Private Collection 

Private Collection, Courtesy Gallery Gmurzynska, Cologne 
Regional Art Museum, Ulianovsk 
Regional Picture Gallery, Vologda 
Rostov Kremlin State Museum Preserve 
Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 
Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart 
State Art Museum of Bashkkortostan. Ufa 
State Museum of History, Architecture, and Art, Smolensk 
State Museum of the Visual Arts of Tatarstan, Kazan 
State Museum of Visual Arts, Nizhnii Tagil 
State Picture Gallery, Perm 
State Radischev Art Museum, Saratov 
State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 
State Unified Art Museum, Kostroma 
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection 
Vasnetsov Regional Art Museum, Kirov 
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven 



sponsor's STaTemeriT 



Dr. roLF-e. Breuer 



Today, at the opening of a new century, the innovative achievements of the Russian 
avant-garde are comprehensively documented. Yet, one aspect has so far received 
scant attention — namely the strong participation of female artists in this move- 
ment. Never before had women in art played such an active and shaping role in the 
development of an art project. We are therefore pleased to be able to present in 
Amazons of the Avant- Garde more than seventy paintings and works on paper by six 
Russian female artists. 

Deutsche Bank's relationship with Russia has a long tradition. And it is cer- 
tainly not by chance that from the time of our business incorporation we embarked 
on a series of important cultural exchanges, beginning in 1977, with the first pre- 
sentation in the West (in Diisseldorf) of the Costakis Collection of Russian avant- 
garde art. Following our sponsorship of several exhibitions in the 1980s, the 
Cultural Foundation of Deutsche Bank continued its involvement in this field by 
supporting the landmark 1995-96 exhibition Berlin- Moscow/Moscow -Berlin. In 
1997, we presented a large exhibition in Moscow of works by Georg Baselitz; it was 
the first time works from our own collection were shown in Russia. 

Five of the artists in the present exhibition (all but Goncharova) were repre- 
sented in the First Russian Art Exhibition of 1932 at the Galerie van Diemen, Unter 
den Linden 21, Berlin, just a few steps from the present-day site of the Deutsche 
Guggenheim Berlin (where this exhibition was first shown in July, 1999)- The 1922 
exhibition was the first overview in the West of the art of the Russian avant-garde; 
the Russian pavilion of the XIV Venice Biennale in 1924 was the last (and, because 
many of the more advanced paintings were shipped to Venice but not exhibited, 
somewhat half-hearted) international exhibition of this art until the 1960s. 

It is extraordinarily appropriate therefore that Amazons of the Avant- Garde 
should be presented both in Berlin and Venice, and we are proud that Deutsche 
Bank has made this possible. We wish the exhibition as much success and critical 
attention in Venice (as well as Bilbao and New York, where it will travel subse- 
quently), as it enjoyed in Berlin and London— for art provides not only pleasure, 
but also intellectual stimulation. 



acKnowLeDGmeriTs 



We have been very fortunate to work with a large network of associates, all of whom 
have contributed invaluably to this project. Foremost, we thank Nicolas V. Iljine, 
European Representative of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, for his stead- 
fast support and advice throughout the exhibition. It was he who suggested the idea 
for this project, and his enthusiasm and passion combined with his experience and 
diplomatic skills made him a critical member of our team. 

"We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to Pavel Khoroshilov, Deputy 
Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, who also stood at the beginning of the 
curatorial process, proposing its special focus, taking a personal interest and assist- 
ing us far beyond his call of duty. 

We are most grateful to our Russian colleagues, whose help with this exhibition 
was indispensable. At the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation Department 
of Museums: Vera Lebedeva, Director, and Anna Kolupaeva, Deputy Director. At the 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow: Valentin Rodionov, Director-, Lidia Iovleva, Deputy 
Director of Academic Research; Natalia Avtonomova, Head of the Department of 
Twentieth-Century Art; Tatiana Gubanova of the International Department; Alia 
Lukanova, Liudmila Bobrovskaia and Tatiana Mikhienko, Curators of the Depart- 
ment of Twentieth-Century Art; Natalia Kobliakova and Elena Churakova of the 
Department of Restoration. At the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg: Vladimir 
Gusev, Director; Evgenia Petrova, Deputy Director of Academic Research. At the 
State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow: IrinaAntonova, Director. At the 
"Rosizo" State Museum Exhibition Center, representing 16 Russian regional muse- 
ums: Oleg Shandybin, Director; Victoria Zubravskaia. Head of the Exhibition 
Department. Furthermore, we thank Faina Balakhovskaia for her archival research, 
coordination of loans from Russian regional museums and assistance with curatorial 
issues: Ekaterina Drevina for granting access to the Nadezhda Udaltsova archive; and 
Alexander Lavrentiev and Varvara Rodchenko for their generous help with artworks 
and documents from the Rodchenko -Stepanova Archive. We also extend our grati- 
tude to AlikiKostaki in Athens, Norman W. Neubauer, Philippa Delancey, and the 
Hellenic Republic Ministry of Culture for their assistance with loans from Art Co. 
Ltd. (the George Costakis Collection). 

For their scholarly contributions, we are deeply grateful to the catalogue's 
authors: Natalia Adaskina, Charlotte Douglas, Ekaterina Dyogot, Laura 
Engelstein, Nina Gurianova, Georgii Kovalenko, Alexander Lavrentiev, Olga 



acKiiowLeDcmenTS 



Matich, Nicoletta Misler, Vasilii Rakitin, Dmitrii Sarabianov, and Jane A. Sharp. 

Special mention goes to our colleagues at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. In 
particular, we thank Norman Rosenthal, Secretary of Exhibitions, and Simonetta 
Fraquelli, Curator, for their support. Philip Rylands, Deputy Director of the Peggy 
Guggenheim Collection in Venice, was central to the early stages of organizing this 
project. We also thank Dr. Ariane Grigoteit and Friedhelm Hutte. curators of the 
Deutsche Bank Collection; Svenja Simon, Gallery Manager, and Sara Bernshausen, 
Gallery Assistant, both of the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin. 

The expertise of different staff members at the Solomon R. Guggenheim 
Museum was indispensahle. The leadership of Thomas Krens, Director, and Lisa 
Dennison, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, must be recognized for nurturing the 
exhibition. We are most grateful to Vanessa Rocco, Project Curatorial Assistant, who 
managed all aspects of this endeavor. Luz Gyalui, curatorial intern, provided valuable 
assistance. Marion Kahan, Exhibition Program Manager, oversaw the transport of 
loans. Thanks must be given to our liaisons with Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, Paul 
Pincus, Director of International Planning and Operations, and Anne Leith, 
Planning and Operations Manager. Also helpful were: Max Hollein, Executive 
Assistant to the Director; Scott Gutterman, Director of Public Affairs; Ben Hartley, 
Director of Corporate Communication and Sponsorship; Jane DeBevoise, Deputy 
Director for Program Administration; Karen Meyerhoff, Director of Exhibition and 
Collection Management and Design; Sean Mooney, Exhibition Design Manager and 
Alexis Katz, Architectural CAD Coordinator; Jessica Ludwig, Chief Graphic 
Designer/Exhibition Design Coordinator-, and Gail Scovell. General Counsel, Julie L. 
Lowitz, Associate General Counsel, and Maria Pallante. Assistant General Counsel. 

For the catalogue design, we thank J. Abbott Miller and Santiago Piedrafita of 
Design/Writing/Research. Anthony Calnek, Director of Publications, Elizaheth Levy, 
Managing Editor/Manager of Foreign Editions, Esther Yun, Assistant Production 
Manager, Meghan Dailey, Assistant Editor, and Liza Donatelli, Editorial and 
Administrative Assistant, were integral to every step of producing this publication. 
We are grateful to David Frankel. Stephen Robert Frankel, Jennifer Knox-White, and 
Tim Mennel. We would also like to extend our deep thanks to Elizabeth Franzen, 
Manager of Editorial Services, for her skillful management and organization. 

We further thank: Barbara Lyons of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Simon Taylor at Art 
Resource; J. Frank Goodwin for his translations from the Russian; Aneta Zebala for 
photography in Los Angeles; and Mariia Zubova. We appreciate the input of Jared 
Ash, Dimitri P. Dourdine-Mak. Krystyna Gmurzynska, Alexandra Ilf. Gerard Lob, 
Nikita D. Lobanov- Rostovsky, Nina Lobanov-Rostovsky, Ira Menshova. and Alik 
Rabinovich. Finally, and most importantly, we extend our deepest thanks to all of the 
lenders to the exhibition. 

—John E. Bowlt, Matthew Drutt. Zelfira Tregulova 




Tama na BucTaBK* ^yrypacTOBB «TpanBaft B.». 

H*HT0 JPAMBA* B\ 

(Kk arwpwTiw tyTypMcnmecMOft MCrasiw). 



(Tie. a wtyp"). 



figure i. anonymous 

Types at the " Tramway V" Exhibition of Futurists, caricature published in the 
newspaper Golos Rusi (Petrograd). 1915. The drawing shows (left to right) Ksenia 
Boguslavskaia. Alexandra Exter, Vladimir Tatlin. Ivan Puni, and Olga Rozanova at 
the Tramway K exhibition. Courtesy of Puni-Archiv, Zurich. 



imroDucTion 



maTTHew dtutt 



Amazons of the Avant- Garde is modest in scale yet ambitious in scope. It marks a 
departure from previous endeavors that have taken a broad view of the Russian 
avant-garde, mapping the breadth of its interdisciplinary activities through an 
encyclopedic array of artists. 1 The exhibition celebrates the evolution of modern 
Russian painting from the 1900s through the early 1930s exemplified by six artists 
who were at the center of that history: Alexandra Exter, Natalia Goncharova, Liubov 
Popova, Olga Rozanova, Varvara Stepanova, and Nadezhda Udaltsova. Despite its 
tight focus, Amazons of the Avant- Garde has been a challenging undertaking. Some 
five years of planning and research have brought together more than seventy care- 
fully selected paintings and drawings from international public and private collec- 
tions. Many of the works have been lent by Russian institutions, some appearing 
in the West for the first time since the early twentieth century. 

The narrower path charted by this exhibition is not taken at the expense of 
the complexity of the art or its milieu. Rather, it allows that complexity to fall under 
close examination. The present publication is more than a catalogue-, it is a collec- 
tion of interpretive essays and primary documents that delves deeply into its sub- 
ject and offers a range of viewpoints. New research has concentrated directly on 
the paintings and drawings. Because a number of them were originally exhibited 
without dates and under generic names or simply as "untitled," questions of 
provenance have attended many of the works throughout their history. However, 
after extensive investigation in Russian archives, and with the assistance of 

i3 



niTroDUCTion 



colleagues at the different lending institutions, more precise titles and dates have 
been assigned to several key works. Some of these adjustments represent a subtle 
refinement of previous scholarship, while others may necessitate a reexamination 
of a given artist's stylistic evolution. In cases where questions remain, we have 
retained the currently accepted information and follow it with a newer suggestion 
in brackets. This invaluable documentation, along with a careful scrutiny of prove- 
nance and exhibition history for each work, has been assembled with the assis- 
tance of scholars Faina Balakhovskaia. Liudmila Bobrovskaia, Nina Gurianova. 
Alexander Lavrentiev, Alia Lukanova, and Tatiana Mikhienko. 

The first section of the book consists of six essays on a range of subjects. In 
some cases, these contributions depart from the subject at hand, offering histori- 
cal background and insight into topics inspired by this enterprise that make the 
book an extension of the exhibition rather than merely its companion. How and 
why such a great number of women artists became so prominent during a relatively 
confined period are questions that recur throughout this volume . Through an 
investigation of art criticism, artistic practice, and the art market in early twenti- 
eth-century Russia, John E. Bowlt considers the conceptual and historical context 
in which this question is posed. His essay, "Women of Genius," reflects on the 
ambivalence and enthusiasm alternately directed toward female artists in Russia 
from the turn of the century through the early 1930s. Bowlt also demonstrates that, 
by the 1910s, the women were quite firmly a part of the Russian art world, and that 
without them, future avant-garde trajectories would have been impossible. Women 
artists regularly participated in key exhibitions and wrote for major publications, 
and in many cases their contributions formed the foundations for pioneering con- 
ceptual developments of the period. 

In her essay, Charlotte Douglas looks closely at the personal and professional 
lives of Russian women artists, describing the dynamic of camaraderie and inde- 
pendence that operated between them, their position in the European avant- 
garde, and their involvement within Russian artistic circles. Douglas reminds the 
reader that painting was but one facet of their creative output (which also included 
stage and textile design among other disciplines) and touches upon the complex 
amalgam of indigenous traditions and foreign influences that informed the art and 
writings of the six artists. 

The roots of their confidence and prominence may be better understood when 
considered against the intricate historical fabric of Russia. In her essay "Between 
Old and New: Russia's Modern Women," Laura Engelstein provides a comprehen- 
sive foundation for understanding the social, historical, and political conditions 
that gave rise to the "new woman" in Russia. The country's labyrinthine culture 
and politics are laid bare as the author charts the ebb and flow of female political 
economy from the eighteenth through the early twentieth century. Engelstein 



H 



maTTHew dtutt 



moves deftly between high and low culture, sociology and cultural history, and eco - 
nomics and politics, considering elements as varied as the palace intrigues of the 
tsarist period to the fashion trends that made women appear more masculine long 
before the Russian Revolution proclaimed the sexes equal. 

Olga Matich's essay may be viewed as building upon Engelstein's historical 
framework. The problematic relationship between power and sexuality — one 
implicit in the title of this exhibition — is traced through a close reading of Russia's 
fin-de-siecle cultural landscape and the question of gender identity. The essay 
investigates the ways in which women were depicted in the visual, literary, and 
performing arts, and in particular, how they represented themselves. While 
primarily concerned with examples from Symbolist art, literature, and theater, 
Matich's ideas provide another lens through which the viewer might look at the 
works in this exhibition. The notion of self-presentation is taken up by Nicoletta 
Misler in "Dressing Up and Dressing Down: The Rodyof the Avant- Garde, "which 
examines the impact Exter, Goncharova, Popova. Rozanova, Stepanova, and 
Udaltsova had on fashion and design. "Dressing Up and Dressing Down" is another 
reminder that painting was part of a larger ideological and artistic structure, and 
that significant avant-garde practices of the period went beyond painting. 

Finally, Ekaterina Dyogot's analysis of male and female creativity, and the 
dynamics of gender, recognition, and exclusion in Modernism, is a sensitive yet 
pointed discussion of the close personal and professional partnerships that the 
artists in this exhibition shared with their male contemporaries. Dyogot demon- 
strates how those relationships presented both means for empowerment and 
obstacles to the artists' maintaining their independence. 

This volume also includes biographical essays profiling each artist, written by 
leading scholars — Georgii Kovalenko (Exter), Jane A. Sharp (Goncharova), Natalia 
Adaskina and Dmitrii Sarabianov (Popova), Nina Gurianova (Rozanova), Alexander 
Lavrentiev (Stepanova), and Vasilii Rakitin (Udaltsova). These contributions offer 
critical insight into, and new information about, specific works and shed further 
light on the artists' respective biographies. Some adjustments to the chronologies 
of the artists' activities have also been made: thus, the information here may in 
some cases differ from that in previous publications. Such changes have been made 
only after careful consideration of recently discovered information. The reproduc- 
tions that follow each of these essays are arranged chronologically: however, this is 
not meant to suggest that, within a given year, one painting definitely preceded or 
followed another; and, further, certain works have been arranged according to 
stylistic considerations. 

The final part of the book contains a selection of original writings by the artists 
themselves. These documents not only provide insight into the critical thinking 
and aesthetic concerns of each artist, but also reveal their personal struggles, high- 



'5 



niTroDUCTion 



lighting both their affinities and their fierce competitiveness. While several of 
these primary sources have previously appeared elsewhere, most have been newly 
translated from Russian and published here for the first time. Every attempt has 
been made to preserve the original spirit of these tracts, diary entries, and letters. 
The polemical writing of the avant-garde demonstrates its support of radical cul- 
tural production and provides commentary on the relationship between these 
artists' work and the art of the past. These selections are as fascinating, revelatory, 
and central to the history of the avant-garde as the works of art themselves. 

i. The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde. 7975 — 1933, organized by the Solomon R. 
Guggenheim Museum in 1992, has become the exemplar of this approach. 



eDiTonaL noTe 



eDnoriaL noie 

The transliteration of the Russian used in this book modifies the Library of 
Congress system, so that the Russian soft and hard signs have either been omitted 
or indicated with an "i" (e.g., Grigoriev). This system is also used throughout the 
footnotes and where bibliographical references involve Russian- language sources. 
Since this book is meant for the lay reader as much as for students and scholars, we 
have avoided the academic transliteration systems that can render a familiar name 
unrecognizable (e.g., whereby "Chekhov" becomes "Cexov"). Many Russian artists 
and writers spent time in Europe or the United States and often their names 
received various, even contradictory, transliterations from the original Russian 
into the language of their adopted home. For the sake of uniformity, names have 
been transliterated in accordance with the system described above, except when a 
variant has been long established and widely recognized, such as Alexandre Benois 
instead of Alexandr Benua, and El Lissitzky, rather than Lazar Lisitsky. 

Dates referring to events in Russia before January 1918 are in the Old Style. If a 
given date falls during the nineteenth century, it is twelve days behind the Western 
calendar; if it falls between 1900 and 1918, it is thirteen days behind. 

Finally, the city of St. Petersburg was renamed Petrograd in 1914; Leningrad in 
1934; and then St. Petersburg again in 1993. However, both Petrograd and 
Petersburg continued to be used freely in common parlance and publications until 
1924. As a general rule, Petrograd has been retained here to denote the official 
name of St. Petersburg from 1914—24. —J.E.B. 



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figure 2. Varvara Stepanova and Liubov Popova. photographed by 
Alexander Rodchenko, Moscow. 1924. 



women of Genius 1 



JOHIl e. BOWLT 



The triumph of the Russian avant-garde is unthinkable without the participation 
of the six women in this exhibition, each of whom contributed directly to its devel- 
opment. Benedikt Livshits, the Cubo-Futurist poet and friend of Alexandra Exter 
and Olga Rozanova. was the first to describe them as "real Amazons, Scythian 
riders." 3 The bold diapason of aesthetic ideas represented by the original and daz- 
zling works in this exhibition — from Natalia Goncharova's evocation of traditional 
Russian culture in Mowers, 1907—08 (plate 14) to Liubov Popova's hard -edge 
abstraction in Construction, 1930 (plate 38), from Exter's Simultanism in City. 1913 
(plate 3) to Varvara Stepanova's visual poetry of 1918 (plates 55—64), and from 
Rozanova's non-objectivity compositions (see e.g. plates 49—53) to Nadezhda 
Udaltsova's Suprematist ornaments (e.g. plates 86—89) — documents the stylistic 
history of the Russian avant-garde. For all the accomplishments of the "other 
avant-garde" in Europe and the United States, an analogous exhibition that 
defines entire movements in such a decisive and comprehensive manner through 
the work of women artists could hardly be undertaken for French Cubism. Italian 
Futurism, or German Expressionism. Obviously, this is not to deny the merits of 
Hannah Hoch, Marie Laurencin, Benedetta Marinetti, Gabriele Miinter, Sophie 
Tauber-Arp, or their numerous colleagues, but their total contribution still pales 
before the pictorial splendor of the work of these six Russian avangardistki. 
Perhaps Vladimir Bekhteev, a friend of Goncharova, and Georgii Yakulov. a friend 
of Sonia Delaunay. Exter. and Rozanova, had this strength and energy in mind 



women of Genius 



when, at the height of the avant-garde, each painted his own version of the allegor- 
ical Battle of the Amazons? 

Certainly, the idea of grouping together a number of important Russian 
women artists and assembling their works into an exhibition is not new: in i883 
Andrei Somov, Curator of Paintings at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and father 
of the fin-de-siecle artist Konstantin Somov, published a long article about the 
"phenomenon" of nineteenth- century Russian women painters and engravers*; 
in his 1903 history of Russian art, Alexei Novitsky included a special section on 
Russian women artistsS; in 1910 the St. Petersburg journal /Ipoilon. (Apollo) organ- 
ized an exhibition of Russian women artists in its editorial offices: and in the late 
1910s — remarkably in the wake of World War I — the Russian press gave increasing 
space to the role of women artists and writers, both conservative and radical. More 
recently there have been many exhibitions and publications concerned with 
Russian women artists, all of which have posed the complicated question as to why 
these women were able to live, work, and play in such an unrestricted manner in 
such an apparently restricted society as Imperial Russia. In 1976—77 Linda Nochlin 
and Ann Sutherland Harris organized the impressive Women Artists /^o— 7950 — 
shown at the Rrooklyn Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. and the 
University of Texas at Austin — which placed Exter, Goncharova, Popova, and 
Udaltsova in a rich panorama that started with Levina Teerline and ended with 
Dorothea Tanning. The first exhibition to concentrate on the women of the 
Russian avant-garde, however, was Kiinstlerinnen der russischenAvantgarde Women - 
Artists of the Russian Avant- Garde iqio—3o, organized by the Galerie Gmurzynska. 
Cologne, in 1979-80; this exhibition and its catalogue remain a cornerstone in 
current research on the history of the Russian avant-garde. Exhibitions that fol- 
lowed—such as L'altra meta dell'avanguardia 1910— 194,0, organized by Lea Vergine 
and shown at the Comune di Milano, Milan, in 1980, and L 'Avant- Garde au 
Feminin-. Moscou, Saint-Petersbourg, Paris (1907—1930), organized by Valentine and 
Jean-Claude Marcade and shown at Artcurial, Centre d'Art Plastique 
Contemporain, Paris, in 1983 — added to the basic sources presented in the 
Galerie Gmurzynska exhibition, reinforcing the already powerful position of 
women in histories of Russian art. Subsequent publications by Miuda Yablonskaya 
(Women Artists of Russia's New Age-. 7900—7935 [1990]) and BeatWismer (KaroDame. 
Konstruktive, konkrete und radikale Kunst von Frauen von 1914 bis heute [1995]) have 
expanded our knowledge of the subject still further. 

Amazons of the Avant -Garde concentrates on studio paintings at the expense of 
the applied arts in which the six women also excelled, including designs for books, 
textiles, fashion, ceramics, and the stage. Inevitably, the focus reconfigures the 
total silhouette of their artistic careers, communicating some of the truth but not 
the whole truth, and inviting us to assume that studio painting was their most 



J0H11. e. BOWLT 



important activity (though ultimately, it probably was). Space limitations, avail- 
ability of major works, and the exhibition's complex itinerary (four venues 
in as many countries) also dictates its scope and prompts an emphasis on the dra- 
matic achievements of Cubo - Futurism and Suprematism rather than a loose sur- 
vey of the life and work of each respective artist; for the same reasons, early and 
late works are missing from the exhibition, lacunae that are to be regretted, given 
the strong commitment of these women to Impressionism, Symbolism, and the 
return to order— in the form of European "Neo-Classicism" or Soviet Socialist 
Realism — in the 1920s through the 1940s. Ultimately, the selection of works was 
driven by the effect of the whole rather than that of the parts, and the idea of creat- 
ing an applied-arts section or of including, say, six early and six late paintings 
paled before the vision of an iconostasis of iconoclastic paintings. 

Dedicated to their art, these six women rarely formulated or championed par- 
ticular social and political ideologies, although Goncharova, certainly, had strong 
opinions about traditional perceptions of women and the need for them to raise 
their voices, as she demonstrated in her "Open Letter" (see Documents section). 
While the force of their pictorial experimentation, their "career-mindedness," 
and their often unorthodox behavior might be interpreted as a protest against the 
status quo, we should be wary of imposing later political constructs upon them. 
They supported the idea of cultural renewal and rejected what they considered to 
be outmoded aesthetic canons, but apart from Goncharova's "Open Letter" their 
private statements contain few concrete references to the role of women vis-a-vis 
that of men in Russian society. In fact, their relationships with their male col- 
leagues—Alexander Drevin, Mikhail Larionov, Kazimir Malevich, Alexander 
Rodchenko, Vladimir Tatlin. and Alexander Vesnin among them — seem to have 
been remarkably harmonious, collaborative, and fruitful, except perhaps in the 
case of Rozanova and poet Alexei Kruchenykh, whose romance was rocked by 
emotional and sentimental tempests. 

At the same time, the ostensible ethical and social freedoms of these women 
cannot be regarded as typical of the conditions in Russia just before the October 
Revolution. They lived and worked within a small circle of relatives and friends 
and. however genuine their passion for national Russian culture (such as 
Goncharova's fascination with rural ritual and folklore) , they had little to do 
with the "real" Russia — the peasants, urban workers, and revolutionaries — pre- 
ferring to mix with the gilded youth of Moscow's bohemia or, paradoxically, with 
the rich and powerful of St. Petersburg. 6 It is also wrong to conclude that, if these 
Amazons enjoyed the respect of their advocates, friends, and lovers, all Russian 
men were just as unbiased and as unpatronizing in their assumptions about 
women. The traditional attribution of the qualities of ingenuousness, infantility, 
and innocence to women certainly continued through the 1910s: women were 

23 



women of Genius 



still expected to avert their gaze from "male shame" in statues that were considered 
too explicit, 7 and reviewers remarked that young ladies found the new art to be 
amusing (whereas, presumably, sensible citizens did not). 8 When one male 
reporter declared of Goncharova's 1913 retrospective that the "most disgusting 
thing is that the artist is a woman," 9 he was expressing not only sexist shock at 
the fact that these overpowering Neo-Primitivist and Cubo- Futurist paintings 
were made by a woman, but also a profound despair at the need to suspend disbe- 
lief and invent a new critical language that would accommodate this implied dis- 
placement of criteria. 

The Romantic attitude toward women and women artists as carriers of grace, 
beauty, and gentility — supported by critics such as Fedor Bulgakov 10 — quickly 
gave way to the newer metaphor of the creative virago and the militant Amazon. 
This inevitably evoked direct political associations with the so-called "Moscow 
Amazons" of the 1870s — women of the All- Russian Social Revolutionary 
Organization who had believed in violence, even assassination, as a real political 
instrument. 11 At the beginning of World War I, some Russians were asking why this 
Amazonian detachment could not be trained for military purposes: "Why can a 
woman be a doctor, an engineer, or an aviator, but not a soldier? " asked Vasilii 
Kostylev in an article entitled "Our 'Amazons'" in the Moscow Zhurnal dlia khoziaek 
(Journal for Housewives). 13 Other authors were perturbed by what they saw as the 
consequent "incurable disease of dichotomy, a disease that has appeared together 
with the so-called woman question, a dichotomy between the behests of reason 
and the profound essence of the purely female nature." 13 Such questions were dis- 
cussed in the many lectures on the "woman question" that were held in Moscow 
and St. Petersburg. "Fables and Truth about Woman," presented by the actress 
Alexandra Lepkovskaia at the Polytechnic Museum, Moscow, on February 17, 1914, 
and its accompanying debate can be perceived as a summary of the new attitude 
toward women as an artistic force in Russian society at that time. She argued that 
the myth of woman as an enigmatic and mysterious creature had led men to the 
"most contradictory inferences and opinions," [ + but that equal rights would cancel 
this image and a collective physiognomy would emerge, cleansed of "low inten- 
tions and impure passions." ! 5 Such thoughts may have seemed progressive to some 
of Lepkovskaia's respondents, but for the avant-garde poets and painters David 
Burliuk and Vladimir Mayakovsky, Lepkovskaia's speech was merely the "per- 
fumed, boudoir logic of philistines," for neither man nor woman enjoyed real 
creative freedom, except in the bedroom. 16 

The strong contribution of women artists to Modern Russian art was soon 
noticed by critics outside Russia. Hans Hildebrandt, for example, emphasized 
the role of women artists in both studio painting and design in his Die Frau als 
Kunstlerinn (1928), '7 and most of the early surveys of Russian Modernism draw 



jonn. e. BOWLT 



attention to this fact. Writing in 1916, for example, Mikhail Tsetlin. a friend of 
Goncharova, claimed that "women have bequeathed to Humanity's Treasury of Art 
incomparably more than might be supposed. It is they who have been the unseen, 
unknown collaborators of art. It is they who made the lace, embroidered the mate- 
rials, wove the carpet. They raised the artistic level of life by their aesthetic aspira- 
tions." l8 This plea for public and professional recognition of the anonymous 
artistic labor carried out by countless women as they sewed, stitched, and knitted 
is echoed in the attention that the Amazons gave to the applied arts, especially 
haberdashery. Malevich acknowledged his debt to this forgotten tradition when 
he declared, in describing the clothes and fabrics produced by Ukrainian peasant 
girls, that "art belonged to them more than to the men. " '9 

The intention of Amazons of the Avant- Garde is not to imply that Exter, 
Goncharova, Popova, Rozanova. Stepanova, and Udaltsova supported a single artis- 
tic style, a single cultural tradition, or a single political ideology. On the contrary, 
just as the Russian avant-garde was a collective of disparate avant-gardes, so these 
artists were of different philosophical schools and had different social aspirations 
and aesthetic convictions. Here are six personalities, often in conflict, that do not 
constitute a homogeneous unit (even if Kruchenykh identified all modern Russian 
women as "half cats, combinations of tinplate and copper, domestic stuff and 
machines"). 30 

Inevitably, this exhibition raises the often- asked question of why the women 
artists of the Russian avant-garde were ready, willing, and able to play such a pri- 
mary role in the development of their culture. There have been many attempts to 
grapple with this issue and to expose the underlying causes for the freedoms that 
Exter, Goncharova, and Stepanova in particular enjoyed — in artistic belief, in 
everyday behavior, in geographical movement, and in sentimental relationships. 
Rut no critical commentary seems to be comprehensive or satisfactory, in part 
because the criteria that may function when applied to Europe and the United 
States fail when applied to Russia. That many women artists "were dismissed as 
acolytes, seldom published their theories and allowed male colleagues to be their 
spokesmen" 21 may be true of the Western predicament, but certainly not of the 
Russian Amazons. Similarly, their creative energy cannot be explained by an 
alleged acceptance of the "initial support of the revolutionary forces," 22 because 
these artists produced most of their avant-garde work before 1917 and at that 
point, at least, were not especially committed to raw political change. In many 
respects the Russian Amazons run counter to Western assumptions concerning 
the creative freedom of women artists and writers. If the Russian avant-garde can 
be accepted as a creative polemic between the two masculine poles of Malevich 
(composition) and Tatlin (construction), then Exter, Goncharova, Popova. 
Rozanova, Stepanova, and Udaltsova can be accommodated easily between these 



2 5 



women of Genius 



two poles and regarded as their strongest missionaries. Malevich referred to 
Udaltsova as the "best Suprematist," and invited her, not Ivan Kliun or Rodchenko, 
to teach with him at Vkhutemas; and when, in an issue of Sinii zhurnal (Blue 
Journal), he stated that he hoped "all artists would lose their reason," Exter 
promptly seconded his motion. 23 

Judging from circumstantial evidence, there seems to have been no profes- 
sional jealousy between the male and the female factions in general or between 
partners in particular (Ksenia Boguslavskaia and Ivan Puni. Goncharova and 
Larionov, Popova and Alexander Vesnin, Rozanova and Kruchenykh, Udaltsova and 
Drevin). They painted and exhibited together, cosigned manifestos, illustrated the 
same books, spoke at the same conferences, and seemed almost oblivious of gender 
differences and gender rivalry. Women were not discriminated against in the prin- 
cipal exhibitions, such us Jack of Diamonds, The Donkey's Tail, Target, o.io, and 
Tramway V, and in some cases the number of female participants was equal to or 
even greater than the number of men. (Six of the thirteen participants in The Store 
exhibition and three of the five 1x15x5 = 25 were women.) Larionov not only encour- 
aged Goncharova to paint and experiment with Cubism and Rayism. but he also 
played a practical role in the organization of her one-person shows in 1913 and 
1914, gave her "exactly half the huge hall" 2 4 at The Donkey's Tail exhibition in 1913, 
and intended to devote the exhibition to follow No. 4, of 1914 — that is. No. 5 — to 
another retrospective of her, not his, paintings. q s True, in his Manifesto to Woman 
of September 1913, Larionov stated that he hoped women would "soon be going 
around with breasts totally bare, painted or tattooed" and that some would turn up 
like this at Goncharova's Moscow venue (which does not seem to have happened), 
but to be fair, he also distributed the onus of fashion, for he wanted men to shave 
asymmetrically, show their legs painted or tattooed, and wear sandals. 26 How differ- 
ent is this apparently serene and mutual respect from the attitude that the Italian 
Futurists advocated, with their explicit championship of masculinity and their 
"scorn for woman." 2 " Not that the women associated with Futurism accepted this 
position, as they demonstrated in their Manifesto della Donna futurista of 191?: 
"Women, for too long diverted between morals and prejudices, turn back to your 
sublime instinct: to violence and cruelty." 28 As we can sense from Goncharova's 
Letterto Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the Russian Amazons may well have subscribed 
to this same view, even if Popova did dedicate her Italian Still-Life, 1914 (plate 39) 
"to the Italian Futurists." 

While Larionov helped Goncharova with practical advice, their mutual friend 
Ilia Zdanevich produced an outrageous fictional biography for her, delivering this 
as a lecture in St. Petersburg in March 1914, to coincide with her one-person show 
there. According to this fantasy, Goncharova met Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne, 
lived in a nunnery, and traveled in the East and to Madagascar to meet the bushmen 



jonn. e. bowlt 



before going on to the Cape of Good Hope, India, Persia, Armenia, and returning 
to Russia via Odessa. 2 9 But on other occasions Zdanevich also did much to explain 
the importance of Goncharova's painting, her attitude toward Cubism and 
Divisionism, and her integration of East and West, and urban and rural cultures. 30 
The St. Petersburg physician, painter, and protector of the avant-garde Nikolai 
Kulbin supported Zdanevich, reasoning that the Realist works of Ilia Repin had 
once seemed as "savage" as the paintings of Goncharova did then. 3 ' Malevich was 
just as amenable to his female colleagues, inviting Popova. Rozanova, and Udaltsova 
to play major organizational and editorial roles in his unpublished journal 
Supremus, while Kruchenykh became Rozanova's diligent student as he composed 
his abstract collages for Vselenskaia voina (Universal War) in 1916 (see fig. 97). 

How can the cultural prominence and social tolerance of the Amazons be 
explained? One answer to this question is to be found in the tradition of compara- 
tive freedom that Russian women artists had been enjoying toward the end of the 
nineteenth century. In 1871, for example, the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. 
Petersburg began to admit women students, welcoming thirty- young ladies during 
that academic year, while the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and 
Architecture quickly followed suit. These measures contributed directly to the 
formation of the first generation of professional Russian women painters in 
the 1880s, which included the silhouettist Elizaveta Bern (to whom Elizaveta 
Kruglikova was much indebted), Ekaterina Krasnushkina, Alexandra Makovskaia 
(sister of the celebrated pompiers Konstantin, Nikolai, and Vladimir), Olga Lagoda- 
Shishkina (wife of the landscapist Ivan Shishkin). and Emiliia Shanks, all of whom 
painted or etched in a competent, if not brilliant, manner. The legendary Mariia 
Bashkirtseva also belongs to this new generation of women artists, even though she 
spent most of her short creative life in France. 32 

The kind of narrative and didactic Realism that distinguished Russian art and 
literature in the 1880s and 1890s was soon replaced by a concern with decorative 
and aesthetic demands, an impulse that informed the development of the move- 
ment known as Neo- Nationalism or the Neo- Russian style, with its emphasis on 
the applied arts and industrial design. Russian women were largely responsible for 
the rapid expansion of this movement, stimulating the restoration of Russian arts 
and crafts, such as weaving, embroidery, wood carving, and enameling. For exam- 
ple, a principal stimulus of the diverse cultural achievements at Abramtsevo, 
Sawa Mamontov's art retreat near the Orthodox center of Zagorsk, and. indeed, 
to the preservation and conservation of Russian antiquities in general, came from 
Mamontov's wife, Elizaveta Mamontova. By drawing attention to the Russian 
applied arts. Mamontova, together with the artists Natalia Davydova. Elena 
Polenova, and Mariia Yakunchikova, restored and appraised an entire cultural 
legacy and helped to build a platform upon which famous designers such as Leon 



27 



women of cenms 



Bakst and Goncharova would launch the spectacular success of Russian stage, 
book, and fashion design in the 1910s and 1930s. 

In this respect, the parallel accomplishments of the artist, collector, and 
patroness Princess Mariia Tenisheva deserve particular praise. Beginning in the 
late 1890s Tenisheva welcomed many distinguished artists, including Nicholas 
Roerich and Mikhail Vrubel, to her art colony, Talashkino. near Smolensk. As the 
Mamontovs had done to Ahramtsevo, Tenisheva collected traditional arts and 
crafts, established workshops, designed and constructed a church, and financed 
her own intimate theater. A talented enameler and historian of the discipline, 33 
Tenisheva promoted the patterns and leitmotifs of local Russian ornaments, inte- 
grating them with the sinuosity of Western Art Nouveau, a striking combination 
that was well in evidence in the Talashkino section at the Paris World's Fair in 1900. 

Natalia Dobychina ran Russia's foremost private art gallery, the Art Bureau, 
between 1911 and 1919. 3 4 Situated on the field of Mars in St. Petersburg, the Art 
Bureau became a focus of contemporary artistic life, presenting many exhibitions 
and promoting numerous styles, from the extreme right to the extreme left. 
Dobychina herself was a no-nonsense manager who "dealt with the artistic 
Olympuses of both capitals as she would with her household menagerie. " 3 s While 
profitting from fashionable painters such as Bakst, Alexandre Benois, and Somov, 
she did not hesitate to indulge in more provocative ventures. For example, the Art 
Bureau sponsored the Goncharova retrospective in 1914 and 0.10 the following 
year; included works by Chagall. Exter. Rozanova, and other radicals in its regular 
surveys; and supported soirees that included musical performances and poetry 
declamations. True, Dobychina was a merchant for whom material investment was 
perhaps more important than aesthetic commitment, but, nevertheless, she can 
be regarded as one of several important Russian patronesses or "facilitators" of the 
Modernist era whose activities exposed and publicized new ideas about painting, 
poetry, and music. Moreover, she stood up for her rights, protesting vociferously, 
for example, when "twelve paintings offending the religious feeling of visitors" 
were removed from the Goncharova show by the civic authorities. 36 

The Amazons of the avant-garde were distinguished by a similar champi- 
onship of the new, as well as by a common sense and organizational spirit often 
lacking in their male colleagues. They expressed this synthetic talent not only in 
their disciplined, analytical paintings, but also in their ready application of ideas 
to functional designs such as books, textiles, and the stage. 

Goncharova turned her very life into a work of art, painting her face and 
bosom, challenging the public, and exhibiting paintings that the Moscow censor 
deemed sacrilegious. "How great that, instead of Leon Bakst, you will become 
Russia's ambassador," declared Zdanevich, in a letter to Goncharova just before 
she left Russia for Paris, having been invited there by Diaghilev to design sets and 



JOHn. e. BOWLT 



costumes for his Ballets Russes. 3 ? Obviously, personal interaction with the public, 
whether provincial philistines or Parisian balletomanes, was of vital importance 
to her, and the performance of her life generated the most diverse responses. 
The reviews of her 1914 St. Petersburg retrospective indicate just how provocative 
Goncharova, as a woman artist, had become by then. On the one hand. Viktor 
Zarubin saw in her paintings "the disgusting, cross-eyed, crooked, green and red 
mugs of peasants," 38 while on the other, Georgii Vereisky spoke of her "magnifi- 
cent gift of color" 3 ?; Yakov Tugendkhold steered a middle course between violent 
censure and unmitigated praise, in one review identifying Goncharova as a 
"woman who lacks the ability and tenacity to bring things to their logical comple- 
tion and who flitters from one easy victory to the next,"* and in another referring 
to her trials and tribulations as the "concentrated biography of the whole of con- 
temporary Russian art."* 1 In some sense Tugendkhold was right, for before she 
went to Paris and devoted her energies to stage design, Goncharova worked rapidly 
and impulsively, assimilating and refracting the most diverse aesthetic concepts. 
She left the "huge strength of Russia" for a "dry and pale Europe"* 2 in 1914, at the 
apex of her career, before she had fully developed her interpretation of Rayism and 
abstract painting, which she left for her fellow Amazons Exter, Popova, and 
Rozanovatodo. 

Although Exter lived for extended periods in France and Italy, she maintained 
constant contact with the avant-garde in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev, and 
from the outset was an important intermediary between French Cubism and 
Simultanism and between Italian Futurism and Russian Cubo- Futurism, 
Suprematism, and Constructivism. As early as 1908, her paintings at David 
Burliuk's Link exhibition in Kiev stimulated a response that was typical of preju- 
dices then and now: "Mr. Exter has daubed his canvas with unrelieved blue paint, 
the right corner with green, and signed his name."* 3 While intended as a dispar- 
agement, this review emphasizes both the ultimate "transsexuality" of the Russian 
avant-garde and the real accomplishment of Exter's artistic system — that is, her 
almost physical love of color and paint. Even if tinged by the formal restraints of 
French Cubism and the linear dynamics of Italian Futurism, Exter's paintings 
manifest an extraordinary sensitivity to color and hence to the new concept of stu- 
dio painting as an independent exploration of color consonance, dissonance, 
rhythm, and arhythmicality. As a follower of Suprematism from 1916 on, the "very 
bold" Exter** painted non-objective works that depended exclusively on spectral, 
planar contrasts for their effect. 

Certainly, Exter was an accomplished studio painter, but her interest in picto- 
rial construction and three-dimensional spatial resolution also brought her to the 
medium of the stage. Yet unlike many other artists — especially those who worked 
for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, such as Bakst and Goncharova — Exter was drawn 



29 



women of Genius 



less to the illustrative or narrative functions of set and costume, regarding the lat- 
ter, for example, as a "living moving relief, a living colored sculpture." +5 It was the 
whole idea of material construction, of space as a component of the composition, 
that attracted her, as is manifest in her designs for Alexander Tairov's 1916 pro- 
duction of Thamira Khytharedes and costumes for Yakov Protozanov's 1924 film 
Aelita (fig. 84). In her stage designs, Exterde- emphasized ornament, employed 
colored lights for dynamic effect, and attempted to transfer the kinetic element of 
Suprematist painting — the intersection and collision of colored geometric units — 
to the stage. It is easy to understand why she was so drawn to the cinema, with its 
kinetic denominator, its continuous interfusion of planes and volumes, and its 
formal definitions via gradations of light. Exter also tried to transmit this sensa- 
tion of malleable space to her other design enterprises — marionettes, clothes, 
interiors, and books, all of which can be regarded as architectural exercises in the 
combination of volume, color, and tactility. As her Kiev student Alexander Tyshler 
said: "In her hands, a simple paper lampshade turned into a work of art. " * 6 

Like Exter, Rozanova was well aware of Italian Futurism, although unlike Exter, 
she did not travel in Italy and did not have an Italian companion (Exter and 
Ardengo Soffici were close friends). In her careful application of the Italian 
Futurist evocation of mechanical speed, explosivity, and mobility, Rozanova fol- 
lowed the same path as Malevich (as in his Knife -Grinder, 1912;) and Kliun (as in his 
Ozonator. 1913—14), and her concurrent writings suggest, she regarded Futurism to 
be a key phase in the artistic evolution toward Suprematism. Rozanova expressed 
this impulse not only in her vivid, dynamic paintings, but also in what Yurii 
Annenkov described as the "black plumes of her drawing. " +? She used these 
"plumes" to decorate some of the most radical books of the Cubo- Futurists, espe- 
cially those of Kruchenykh, including Vzorval (Explodity, 1913), Vozropshchem 
(Let's Grumble, 1913), and Telile (1914); her drawings for these projects inspired 
Kruchenykh to call her the "first woman artist of St. Petersburg. "4 8 

Rozanova's visual deductions were calculated and formal, and she avoided 
the puns and puzzles that Goncharova applied to her Futurist paintings, such as 
Bicyclist, 1913—13 (fig. 54). In their force lines and collisions. Rozanova's evoca- 
tions of the city in works such as Man on the Street (Analysis of Volumes) , 1913, and 
Fire in the City (Cityscape), 1914 (plate 43) bringto mind Exter's parallel experi- 
ments, as in Cityscape (Composition) , ca. 1916 (plate 8). This process of deduction 
led Rozanova to her remarkable Suprematist pieces of 1916 on. As a leading advo- 
cate of a nonfigurative art form, she had no sympathy with those who remained 
behind: "Only the absence of honesty and of a true love of art provides some artists 
with the affrontery to live on stale cans of artistic economics stocked up for years, 
and, year in year out, until they are fifty, to mutter about what they had first started 
to talk about when they were twenty. "49 Rozanova was consistent and rational in 

3o 



J0HI1. e. BOWLT 



her methodology, whether she was working on paintings, drawings, or book 
designs. Her premature death in 1918, said Annenkov, left "one less world in the 
universe." 5° Kliun wrote: "Her ever-searching soul, her exceptionally developed 
sense of intuition could never compromise with the old forms and always protested 
against all repetition, whether in everyday life or in art. 5 1 

If Rozanova traced her pictorial discipline to Italian Futurism, Popova and 
Udaltsova saw French Cubism as their main stylistic laboratory. Not interested in 
messianic philosophy or narrative anecdote, they regarded painting as painting. 
Even before their apprenticeship to Henri Le Fauconnier and Jean Metzinger in 
Paris, they accepted the aesthetic principles of one of their first Moscow teachers, 
KonstantinYuon, for whom the important elements in painting were "architecture 
because of its definiteness, contrast, precision, and constructiveness . . . light 
because of its peculiar magical force . . . space because of its ability to transform, 
to universalize, to absorb everything tangible. "5 2 Popova'sand Udaltsova's tenure 
at La Palette reinforced these basic assumptions, for they were now encouraged 
to perceive the object only in terms of form, texture, and coloration, to break the 
object into facets and to reassemble it, and to apply extraneous details of collage 
and verbal language in order to enhance the composition. A comparison of 
Popova's Guitar, 1915 (plate 3o) and Udaltsova's Guitar Fugue, 1914-15 (plate 77) 
demonstrates how diligently and mechanically these two women learned their 
Cubist lessons. 

French Cubism, of course, had an impact on many Russian artists, from Robert 
Falk to Malevich, from Vera Pestel to Tatlin, but Udaltsova was perhaps its most 
faithful practitioner. More than Popova, who "didn't understand much of what Le 
Fauconnier was saying, "5 3 Udaltsova assimilated the formulae that Le Fauconnier 
and Metzinger were teaching: she accepted the Cubist vocabulary of guitars, vio - 
lins, and nudes, repeated the restrained color schemes, and applied the faceting 
and foreshortening with fluency and ease. For Udaltsova, form, structure, and 
composition were the essence of studio painting, and she explored the Cubist style 
precisely as an exercise in analysis and "deconstruction," sometimes distributing 
Cyrillic characters to provide a Russian identity, as inNew, 1914—15 (plate 79). 

Like Popova, Udaltsova was aware of Italian Futurism, and her representation 
of rapid movements through space in Seamstress, 1913—13 (plate 74) — as in 
Goncharova's concurrent The Weaver (Loom + Woman), 1913—13 (plate 31) — tell us 
that she was aware of Umberto Boccioni in particular. With their repeated lines, 
articulations, and dynamic trajectories, Udaltsova's larger canvases of the mid- 
1910s, such as.4t the Piano, 1915 (plate 76) come close to Popova's works (such as 
Traveling Woman, 1915 [plate 33]), and they already contain the linear emanations 
and collisions that she applied to her decorations for fabrics and accessories of 
1916-18. Udaltsova's infrequent sallies into Suprematist painting are also distin- 



women of Genius 



guished by an emphasis on purely formal resolutions rather than by the cult of 
color that we associate with Malevich and Rozanova — in spite of her assertion that 
the "artists of today have arrived at the fundamental principle of painting: color 
(color-painting). "54 Indeed, Udaltsova's role in the promotion of the Suprematist 
cause and the Supremus circle seems to have been more that of a theoretical custo - 
dian than that of a visual producer-, while she welcomed "the freedom of pure cre- 
ativity," 55 she maintained her Cubist system, and her modest Suprematist 
compositions in watercolor and gouache can hardly compete with her major Cubist 
oils, such asKitchen, 1915 (plate 84). It is surprising, therefore, that Udaltsova 
made an abrupt turn toward a kind of narrative Expressionism in the early 1930s, 
producing figurative works — portraits and landscapes — that rely upon new struc- 
tures beneath heavy impasto and pulsating texture. After years of Cubist asceti- 
cism, Udaltsova suddenly discovered the density and consistency of paint. 
Pursuing a restrained table of color, Udaltsova and her husband, Drevin, came to 
share a common vocabulary and style, and by the 1930s they were painting in a very 
similar manner. 

The formal discipline that Popova acknowledged in French Cubism was a clear 
inspiration to her architectonic paintings of 1916 on, although again it may have 
been Yuon who suggested the denotation to her, for he maintained that Modern art 
had returned to the "forgotten culture of the statics of form, i.e.. painterly archi- 
tectonics." 5 6 In any case, Popova's architectonic paintings are important for two 
reasons in particular: they are laboratory experiments in texture, weight, color 
density, and rhythm; and they are a modular series of exercises that both intercon- 
nect organically and seem to anticipate Popova's wider application of their forms 
to textile designs and book covers in the early 1930s. After all, these two qualities 
prompted Popova and her colleagues to organize 5" x 5 = 35 in 1931, andVsevolod 
Meierkhold to recognize Popova's potential as a stage designer as soon as he saw 
her contributions to that exhibition. 

Like Popova, Stepanova explored numerous stylistic formulae — from Art 
Nouveau to Suprematism — before reaching her interpretation of Constructivism, 
but her importance lies primarily in her theoretical and practical contributions to 
early Soviet culture. She was an active member of Inkhuk and Lef, taught at 
Vkhutemas, and participated in the radical exhibitions of 1919—31, such as Tenth 
State Exhibition: Non-Objective Creativity and Suprematism, Nineteenth State 
Exhibition, and^a^ = 35. Stepanova's writings indicate a vigorous curiosity and 
bold provocativeness that questioned and undermined conventional attitudes 
toward the fine arts, especially the established hierarchies of "high" and "low," 
fine and applied. Her participation in the ongoing debate at Inkhuk on construc- 
tion ("centripetal" form) versus composition ("centrifugal" form), her ideas on 
texture, tectonics, and rhythm, her immediate recognition of utilitarian design as 

3 2 



J0HI1. e. BOWLT 



the only legitimate extension of abstract painting, and her commitment to book 
and textile design as primary elements of the new Soviet "look" make Stepanova 
one of the most uncompromising and aggressive champions of Soviet 
Constructivism. 

As Stepanova herself asserted, she owed much to her husband Rodchenko, 
and her artistic career cannot be understood without reference to his concurrent 
inventions. But it would be misleading to regard her as merely a student or 
apprentice; rather, Stepanova and Rodchenko — like Goncharova and Larionov — 
should be accepted as an artistic team that functioned by interchange and interac- 
tion rather than by dominance and subservience. As a result, Stepanova's and 
Rodchenko's respective artworks are often similar in conception and medium, 
because they tended to share the same work space, fulfill the same commissions, 
use the same materials, and visit with the same friends (among them the film- 
maker Esfir Shub and her husband, Alexei Gan ; Vladimir Mayakovsky and Osip 
and Lilya Brik; and Popova and Alexander Vesnin). The formal parallels are espe- 
cially striking in their collages and linocuts of 1918— 20 (which often contain frag- 
ments from the same postcards and newspapers) and in their propaganda albums 
of the 1930s. 

Even so, Stepanova's aesthetic and emotional approaches to the artistic 
process were very different from Rodchenko's, for she did not share his enthusi- 
asm for minimal painting, the non- objective three - dimensional construction, 
or even photography (not that she avoided these mediums altogether). Rather, 
Stepanova advocated the primacy of the handmade or machine-made object, advo- 
cating a public art that could communicate and benefit its audience, such as book 
and stage design, textiles, andprozodezhda (professional clothing), even if her (and 
Popova's) projects for industrial production underwent substantial changes at the 
hands of the factory collective. 5? Perhaps this is why Stepanova emphasized the 
human figure, even in what she saw as her most radical paintings, such as Dancing 
Figures on White, 1920 (plate 65), for if these moving figures are streamlined and 
robotic, they still relate to a world of people working, playing, and dancing. 

Symptomatic of Stepanova's outreach program was her reinvention and 
manipulation of verbal and visual language, in the combinations of phonic and 
semiotic systems that she constructed in her graphic or visual poetry of 1917—19. 
In her application and exploration of a transrational order of neologisms, as in 
RtnyKhomle, Stepanova was paying homage to the Cubo- Futurist zaum poetry 
practiced by Velimir Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh well before the Revolution and 
investigated also by avant-garde painters, including Pavel Filonov, Malevich. and 
Rozanova.5 8 In fact, some of Stepanova's graphic designs are intended as illustra- 
tions of— or, rather, as complements to — Kruchenykh's zau?n poetry (such as 
"Gly-Gly," see figs. 72, 102). Ingivingvisualshapeto Kruchenykh's and her own 

33 



women of cenius 



"words at liberty," Stepanovawas creating an Esperanto that was universally 
(in)comprehensible in the same way that a baby's babbling or a dog's barking 
might be. The phonemes that Stepanova assembled in jazzy, kinetic compositions — 
"sherekht zist kigs mast kzhems usdr azbul gaguch chirguza," and so on — elicit a 
savage primal sound from the dawn of civilization. Hers is a linguistic and visual 
Neo-Primitivism, consistent in its incomprehensibility, whose harsh and bewil- 
dering sounds — like a battle cry, a warning sign, or a siren — force us to listen and 
to look. These miniature syntheses of transrational verse and non- objective paint- 
ing are among Stepanova's most audacious experiments in communication, and 
they undoubtedly prepared the way for her more celebrated applications of color 
to word in the form of her stage designs for Meierkhold's 1922 production of The 
Death ofTarelkin and Vitalii Zhemchuzhnyi's Evening of the Book (1924) • 

After the October Revolution, the world of monumental propaganda and agit- 
design attracted many women artists. Sofia Dymshits-Tolstaia, wife of the writer 
Alexei Tolstoy and a student of Tatlin, helped with the decoration and illumination 
of Moscow for the first anniversary of the Bolshevik coup. Pestel, Udaltsova, and 
Elizaveta Yakunina also contributed to the decoration of the city streets and 
squares. Beatrisa Sandomirskaia, then a Cubist sculptress, designed a concrete 
statue of Robespierre for Lenin's Plan of Monumental Propaganda, but it was 
promptly destroyed by a grenade allegedly thrown by counterrevolutionaries. In 
some respects, the activities of the Blue Blouse theaters in the mid- 1920s can also 
be regarded as an extension of agit- design, and Nina Aizenberg's simple, workaday 
costumes, like Tatiana Brum's, must have appealed to the proletarian audiences. 

But if women artists had been at the very center of the Russian avant-garde, 
they retired to the periphery of its countermovements, Heroic and Socialist 
Realism, in the late 1920s and 1930s. Many accepted the doctrine of Socialist 
Realism and extended its directives in their works, among them Serafima 
Riangina's painting Higher! Ever Higher! , 1984, and Mukhina's enormous statue 
Worker and Collective Farm Woman on top of the Soviet Pavilion at the Paris World's 
Fair in 1937 (fig. 10). But these statements were the exception rather than the rule, 
for, by force of circumstances, the female Socialist Realists followed rather than 
led, illustrated rather than dictated. Their artistic victories were secondary and 
their works distant from the radicalism of Exter, Goncharova, Popova, Rozanova, 
Stepanova, and Udaltsova. Soviet women artists operated in a very different ambi- 
ence from the women of the avant-garde, for the matriarchy of the Amazons was 
now replaced by a new hierarchical patriarchy, in which the male artist — whether 
Iosif Brodsky as Stalin's court painter or Alexander Gerasimov as president of the 
Academy — was again the person of privilege and power. But there is a historical 
and mythological consistency in this volte-face: after all, the Amazons had been 
the female warriors who had warred against the Greeks, the robust outsiders who 

34. 



J0HI1. C BOWLT 



had threatened and undermined the precise boundaries of a classical civilization. 
Obviously, with the abrupt return to order and the new classicism of Soviet art, 
such vandalous viragos, "primitive and childish," 59 could no longer be tolerated — 
and they were not. 

i . "Women of Genius" is the translation of Genialnye zhenshchiny, the title of an anonymous book 
on Mariia Bashkirtseva, Eleonora Duze, Sofia Kovalevskaia, and other Russian women (St. 
Petersburg: Vecherniaia zaria. ca. 1900). 

2. Benedikt Livshits, Polutoraglazyi strelets (Leningrad: Izdatelstvo pisatelei v Leningrad, 1933), p. 
143; Benedikt Livshits, The One and a Half- Eyed Archer, trans. John E. Bowlt (Newtonville, MA: 
Oriental Research Partners. 1977), pp. 128-29. 

3. Bekhteev's Battle of the Amazons, 1914-15, is in a private collection in Paris; Yakulov's painting of 
the same title (1912) is in the collection of the State Picture Gallery, Erevan. 

4. Andrei Somov, "Zhenshchiny-khudozhnitsy." in Vestnik iziaschnykh iskusstv (St. Petersburg: 
i883), vol. 1, pp. 356-83, 489-524. 

5. Alexei Novitsky, htoriia russkogo iskusstva (Moscow: Mamontov, 1903), vol. 2, pp. 514—32. 

6. The relationship between the Russian avant-garde and the "establishment" was an intricate and 
ambivalent one. While artists such as David Burliuk, Goncharova. and Larionov wanted to "shock 
the bourgeoisie," they also relied upon it for material support, promotion, and camaraderie. This 
is indicated not only by the fact that pillars of the establishment looked after the interests of the 
avant-garde (for example, the leading Moscow lawyer Mikhail Khodasevich defended 
Goncharova against accusations leveled by the Moscow Justice of the Peace in 1909), but also by 
the fact that avant-garde artists often had themselves photographed next to the rich and the 
titled. 

7. According to Valentin Kurdov, even in 1 9 18 the "naturalistic details" of Stepan Erzia's Liberated 
Man caused women to cover their faces and the local authorities to remove the statue. Kurdov, 
Pamiatnye dniigody (St. Petersburg: Arsis, 1994), p. 15. 

8. Boris Lopatin, "Futurizm-suprematizm" (1915), in Herman Berninger and Jean-Albert Cartier. 
Pougny (Tubingen: Wasmuth, 1972). p. 56. 

9. Quoted by Mikhail Larionov in his review of Goncharova's one-day exhibition at the Society of 
Free Aesthetics, Moscow, March 24, 1909, at the opening of which three of her pictures were 
"confiscated" on grounds of "pornography": "Gazetnye kritiki v roli politsii nravov," Zolotoe runo 
(Moscow), nos. 11-12 (1909, appeared spring 1910), p. 97. 

10. See, for example, Fedor Bulgakov, Venera iApollon (St. Petersburg: Suvorin, 1899), and 
Zhenshchinaviskusstve($>t. Petersburg: Suvorin, 1899). 

11. See Richard Stites, The Women's Liberation Movement in Russia (Princeton: Princeton University 
Press, 1978), p. 141. 

12. Vasilii Kostylev, "Nashi ' ama.zonki,'" Zhurnal dlia khoziaek {Journal for Housewives) (Moscow), no. 
19 (October 1, 1914), p. 24. 

i3. Genialnye zhenshchiny, p. 2. 

14. Quoted in "Skazkiipravdaozhenshchine,"i?on.neeutro (Moscow), February 18, 1914. 

15. Ibid. 

16. Quoted in "Disput zhenshchine," Russkie vedomosti (Moscow), February 18, 1914. 

17. Hans Hildebrandt, Die Frau als Kunstlerin (Berlin: Mosse, 1928). 

18. Amari [Mikhail Tsetlin], "Natalia Goncharova," in Winifred Stephens, ed.. The Soul of Russia 



35 



women of Genius 



(London: MacMillan, 1916), p. 76. 
1 9 . Kazimir Malevieh, "Glavy iz avtobiografii khudozhnika. " in Vasilii Rakitin and Andrei 

Sarabianov, eds., N. I. Khardzhiev. Stati ob avangarde (Moscow: RA, 1997), vol. 1, p. 114. 
30. Alexei Kruchenykh, zhenskoi krasote (Baku: Literaturno-izdatelskii Otdel politotdela Kasflota, 

1930), unpaginated. 
ai. Donna Stein. "The Turbulent Decades." in Stein, et al.. Women Artists in the Avant-Garde: 

1970—1930, exh. cat. (New York: Rachel Adler Gallery. 1984). unpaginated. 

22. Rebecca Cunningham, "The Russian Women Artist/Designers of the Avant-Garde," Theatre 
Design and Technology (London), spring 1998, p. 50. 

23. Malevich's and Exter's statements accompanied a photograph captioned "Paskha u futuristov" 
(Easter with the Futurists) in Sinii zhurnal (Petrograd), no. 12 (Marcli2i, 1915). p. 9. 

24. Varsanofii Parkin, "Oslinyi khvost i mishen." in Parkin et al., Oslinyi khvost i mishen (Moscow: 
Mmnster, 1913) p. 55. 

25. Mikhail Larionov, letterto Ilia Zdanevich, 1914, State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg, 
Manuscript Section (call no.: f. 177, ed. khr. 88,1.12. verso) . In the same letter Larionov writes 
that the exhibition after that, No. 6, would be devoted to Rayism. 

26. "Manifest k muzhchine i manifest k zhenshchine," Stolichnaia molva (Moscow), no. 327 
(September 15. 1913). p. 5. 

27. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. "Manifesto of Futurism" (1909), in Charles Harrison and Paul 
Wood,j4rt in Theory lyoo-iggo (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), p. 147. 

28. Valentine de Saint-Point, "Manifesto della Donna futurista" (1912), in Lea Vergine et al., L'altra 
meta deU'avanguardia 1910-7940, exh. cat. (Milan: Comune di Milano, 1980), p. 78. 

29. Ilia Zdanevich, "N. S. Goncharovaivsechestvo" (October 1913), lecture delivered on March 3i, 
1914; State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Manuscript Section (call no.: f. 177, ed. khr. 15, 11. 1. 
19,22, 26). 

30. See Ilia Zdanevich, untitled lecture on the occasion of Goncharova's retrospectives in Moscow 
and St. Petersburg; State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg. Manuscript Section 

(call no.: f. 177, ed.khr. 24). 
3i. Nikolai Kulbin, "Garmoniia, dissonans i tesnye sochetaniiaviskusstve izhizni," in Ilia Repinet 
al.. Trudy Vserossiiskogo Sezda khudozhmkov v Petrograde 1911-1912 (St. Petersburg: Golike and 
Vilborg, 1914), vol. 1, p. 39. 

32. For further information on Bashkirtseva's involvement in the movement for women's rights, see 
Colette Cosnier, Marie Bashkirtseff: Un portrait sans retouches (Paris: Horay. 1885), pp. 215—30. I 
would like to thank Tatiana Mojenock for providing me with this information. 

33. Tenisheva wrote a dissertation on the subject of enameling, which was published as Emal 1 inkrus- 
tatsiia (Prague: Seminarium Kondakovianum, 1930). 

34. During the 1910s Dobychina also conducted a busy correspondence with Russian artists both at 
home and abroad, including Marc Chagall. Exter, Vasily Kandinsky. Kulbin. Larionov, and 
Rodchenko; see Russian State Library, Moscow, Manuscript Section 

(call, no.: f. 420, op. i3, ed. khr. 60). Apart from an anonymous article, "Slavazhizni," 
Muzykalnaia zhizn (Moscow), no. 3 (1993), p. 3o, little else has been published on Dobychina. 

35. Livshits. The One and a Half -Eyed Archer, p. 116. 

36. "Udaleniekartinsvystavki,"Den (St. Petersburg). March 17, 1914; unpaginated copy in Russian 
State Library, Moscow, Manuscript Section (call, no.: f. 420, 0. 1, ed. khr. 32). 

37. Ilia Zdanevich, undated letter to Natalia Goncharova. State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg, 
Manuscript Section (call, no.: f. 177, ed. khr. 57, 1. 7). 



36 



JOHn. e. BOWLT 



38. Viktor Zarubin, "Futurizm i koshchunstvo," Severnyi listok (St. Petersburg), March 16, 1914; 
unpaginated copy in Russian State Library, Moscow, Manuscript Section (call no.: f. 430, 0. 1, ed. 
khr. 32). 

39. G. V. [GeorgiiVereisky], "Vystavka Goncharovoi," Teatri iskusstvo (St. Petersburg), no. 15 (April 
i3, 1914), p. 339. 

40. YakovTugendkhold, "Vystavka kartin Natalii Goncharovoi, "Apollon (St. Petersburg), no. 6 
(1913), p. 71. 

41. YakovTugendkhold, "Sovremennoe iskusstvo i narodnost/'Set'emje zapiski (St. Petersburg). 
November 1913, p. 153. 

4a. Natalia Goncharova, letter to Sergei Bobrov, February i3, 1917, Russian State Archive of 

Literature and Art, Moscow (call no.: f. 2554, op. 1, ed. khr. 28, 1. 5). 
43. Savenko, quoted inAlexei Filippov, "0 vystavkakh," V 'mire iskusstv (Kiev), nos. 2—3 (1908), p. 3o. 
44. 1. Chuzhanov, "Vystavki," Vmire iskusstv (Kiev), nos. 14-16 (1908), p. 21. 

45. "Kostiumy i dekoratsii Alexandry Exter," Teatr-iskusstvo-ekran (Paris), January 1925, p. 19. 

46. Quoted in Olga Voronova, V. I. Mukhina (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1976), p. 43. 

47. Yurii Annenkov, "Teatr chistogo metoda" (ca. 1920), Russian State Archive of Literature and Art, 
Moscow (call, no.: f. 2618, op. 1, ed. khr. 14, L. 173). 

48. Quoted inVeraTerekhinaetal., OlgaRozanova 1886-1918, exh. cat. (Helsinki: Helsinki City 
Museum, 1992), p. 36. 

49. Olga Rozanova, "Osnovy novogo tvorchestva i prichiny ego neponimaniia," Soiuz molodezhi (St. 
Petersburg), March 1913, p. 20; translated in John E. Bowlt, The Russian Avant- Garde: Theory and 
Criticism, n)oz-n)3^, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1988), p. 109. 

50. Annenkov, "Teatr chistogo metoda." 

51. Ivan Kliun, untitled essay, inPervaia Gosudarstvennaia vystavka. Katalog posmertnoi vystavki kartin. 
etiudov, eskizov i risunkov O.V. Rozanovoi, exh. cat. (Moscow: Kushnerev, 1919), p. III. 

52. Konstantin Yuon, Avtobiografua (Moscow: GAKhN, 1926), p. 46. 

53. Nadezhda Udaltsova, quoted in Voronova, V. 1. Mukhina. p. 27. 

54. Nadezhda Udaltsova, untitled article forSu.prem.us (1917). 
55- Ibid. 

56. Yuon, Avtobiografiia, p. 24. 

57. David Aronovich, "Desiat let iskusstva," Krasnaianov (Moscow) 11 (November 1927), p. 236. 

58. For examples of this experimental poetry and commentary on it, see Jutta Hercher and Peter 
Urban, eds. , Erstens, Zweitens, vol. I: "Dichtungen russischer Maler" (Hamburg: Material -Verlag. 
1998). 

59. The critic Osip Beskin used these terms in his description of Udaltsova's painting; see Beskin, 
Formalizm v zhivopisi (Moscow and Leningrad: Vsekokhudozhnik, 1933), p. 9. 



3? 




figure3.naTaua GoncHarova 

Self-Portrait with Yellow Lilies, 1907 
Oil on canvas, 77 x 58.2 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow 



six (anD a Few more) 
russian women of THe 
avanT-GarDe TOGeTHer 



CHanoTTe DoiiGLas 



In Natalia Goncharova's Self- Portrait with Yellow Lilies, 1907 (fig. 3. plate i3) the 
painter stands before a wall chock-full of work, holding a bouquet of tiger lilies. 
She confronts the viewer without pretense, withholding nothing, directly and 
openly pleased with the paintings behind her. We see her plain, her hair held 
close to her head by a scarf. The feminine ruffle on her sleeve is countered by the 
awkward, muscular right hand emerging from it. a powerful hand, which seems 
only temporarily to have exchanged the painter's brush for orange flowers. 

Goncharova gives us here a splendid image of the women of the Russian avant- 
garde: like the artist looking out at us from Self -Portrait with Yellow Lilies, most of 
these women were vital and direct, hardworking, competitive, and uncompromis- 
ing in their view of themselves. As the subject of an exhibition they would seem the 
ideal group — women artists who lived in the same time and place, who knew each 
other, and whose art is substantial enough to merit the attention of even a male- 
privileged history. 

Yet in looking at this exhibition the viewer should be cautious, for the show 
raises certain interpretive questions. On what basis can we treat these six artists 
as a "group"? There is no evidence that they considered themselves a separate 
category — "female artists" — and in fact they would certainly have considered 
such a distinction a form of marginalization. Their letters, diaries, and memoirs, 
as far as we know them, reveal little consciousness of gender identity, at least in 
terms of their art. 1 



39 



six (anD a Few more) russian women 



Perhaps the best reason for isolating these women from their male colleagues 
is to enable us to consider in detail their striking successes and the centrality of 
their work in their time, which seem so unusual in the experience of the rest of the 
Western art world. Why, we want to ask — for our own sake — these women at this 
time in this place? It is an interesting historical question. Even so, we should not 
lose sight of the fact that the artists themselves would have felt it artificial to single 
them out, and quite beside the point. They accepted and worked almost completely 
within the male exhibition-and-sales paradigm, and they considered themselves 
artists first, zealous participants in a great aesthetic revolution. In this, a gendered 
identity seems to have played hardly any role at all. 

But the viewer should take care not to judge these women — their identities as 
modern artists or their summary artistic merit — on the basis of paintings alone. 
As we view the exhibition we should remember that in no case did their artistic 
record consist only of painting; like many of their vanguard peers, they responded 
to the demands and interests of their times with a variety of artistic forms. True 
Modernists, who felt they could and should change the look of the world at large, 
they were stage designers, sculptors, photographers, and designers of books, tex- 
tiles, and clothing. Therefore, I include here the activities of Alexandra Exter, 
Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, Varvara Stepanova, and 
Nadezhda Udaltsova beyond their engagement with the tradition of studio art. 

An important question is how the women interacted. Did they know and iden- 
tify with one another? Did they work together? Share artistic or other interests? 
Have similar experiences? Influence each other? Most shared a social class. Of the 
six artists in the exhibition, four were financially and socially secure. In their 
artistic activities Goncharova, Exter, Udaltsova, and Popova exercised the self- 
assuredness of the urban middle class; their male counterparts, by contrast, were 
more likely to be less well off and from the provinces. The friends and connections 
of the women undoubtedly offered certain advantages — in the reception of their 
exhibitions, in publicizing their work, and in the recruiting of potential patrons. 

Goncharova was the oldest. A year older than Exter, four years older than Sonia 
Delaunay, five years older than Udaltsova and Rozanova, she served as a role model 
and set the stage for the others. Behind the deceptively demure exterior that looks 
out at us from old photographs of her was a delightfully irreverent, sexy woman, 
passionately outspoken about artistic matters. Goncharova sometimes favored an 
extremely low decollete, sported trousers on occasion, and without any thought 
of marriage lived openly with the painter Mikhail Larionov. Her exuberance and 
directness scandalized society, and she often outraged critics and official 
guardians of public morals, who expectantly examined her art for evidence of hid- 
den meanings. Such attention more than once hindered the progress of her career. 

Goncharova's connection with future members of the avant-garde dates from 



40 



CHanoTTe DOucLas 



1906, when she was associated with the Symbolist journal Zolotoe runo (The Golden 
Fleece) and also met the future impresario Sergei Diaghilev, who facilitated her 
entry into the Russian section of the Paris Salon d'Automne. The next year she 
joined a group of Symbolist painters, Venok- Stephanos (a coupling of the Russian 
and Greek words for "wreath"). With Larionov; Aristarkh Lentulov; Liudmila, 
David, and Vladimir Burliuk; Goncharova exhibited Impressionist still lifes and 
landscapes in December 1907 at the gallery of the Stroganov Art Institute in 
Moscow, an exhibition that moved to St. Petersburg the following spring. Ayear 
later, in November 1908, she, the Burliuks, and other colleagues from Venok- 
Stephanos joined with Exter, a graduate of the Kiev Art Institute, to produce an 
exhibition in Kiev that brought together young artists from Russia and Ukraine. 
Appropriately called Zveno (The Link), this exhibition was one of the first to unite 
key participants in the future avant-garde. Here, for the first time, works by 
Goncharova appeared with those of Exter. 

The Link had significance beyond the presence of these two major women 
artists; it created an important connection between the Art Nouveau— inspired 
arts-and-crafts movement in Russia (associated with Mariia Tenisheva's school in 
St. Petersburg) and the fledgling Russian and Ukrainian avant-garde. Over the 
next ten years, this early connection was to condition the association of applied- art 
and avant-garde styles. The number of women artists in The Link is remarkable: of 
a total of twenty-six artists, eleven were women. The group from St. Petersburg, led 
by Liudmila Burliuk, included Agnessa Lindeman and Erna Deters, already recog- 
nized for their Art Nouveau embroidery, and Natalia Gippius, a sculptor and one 
of the three talented sisters of the flamboyant and well-known Symbolist poet 
Zinaida Gippius. Other participants included the graphic artist Mariia Chembers 
(recently married to the artist Ivan Bilibin) and Evgenia Pribylskaia, like Exter a 
graduate of the Kiev Art Institute. Pribylskaia soon began to direct workshops in 
the Ukrainian village of Skoptsy that produced women's handwork, reviving tradi- 
tional patterns and producing new folk designs. 2 In The Link Exter showed still 
lifes, pointillist scenes of Western Europe, and embroidery, an art form in which 
she also had a strong interest. From this time on she regularly exhibited embroi- 
dery and designs for embroidery alongside her painting. In succeedingyears, she 
organized a group of women to produce abstract embroidery for avant-garde 
artists, including Sofia Karetnikova, Popova, Rozanova, and Kazimir Malevich. 3 

Both Exter and Goncharova pursued an active exhibition schedule with avant- 
garde groups in the major cities. Unlike Goncharova, who early in her career had 
personal and professional friendships with a variety of established artists, Exter 
from the first was drawn primarily to the developing avant-garde. After her gradu- 
ation from the Kiev Art Institute and subsequent marriage to Nikolai Exter, a 
prominent Kievan lawyer, she threw her energies into a life of art both at home and 



41 



six (aiiD a Few mom nissian women 



abroad. The actress Alisa Koonen describes in her memoirs how different in 
nature and appearance the two women were, Goncharova seeming very Russian, 
Exter more Western. But they were similarly militant, she notes, when the conver- 
sation turned to questions or principles of art. 4 

Exter was part of The Salon, an exhibition of Russian and Western artists that 
opened in Odessa in December 1909, moved to Kiev in February 1910, and then 
on to St. Petersburg and Riga. Although Goncharova was not initially among the 
exhibitors, she managed to be added to the show when it reached St. Petersburg. 
In the spring of 1910, both women took part in the inaugural show of the Union of 
Youth, an association of progressive artists in St. Petersburg. 5 The Union, which 
included the female artists Elena Guro, Anna Zelmanova, and, from 1911, 
Rozanova, had wide-ranging interests, following German developments 
especially. 6 The direct emotion, economy of means, and bright color of painters 
such as Erich Heckel, Ernst Kirchner, Max Pechstein, and Kees van Dongen (a 
Dutch-born artist who exhibited with Die Brucke) particularly appealed to them. 
Up until 1913, when many Russian painters began to develop styles inspired by 
Cubism and Futurism, the German painters were an important source of inspira- 
tion for this wing of the avant-garde. Both Exter and Goncharova were also repre- 
sented in the December 1910 exhibition of the Moscow Jack of Diamonds, an 
ad -hoc exhibition group organized late that year. 

Goncharova would not travel abroad until 1914, but Exter was a consummate 
traveler, and beginning in 1908 she lived abroad for months at a time. Her fre- 
quent travels between Russia and the West — Switzerland, France, Italy — provided 
subjects for the Post-Impressionist studies of the Swiss countryside and the Paris 
streets that she brought to exhibitions in Kiev and St. Petersburg. It was Exter who 
was often responsible for the Russian avant-garde's almost instantaneous infor- 
mation about the contents of the most recent Paris shows, or about the latest dis- 
cussions on Cubism. In Paris she worked at the studio of Carlo Delvall, at the 
Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, and maintained her own studio as well. She 
came to know everyone — Guillaume Apollinaire, Georges Braque, Fernand Leger, 
Pablo Picasso, Ardengo Soffici — and was readily accepted in Western exhibitions. 
During her time in Paris, Exter also met Sonia Delaunay, who moved in the same 
circles. Delaunay too had been born in Ukraine, but as a child she had been 
adopted by a wealthy aunt and uncle and was then brought up in St. Petersburg. 
After her marriage to Robert Delaunay, she maintained a household in Paris that 
was particularly welcoming to Russian and Ukrainian artists, who visited the 
Delaunays and sometimes stayed with them for lengthy periods. 

After the first Jack of Diamonds exhibition closed, in January of 1911, several 
of its organizers filed the documents necessary to incorporate the "Jack of 
Diamonds" as an official artists' organization." Goncharova and Larionovwith- 



42 



CHarLOire DOUGLas 



drew, however, sensing their lack of control of the group, and instead began plans 
for a new organization that would emphasize their particular interests, and in 
which they would clearly be the leaders. David Burliuk and Lentulov took over as 
the organizers of the Jack. Neither Goncharova, Exter, nor for that matter any other 
woman was among the signatories of the Jack's registration papers. 

Exter sent seven works to the second Jack of Diamonds exhibition, which 
opened late in January 1912. The show also included the German artist Gabriele 
Miinter and other contributors to the contemporaneous second exhibition of the 
Blaue Reiter group in Munich. In connection with the Moscow exhibition, Burliuk 
arranged evenings of lectures and debates, 8 and toward the end of the first of these, 
as audience members were participating in a discussion, Goncharova made a dra- 
matic entrance and objected loudly to the artist Nikolai Kulbin's characterization 
of her as a member of the Jack of Diamonds. In fact, she declared, she belonged to 
the "Donkey's Tail"! The audience burst into laughter. "There is no reason to laugh 
at the name. First see the exhibition when it opens — then laugh. To laugh now is 
ignorant." 9 Goncharova then gave a long disquisition on the origins of Cubism and 
its relation to primitivism, and claimed to have been the first Russian Cubist. She 
also criticized the Jack of Diamonds for artistic conservatism, excessive theorizing, 
and weakness of subject matter. A few days later she repeated her accusations in 
long letters sent to several newspapers. 

Goncharova's performance was smart publicity: a month later, when The 
Donkey's Tail group exhibited for the first time, at the Moscow Institute of 
Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, there was great anticipation. The exhibi- 
tion, a combined show with fifteen members of the Union of Youth, included some 
half a dozen women, most notably Rozanova. Goncharova was the only woman in 
The Donkey's Tail section of the show, but this was compensated for by the size of 
her contribution — she exhibited fifty- four works. 

The alliance of The Donkey's Tail and the Union of Youth brought Goncharova 
and Rozanova into many of the same exhibitions. Rozanova had sent eight works 
to the Union of Youth section of The Donkey's Tail exhibition that March, and 
Goncharova participated in The Donkey's Tail section of the Union of Youth's 
December show in St. Petersburg. Both artists contributed strong paintings, yet 
radically different ones: Goncharova was then pursuing an interest in peasant 
themes and naive art, while Rozanova's style was quick and expressive, and her 
subjects were urban. 

Goncharova and Larionov introduced Rayism (sometimes known as 
Rayonism), their new, near-abstract style of painting, at The Target exhibition in 
March 1913. Anecdotal history says that the Rayist Manifesto, though written by 
Larionov, had been instituted by Goncharova. 10 At the same time, Goncharova was 
preparing a solo exhibition, a survey of her works from the preceding ten years. 

43 




figure 4. mananne wereFKin 

[MariannaVerevkina] 

Self - Portrait 1 , 1910 

Tempera on cardboard. 51 x34 cm 

Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich 



44 



CHarLOTTe DoucLas 



Opening in fall 1913. the show presented a staggering 760 artworks in a variety of 
media and styles — oils, pastels, tempera, primitive. Rayist, Cubo- Futurist, 
Egyptian." The following spring, 250 of the works went to St. Petersburg for 
another solo show. The exhibitions were a highlight of the season, and impressive 
enough to reverse critical opinion of the avant-garde in general and Goncharova in 
particular. Goncharova, Diaghilev wrote, "has all St. Petersburg and all Moscow at 
her feet." 12 

The years 1913 to 1914 were also successful in terms of exhibitions abroad for 
Goncharova, and for Exter as well. Both had good contacts in Western Europe. Exter 
through the French, the Italians, and many Russians living in Paris. Goncharova 
through Vasily Kandinsky. Diaghilev. and, in London, the artist Boris Anrep. For 
these two years Exter led an active life divided between Russia and Western Europe, 
contributing to at least sixteen exhibitions in Kiev. Moscow. Paris. Brussels, and 
Rome. In March 1912. she was exhibiting at the Salon des Independants in Paris, 
and in October half a dozen of her works could be seen in the same city at the Section 
d 'Or exhibition at the Galerie de la Boetie. While Exter' s work was on view at the 
Salon des Independants. Goncharova was exhibiting at the Hans Goltz gallery in 
Munich, the second Blaue Reiter exhibition: that same year, she also showed in 
Berlin (at Der Sturm) and in London, in the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition. 
which opened in October at the Grafton Galleries.' 3 In April 1913. works by 
Goncharova and Marianne Werefkin (Marianna Verevkina) were shown at the Post- 
Impressionism exhibition in Budapest, and both artists, as well as Delaunay and 
Miinter. took part in the first Herbstsalon, which opened in Berlin in September. 
Exter and Delaunay appeared together at the March 1914 Salon des Independants 
show: a month later Exter and Rozanova, along with Kulbin and Ar chip enko. sent 
work to Rome for an exhibition at the Galleria Futurista. 

Such frequent exposure gave Goncharova and Exter currency as members of the 
Western art world as well as the Russian one. Most certainly, their reception abroad 
influenced their later decisions to emigrate. The younger women artists were less 
well-known in the West; in fact, with the exception of Rozanova's single entry in the 
Rome exhibition. World War I and subsequent political upheavals prevented them 
from showing their work in Western Europe for the next eight years. 

Goncharova and Exter began their careers unknown to one another: Popova and 
Udaltsova were close friends from their student days. Together with several other 
young women artists —Vera Mukhina, Vera Pestel. Liudmila Prudkovskaia 
(Udaltsova's sister), and Sofiia Karetnikova (born Til) — they now formed an 
alliance of female artists, which had its beginnings in Moscow's studio schools. 

Private studios were crucial to the history' of Russian art. For a major part of the 
future avant-garde, they were places of incubation, places where aspiring artists in 



45 



six <anr> a tew mum nissian wrimcii 



their late teens and early twenties — middle - class women in particular — not only 
got to know one another but found common purpose, supported and inspired one 
another, and developed into mature artists. Between 1905 and 1908, Udaltsova 
(her last name was then still Prudkovskaia) , her sister Liudmila, Popova, Pestel, 
and Mukhina attended the Moscow school run by the talented artist Konstantin 
Yuon and his colleague Ivan Dudin.'* (Udaltsova and Pestel arrived first, in 1905 
and 1906 respectively, and were followed in 1908 by Liudmila Prudkovskaia, 
Popova, and Mukhina.) '5 At the school Popova became a close friend of 
Prudkovskaia, and the two sometimes spent summers together. When the urbane 
Hungarian artist Karoly Kiss arrived in Moscow (from Munich, in 1909) and 
opened a studio school, Udaltsova, Pestel, and Karetnikova immediately trans- 
ferred to his tutelage.' 6 

The women were an intense and energetic group. Yuon was a great admirer 
of the Post-Impressionists, and his students were au courant. They attended 
Moscow and St. Petersburg exhibitions, read the latest journals, and studied Post- 
Impressionism as it became possible to see it in Russian exhibitions and private 
collections. They were well acquainted with Sergei Shchukin's famous collection;'? 
Udaltsova was particularly attracted to Gauguin. There is no doubt that the 
women developed together during this period, provoking and influencing one 
another. Mukhina, for example, credits Popova with deepening her basic aesthetic 
understanding: 

It was Popova, who first began to reveal to me the essence of art. Until 
then I conveyed only what I saw. But if an artist conveys only what s/he 
sees, s/he is a naturalist. One has to convey what one feels and knows. 
She made me understand that. She taught me to look at color, at the rela- 
tionship of colors in the Russian icon, for example. Everything new 
touched her. She loved to talk about a work of art. I began to see. ' 8 

Even early in their lives and careers these artists were far from untraveled 
provincial young women; while still teenagers they had been exposed to the sights 
and major museums of Western Europe. In 1904, when she was just fifteen, 
Mukhina had traveled throughout Germany; Pestel traveled to Italy and Germany 
in 1907; Udaltsova in 1908 went to Berlin and Dresden; Popova had gone with 
her family to Italy in 1910. So it is not surprising to find Yuon's former students 
assembling on their own in 1913 for the winter season in Paris. Popova, Pestel, 
Udaltsova, and Karetnikova left Moscow for Paris late in 191?. (Liudmila 
Prudkovskaia missed the trip because she was ill.) The women stayed at a pension 
run by one Madame Jeanne, where Exterwas already living.' 1 ' Their apparent free- 
dom, which may seem to us somewhat surprising, was due in part to the fact that 

46 




figure 5- Iza Burmeister with Vera Mukhina. Paris. 1912—13. 

three of the four — Udaltsova, Pestel, and Karetnikova — were by that time already 
married. 20 They were young matrons of means, and marriage afforded them a cer- 
tain independence: not only did their reputations no longer require very close 
supervision, but it was assumed that a married woman had the social protection of 
her husband. Perhaps equally important, it was common for women of propertied 
families to receive their inheritance and investment income upon their marriage. 
For the sake of propriety, as well as to help the women with domestic chores, the 
unmarried Popova brought along on the trip her former governess. Adelaida Dege. 

Popova. Karetnikova. and Udaltsova enrolled at La Palette, where Henri 
Le Fauconnier, Jean Metzinger. and Andre Dunoyer de Segonzac gave lectures and 
weekly criticism. There the artists acquired the basis of the Cubist construction 
that would mark their mature work. Strangely enough, however, they had not made 
the trip with this in mind. Udaltsova would remember, "Our intention had been to 
work with Matisse, but his school was already closed, so we went over to Maurice 
Denis's studio. But there we ran into an Indian with feathers sitting against a red 
background and we fled. Someone then told us about La Palette, the studio of 
Le Fauconnier. We went there and immediately decided that it was what we 
wanted." 2I They studied the work of Picasso. Renaissance artists at the Louvre, and 
applied art at the Musee Cluny; and they made the obligatory visit to Gertrude Stein. 

Mukhina also came to Paris at this time, and studied sculpture with Emile- 
Antoine Bourdelle at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. 22 Under Popova's 
influence she took time from her sculpting at Bourdelle's to learn Cubist drawing 
at La Palette: "Popova talked a lot about the Cubists, praised them, and grew quite 
excited. Behind it you could feel something great. I was bothered by the question, 
whence and why? Why do people think in a certain way?" - 3 In the spring of 1913. 
Popova and Udaltsova returned to Moscow: but first Popova and Mukhina made a 
brief trip to Palus, in Brittany, to take advantage of Madame Jeanne's summer 
accommodations. They were accompanied by Boris Ternovets — another resident 
of Madame Jeanne's, and Mukhina's fellow student at Bourdelle's. 2 + 

Udaltsova would not return to Paris. Her mother died in September 1913. and 
she was left with the care of her younger sisters, including Liudmila, who was by 



4: 




figure 6. naTaLia GoncHarova 

Curtain design for LeCoqd 'Or, 1914 
Watereolor on paper, 53.3x73.7 cm 



that time seriously ill. Popova, however, was back in Paris by mid-April the next 
year, to join Mukhina and sculptor Iza Burmeister on a tour of France and Italy. 2 5 
The three women traveled to Nice. Menton, Genoa, Naples, Paestum, Florence, 
and Venice, and spent two weeks in Rome, everywhere sketching, painting, and 
exploring Gothic and Renaissance architecture. 

While they were away, Goncharova arrived in Paris to attend the gala opening 
of LeCoqcTOr at the Opera. It was her first time in the city, and the spectacular sets 
and costumes she had created for this ballet -opera were a dazzling success. They 
were her first theater designs; the commission had been a direct result of her 
ambitious 1913 retrospective. Within a month after the opening oiLeCoq d Or, an 
exhibition of more than fifty of Goncharova's paintings, along with a smaller num- 
ber of works by Larionov, opened at the Galerie PaulGuillaume.- 6 Apollinaire, in 
his catalogue essay, called her art "a revelation of the marvelous decorative free- 
dom that has never ceased to guide Oriental painters amid their sumptuous trea- 
sure of forms and colors. " 2 " Apparently Goncharova chose not to go to London with 
the company to attend the English premiere at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. 28 
At the outbreak of the war, she and Larionov were taking a holiday, and her boldly 
orchestrated move into the Western art world was cut short by their hasty depar- 
ture for home. 

The wartime isolation of Russian artists had an enormous effect on avant- 
garde art there; now denied any possibility of travel and any firsthand knowledge of 
Western art activities, their aesthetic lives seemed to concentrate and intensify. 
During the disastrous military campaigns of 1915 and 1916, women made signifi- 
cant innovations in artistic style and character. With the exception of Goncharova, 
who suddenly left for Switzerland in response to a summons from Diaghilev, and 
Stepanova, who had not yet penetrated avant-garde artistic life in Moscow, the 
women showed together for the first time in the Tramway F exhibition, which 
opened in Petrograd early March 1915. Exter, Popova, Rozanova, and Udaltsova 
exhibited their very personal varieties of Cubo- Futurist work. The following 



48 



CHarLOTTe DOUGLas 




figure i- Olga Rozanova, Ksenia 
Boguslavskaia, and KazimirMalevich 
seated in front of Malevich's 
Suprematist paintings at the o.w 
exhibition, Petrograd, 1915. 



December, Pestel, Popova, Rozanova, and Udaltsova were four of the six women in 
the historic o.w exhibition in Petrograd, and in February, Exter, Pestel, Popova, 
and Udaltsova were shown in the storefront space of The Store in Moscow. Surely a 
habitual gallery-goer, by this time, might mistakenly have consolidated them into 
a female "group." a 9 

World War I was an impetus to work in applied art. Rural villages were hit 
extremely hard by the war, and women attempted to lessen the burden through the 
production and sale of handwork. At the same time, the design of fabric by profes- 
sional artists also increased. In November of 1915, when the Exhibition of 
Contemporary Decorative Art opened at the Lemercier Gallery in Moscow, it showed 
forty items designed by Exter; embroidery by Ksenia Boguslavskaia; embroidered 
pillows and scarves by Boguslavskaia's husband, Ivan Puni; four handbags and 
eleven designs for embroidery and other items by Georgii Yakulov (who may have 
been inspired to take up this work by his prolonged visit with the Delaunays in 
Paris two years previously, just when Sonia was working on her Simultanist cloth- 
ing); and handwork by Natalia Mikhailovna Davydova and Evgenia Pribylskaia. 
Malevich contributed designs for two scarves and a pillow. Most of the needlework 
was done by the women from Skoptsy and Verbovka. 

At the Exhibition of Industrial Art in Moscow in late 1915— early 1916, avant- 
garde designs appeared together with the Symbolist and Style Moderne work of 
the Abramtsevo and Talashkino art colonies. These included Art Nouveau fabric 
designs by Lindeman and others; Abramtsevo's Art Nouveau and neo-folk dishes, 
vases, and ceramic mythological creatures; and dress designs, pillows, lamp- 
shades, handbags, and decorative applique by Pribylskaia, Exter, and 
Boguslavskaia. The catalogue points out the artists' ambitious plans to produce 
wallpaper, printed textiles, and book endpapers. 

In Russia, 1916 was a difficult year, and the means for producing cloth became 
increasingly unavailable. Handwork was still possible, however, and throughout 
1916 and 1917 the avant-garde continued to create designs for needlecraft. 



49 




figure 8. Act I of Romeo and Juliet, 
Chamber Theater, Moscow, 1951, with sets 
and costumes designed by Alexandra Exter. 



Hundreds of handwork designs appeared in 1916, produced by virtually every 
member of the avant-garde. Several major exhibitions included this work. After 
the 0.10 show closed at the beginning of the year, Davydova, Pestel, Popova, 
Rozanova, and Udaltsova joined Malevich in an attempt to propagate Suprematism 
through a journal they called Supremus. This periodical was never published, 
falling victim to the war and finally to the February Revolution, but a section on 
applied Suprematism was planned for it, and here the women intended to publish 
designs featuring embroidered Suprematist logos. 

In winter 1917, Davydova organized the Second Exhibition of Decorative Arts of 
the Verbovka group. It opened at the Mikhailova Art Salon in central Moscow on 
December 6 in the midst of massive strikes and demonstrations and stringent 
rationing of bread. The artists from the earlier Verbovka show were now joined by 
the new Suprematists Pestel, Popova, Rozanova, and Udaltsova. The sewing was 
done by the village women. Of the four hundred items shown, many of the fabric 
designs were based on the visual vocabulary developed in the Supremus Society, 
being translated from painting or collage. This exhibition was followed by the 
Contemporary Art show, which opened before the end of the year with an entire 
section of embroidery, and by the Decorative -Industrial Exhibition, which included 
porcelain and embroidered items. The Verbovka group made another appearance 
in Moscow in 1919 at a joint exhibition of the Free Art Workshops (Svomas) and 
several other applied-art organizations, showing avant-garde fabric decorations, 
pillows, scarves, and handbags. 

During World War I the Russian theater was a malleable refuge from the real 
world, which, as the German offensive intensified, became increasingly depress- 
ing and deadly. In the progressive theater, two great directors, Alexander Tairov 
and Vsevolod Meierkhold, supplied competing aesthetics and objectives, and in 
1915 and 1916 — the darkest years of the war — the work of Exter, Goncharova, 
Mukhina, and Popova contributed much to Tairov's brilliant new Chamber Theater 



5° 




figure 9. LIUBOV POPOVa 
Romeo in a Mask, costume design for 
Romeo and Juliet, ca. 1920 
Gouache on paper, 38.5x81.5 cm 
Private collection, Moscow 



in Moscow. Though relatively small, the theater offered an opportunity to create 
environments out of costumes, sets, and lighting; and at a time when war and revo- 
lution were creating great privation, it gave major scope to the artists' vision. 

Theater continued to be a major site of artistic innovation into the 1920s. At a 
time when the avant-garde no longer saw painting alone as a viable artistic option, 
theater afforded a way to communicate directly with a new "democratic" audience 
on topics of immediate social relevance. At the same time, it offered artists a wide 
scope for invention. Between 1917 and 1934, Exter, Goncharova, Popova, Mukhina, 
and Stepanova produced hundreds of designs for theatrical costumes and sets. Not 
all the projects were realized, of course, and when a production was proposed, it 
was not always clear from the beginning who would be the chosen artist. Both Exter 
and Popova worked extensively on Romeo and Juliet for the Chamber Theater; and 
while Stepanova designed The Death ofTarelkin for Meierkhold's studio, Exter 
designed the same play for the studio of the Moscow Art Theater. The artists worked 
in close partnership with singers, actors, dancers, and directors, and in the result- 
ing productions the visual element assumed a prominent, often primary role. 

Exter returned to Moscow from ayear-and-a-half-long interlude in Kiev dur- 
ing fall 1920, and to the shock of many she married again. Georgii Nekrasov was a 
minor actor four years her senior; old friends considered him beneath her station 
in life, and added responsibility for her in a difficult time. But Nekrasov proved a 
faithful mate, supportive of her art, and helpful in practical ways. For the Chamber 
Theater, Exter took up a project she had dropped three years earlier: decor for 
Romeo and Juliet, which she had last worked on in the less complicated days of the 
summer of 1917. Popova too began to develop ideas for the play, both women 



5 1 



six (and a few more) russian women 



responding to Tairov"s interpretation of Shakespeare's tragedy in purely theatrical 
terms, as the clash of ancient elemental forces, rather than as a historically based 
psychological drama. Indeed, Tairovhad cautioned against too much verisimili- 
tude . The characters don't have to be young or old, he said; "women can substitute 
for men, and vice versa." 3o The two sets of designs, though very different from one 
another, suggest that the two women were well aware of each other's sketches and 
developed ideas back and forth in competition. 

It was Exter's designs that were produced. On May 17, 1921, the curtain rose 
on Romeo and Juliet to reveal an elaborate Italianate decor (see fig. 8); while making 
no detailed reference to any specific period or place, the artist hoped to convey a 
feeling she remembered from her visits to Venice and Florence. Popova's water- 
colors for Romeo and Juliet show similar scrolling, but the space is more clearly 
articulated; where Exter's designs are colorful and exuberant, Popova's are precise 
and restrained. Exter's figures are the result of her work on rhythm and motion 
with Bronislava Nijinska and Tairov, Popova's are reminiscent of her Cubo- 
Futurist painting of 1915 and 1916 (see fig. 9). Exter's set became an active player 
in the plot of the play, as Popova's schematic and revolving construction would be 
the next year for Meierkhold's production of Fernand Crommelynck's The 
Magnanimous Cuckold in 1933. 

Stepanova too would work in the theater. The youngest of the six women, she 
was also unlike most of them in that she came from a working-class background-, 
while she was growing up, her mother had worked as a maid. After marrying 
Dmitrii Fedorov, a young architect, Stepanova had spent three years at the very 
reputable Kazan art school. Here she began to write poetry, work as an artist, and 
exhibit. In the spring of 1914 she returned to Moscow, without finishing her art 
education, and began to support herself by working as a seamstress, typist, and 
bookkeeper in a hardware store. At the same time, she continued to study art. at 
the Yuon/Dudin school and at the school of Mikhail Leblan. In 1916, having left her 
husband, she began to live with Alexander Rodchenko, a similarly impoverished 
young artist with whom she had fallen in love at the Kazan art school. They would 
remain a couple for the rest of their lives. 

Even after moving to Moscow, Stepanova drew and wrote in an Art Nouveau 
style influenced by English artist Aubrey Beardsley. She was introduced to avant- 
garde art only in 1916, but she progressed quickly; her works on paper from 1917 
and 1918 might be considered a last bright spark of Russian Cubo- Futurism. She 
also began to write "transrational" or "non- objective" poetry, and to produce some 
of the most delightful and successful, and at the same time radical and abstract, 
artist's books. Her move into book graphics followed the path of Sonia Delaunay 
and Rozanova, but her work is distinctive in its own right. 

The October Revolution did away with the private shops and offices in which 



5? 



CHarLorre DouGLas 



Stepanova had made her living, but the various art institutions established by the 
Soviet government provided her with a new means of livelihood. Soon after the 
Revolution, she took on administrative duties as a deputy director of the Literature 
and Art Subsection of IZO Narkompros. At the same time, she served on the 
Presidium for the Visual Arts of the artists' professional union, Rabis. Between 
1930 and 1935 her position on the arts faculty at the Academy for Social Education 
gave her an opportunity to work out her artistic ideas with students. When Inkhuk 
was formed, in 1920, she was one of its founding members, and served as academic 
secretary during its organizational phase. 

Popova, Stepanova, and Udaltsova took leading roles in the Inkhuk discussions 
of the social significance, purpose, and "laws" of art. The two-part^o^ = 25 exhibi- 
tion in September and October 1931 demonstrated their conclusions. The exhibi- 
tion's title was indicative: on one level it meant that five artists — Exter, Popova, 
Stepanova, Alexander Vesnin, and Rodchenko — contributed five works for each 
show, but the mathematical equation also gave notice of practical aims. These 
shows were to be the artists' concluding statements in painting and graphics; they 
were meant to be mined for their utilitarian ideas. 

Udaltsova did not take part; she had given birth to a son just weeks earlier. 3 ' 
There was also another reason, however: she strongly disagreed with the 
Constructivists' resolution to abandon easel painting in favor of more practical art 
forms. In fact, Udaltsova and artist Andrei Drevin left Inkhuk and spent the next 
years painting in a productive new style, in search of a way out of the formal and 
theoretical dead end that seemed to them inherent in Constructivism. 

After the defining 5" a; 5 = 25 exhibitions, Exter, Popova, and Stepanova began to 
expand Constructivist principles onto the stage. This move coincided with the cul- 
mination of the avant-garde's withdrawal from psychologically oriented theater 
influenced by the introduction, by Meierkhold and others, of techniques borrowed 
from the circus, vaudeville, popular reviews, and film. Meierkhold and sympa- 
thetic critics defended the new theater as a move away from the elitism of the pre- 
Revolutionary stage, an appeal to the public through genuinely democratic forms. 

The close relationship between Popova and Stepanova was cemented by the 
work both did for Meierkhold's theater. Their productions played in close proxim- 
ity. Popova's set for The Magnanimous Cuckold, with its slides and ladders, revolv- 
ing doors and large rotating wheels, made its debut at Meierkhold's Free Studio at 
the State Higher Theatrical Workshops on April 25, 1922. The collapsing furniture 
and turning human "meat grinder" that Stepanova invented for The Death of 
Tarelkin appeared on November 24, at the GITIS Theater; and from November 28 
to December 3, 1922, the two productions played alternate evenings in a double 
bill. Both Popova and Stepanova were listed as "constructors" of their respective 
creations. 



53 




figure io. vera icnaTievna muKHina 

The Worker and the Collective Farm Woman, 1987 
Stainless steel, 24 meters high 

Goncharova had left Russia during the war, well before the Revolution, and did 
not return when she might have. Exter remained in Russia while her mother was 
still alive, and while she could eke out a living; she prudently left for Paris in 1924, 
when the nature of the Soviet regime, her art, and her origins put her in jeopardy. 
In Western Europe the careers of both women ultimately foundered. Karetnikova, 
Pestel, Popova, Rozanova, Stepanova, Udaltsova at first threw themselves into 
artistic work under the stringent conditions of the Revolution and the Russian 
Civil War, but with varying results. Rozanova and Popova died in 1918 and 1934 
respectively, of diseases brought on by war, revolution, and the collapse of the 
country's infrastructure. Udaltsova survived, but her father did not; he was shot by 
revolutionary functionaries in September 1918. Her sister, Liudmila, died three 
weeks later, the result of her long illness; and Udaltsova's husband, Drevin was 
executed in 1938 as an "enemy of the people." 

As the 1930s proceeded, the post- Revolutionary avant-garde gradually lost its 
ascendancy, first falling victim to the political fundamentalism of younger artists 
and their own ready abandonment of fine art. By the late 1930s and early 1930s, 
economic and political pressures and physical threat did away with almost all inno- 
vation in the arts. In the end, women were exposed to the same random and harsh 
fates of so many at the time. In the late 1930s and early '3os Stepanova did pho- 
tomontage for books and journals extolling the state. During the Stalinist terror 
she turned to painting landscapes and still lifes. She and Udaltsova lived quietly in 



54 



CHarLOTTe DOUGLas 



Russia, publicly playing down their involvement with the avant-garde and keeping 
their thoughts to themselves and their intimates. Of the other women mentioned 
in this essay. Mukhina was recognized by the regime for her sculpture The Worker 
and Collective Farm Woman, which stood atop the U.S.S.R. Pavilion at the Paris 
World's Fair in 1987, but she and her son were briefly arrested, and her husband. 
Alexei Zamkov. a physician, was imprisoned and exiled. Karetnikova was arrested 
in the 1930s and sent to Siberia; her husband and son were also arrested and died 
in captivity. When she heard about the death of her son. Karetnikova committed 
suicide. 

Is Russian art history, as seen from the point of view suggested by the lives and 
practices of these women artists, sharply different from the male experience? Not 
very. They participated in the same historic exhibitions, sought the same kinds 
of success. Perhaps greater weight should be given to their work in stage design: 
Exter. Goncharova. Popova. and Stepanova are all responsible for notable innova- 
tions in the theater. And textile design plays a greater role in their artistic profiles 
than in the male paradigm. Collectively, they had more experience in Western 
Europe than the men in the movement, although it is clear that their greatest 
opportunities came at home, during World War I and the Russian Civil War. While 
friendly with one another to varying degrees, they could also be bitterly competi- 
tive — a circumstance in which they are also no different from their male counter- 
parts. In fact, if we now see these women as belonging to a different category from 
the men, it is because we are accustomed to seeing male artists as the norm, and 
women as somehow deviant from it. There is some evidence that the same attitude 
initially held true in regard to the women themselves, but such comments became 
rarer with time, as society was inundated by war and revolution. Perhaps, as they 
wished, we should simply consider them superb artists. 

1. The letters and diaries of various Russian women artists have now been published, usually bv 
their families. Most of the published versions have omissions and ellipses, however, and are 
generally not forthright about the basis of such exclusions. After 1991. there was little reason to 
omit the artists' expressions of their political sentiments, but Russians are still apt to be reticent 
about publishing anything of a personal or sexual nature, or political views that might be embar- 
rassing to families or living persons. 

2. After the Russian Revolution. Evgenia Pribvlskaia would organize the crafts section of the 1 925 
Exposition Internationale desArts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes. in Paris. 

3. On embroidery and the Russian avant-garde, see Charlotte Douglas. "Suprematist Embroidered 
Ornament. " Art Journal (New York) 34. no. 1 (April 1995). pp. 42-45. 

4. Alisa Koonen. Stmnitsr zhizni (Moscow: Iskusstvo. 1975). p. 225. 

5. The show included a number of other women, among them Mariia Chembers. Elizaveta 
Kruglikova. Anna Ostrumova-Lebedeva. and Marianne Werefkin. Non- Russian women included 
Marie Laurencin. Gabriele Miinter. and Maroussia (Lentovska). 



55 



six (anD a Few more) russian women 



6. Elena Genrikhovna Guro (1877—1913) was a writer, poet, and painter; she died at an early age, of 
leukemia. Anna Zelmanova exhibited extensively in Russia before the Revolution, then later lived 
in the United States. She died in 1948. 

7. G. G. Pospelov, "Stranitsa istorii 'Moskovskoi zhivopisi,'" Iz istorii russkogo iskusstva vtoroi 
polovinyXIX-nachaloXXveka (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1978), p. 92. 

8. David Burliuk spoke on "Cubism and Other New Directions in Painting," and Nikolai Kulbin on 
"Free Art as the Basis of Life." 

9. Benedikt Livshits, Polutoraglazyi strelets: stikhotvoreniia. perevody, vospominaniia (Leningrad: 
Sovetskii pisatel, 1989), p. 363. 

10. Mikhail Larionov himself did not inspire confidence about his work. Composer Igor Stravinsky, 
who knew the couple well, said of Larionov, "He made a vocation of laziness, like Oblomov, and 
we always believed that his wife did his work for him." Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft, 
Conversations with Igor Stravinsky (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 
1980), p. 99. 

11. The exhibition was held in the Art Salon at 11 Bolshaia Dmitrovka, Moscow. 

12. Sergei Diaghilev, quoted in Mary Chamot, "The Early Work of Go ncharova and Larionov," 
Burlington Magazine (London), June 1955, p. 172. 

i3. Goncharova sent three major works to the "Second Post -Impressionist Exhibition": The 
Evangelists, A Street in. Moscow, and Tlie Grape Harvest. 

14. Vera Mukhina also worked in the studio run by the sculptor Nina Sinitsyna. KonstantinYuonwas 
a member of the Union of Russian Artists and active in the Society of Free Aesthetics. He and 
Ivan Dudin opened their studio for classes in 1900. 

15. The women were at Yuon's in the followingyears: Nadezhda Udaltsova 1905-08, Vera Pestel 
1906—07, LiubovPopova and Liudmila Prudkovskaia 1908—09, Mukhina 1908-11. 

16. Karoly Kiss was born in Arad (now Romania) on October 24, i883; he died in Nagybnya (now Baia 
Mare, Romania) on May 3o, 1953. He studied at Nagybnya, Munich, and Budapest, and his name 
is listed among students at the Nagybnya free school for 1902 and 1903. In 1904 he was among 
Hollosy's students in Munich. During World War I, Kiss was interned in Moscow for four years as 
an enemy alien. After returning home, he withdrew to Vilgos, near Arad, and in 1931 he settled at 
the artist's colony in Nagybnya. See Jeno Muradin. Nagybnya.- A festotelep miiveszei (Miskolc, 
Hungary, 1994). The author thanks Katalin Keseru and Oliver Botar for pointing out this infor- 
mation. 

17. Sergei Shchukin, a Moscow industrialist, was collector of an extraordinary number of works by 
Gauguin, Matisse, and Picasso, among others, before World War I. His collection now forms the 
core of the Post- Impressionist holdings of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Pushkin 
Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. He opened his mansion to local artists and students for study 
on Sundays. 

18. Mukhina, quoted in OlgaVoronova, "Umolchaniia, iskazheniia, oshibki. KbiografiiV. I. 
Mukhinoi." Iskusstvo (Moscow), no. 11 (1989), p. 20. 

19. Madame Jeanne catered to her Russian clientele by serving Russian food. 

20. Udaltsova had been married in October 1908, to Alexander Udaltsov. 

21. Udaltsova, "Moi vospominaniia. Moiakhudozhestvennia zhizn," inEkaterina Drevina andVasilii 
Rakitin, Nadezhda Udaltsova.- Zhizn ru.sskoi kubistki. Dnevniki. stati. vospominaniia (Moscow: RA, 
1994), p. 10. 

22. Other young women from Moscow at Emile-Antoine Bourdelle's school included Iza Burmeister, 
Sofia Rozental, and Nadezhda Krandievskaia. On the many Russian students at Bourdelle's see 



56 



CHarLOTTe DoucLas 



Alexandra Shatskikh, "Russkie ucheniki Burdelia," in Sovetskaia skulptura (Moscow), no. 10 
(1986): 311-34. 

23. Mukhina, quoted inVoronova, "Umolehaniia. iskazheniia, oshibki: KbiografiiV. I. Mukhinoi," 
p. 19. 

24. The trip was made in May. Boris Ternovets was a young sculptor from Moscow; after the 
Revolution he became the director of the Museum of the New Western Art. He had moved to Paris 
in February, from Munich, where he had been a student of Simon Hollosy. See L. Aleshina and 
NinaYavorkaia, eds., B. N.TernovetS: Pisma. Dnevniki. Stan (Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhmk, 1977), 
p. 58. 

25. Iza Burmeister, also from Moscow, was a sculptor and friend of Mukhina at Bourdelle's. They 
remained in Paris after Udaltsova and Popova returned to Moscow. 

26. Le Coq d'OrpTemiered on May 24, 1914. The exhibition was open from June 17 — 80. 

27. Guillaume Apollinaire, quoted in Leroy C. Bruenig, ed.,ApollinaireonArt /pos-rp/S (New York: 
Viking, 1972), p. 4i3. 

28. The premiere was on 15 June, 1914. 

29. Other women in The Store show were Sofia Tolstaia (later Dymshits-Tolstaia) and Marie Vassilieff 
(Vasileva). 

30. Alexander Tairov, quoted in Georgii K.OYalenko.AlexandraBxteriMoscov/: Galart, 1993), from 
Pavel Markov, ed.,A. Tairov, Zapiskirezhissera: Stati. Besedr. Bechi. Pisma (Moscow: VTO. 1970), 
pp. 287-88. 

3i. Udaltsova's and Alexander Drevin's son Andrei was born on August 26, 1921. 



57 




figure 11. Anonymous 18th- century artist, Empress Catherine II of Russia- 
Oil on canvas, 85.8 x 68 cm 
Portraitgalerie. Schloss Ambras, Innsbruck, Austria 



BeTween old anD new : 
russia's moDern women 



Laura eriGeLSTein 



The artists featured in this exhibition came of age in turn- of- the- century imperial 
Russia. When, in 1917, the autocracy collapsed under the strain of war and social 
unrest, they had already launched important artistic careers. How surprising, it 
would seem, for an old regime that clung to the values and public institutions of a 
preindustrial time, inhibiting both the free expression of ideas and the free activ- 
ity of its subjects, to have presided over the emergence of a vital modernist culture. 
Even more surprising, perhaps, that women, in such circumstances, should have 
played so prominent a role in the production of artistic modernity. Yet Russian 
women in some ways benefited from the mixture of traditionalism and innovation 
that characterized the old order in its encounter with the modern world. 

Peter the Great (r. 1683—1735) was not the first Russian ruler to appropriate 
elements of European culture and statecraft to enhance the power and welfare of 
the realm. Yet Russians came to associate his dramatic program of state -driven 
cultural change with the onset of the modern age. When Peter "opened the window 
to Europe," in Alexander Pushkin's phrase, the emperor inaugurated a new era for 
women as well. Court ladies, he declared, were to begin appearing in public along- 
side their men. 1 Rejecting tradition, even in the matter of succession. Peter had his 
wife Catherine crowned empress. Whether he intended her to rule in her own right 
was unclear, but after his death she occupied the throne for two years, and female 
monarchs ruled Russia for most of the rest of the eighteenth century, culminating 
in the reign of Catherine the Great (r. 1763—1796), who rose to power by conniving 



59 



russia'S muiiern women 



in the murder of her husband, Peter III (r. 1763). Among her other notable actions, 
she appointed a woman as president of the Russian Academy of Sciences and was 
herself the first patron of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts after its official 
incorporation in 1764. 

Paul I (r. 1796—1801), Catherine's resentful son, changed the law of succession 
to exclude women. The monarchs who followed him invented a new traditionalism, 
asserting their masculinity on the parade ground and advertising their devotion to 
family life.- High-born ladies continued, however, to play a role in court politics. 
The Tver salon of Ekaterina Pavlovna (1788—1818), the sister of Alexander I 
(r. 1801—1835), attracted the leading conservatives of the period. In the opposite 
political direction, the forward-looking bureaucrats who shaped the Emancipation 
and Great Reforms of the 1860s discussed their plans in the drawing room of 
Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna (1807—1873), a woman of culture, intellect, and 
wide- ranging interests, who used her fortune to sponsor artists, scholars, and 
intellectuals, as well as contributing to policy debates. 3 Such figures were an 
exceptional handful even within the country's tiny educated elite, which comprised 
less than 3 percent of a population of 135 million at century's end. Ordinary women 
were restricted in their public roles by convention, limited education, and exclu- 
sion from civil service. 

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the vast majority of Russians still 
lived in the countryside, where patriarchy was the backbone of communal life. 
Households and villages were run by senior males. Compared to peasant wives 
and daughters, husbands and sons had greater mobility and wider access to urban 
life, schools, and other avenues of cultural improvement. Among the peasantry, 
29 percent of men could read, against a mere 10 percent of women. Ry 1913, only 
31 percent of the somewhat better- off female factory workers were literate. 4 It is 
not surprising, then, that critics of the regime cited the peasant woman's lot as the 
emblem of all that was unjust and outmoded about the traditional social order. 

The theme of women's oppression had a pedigree dating back to the genera- 
tion of the 184,0s, when philosopher Alexander Herzen (1813—1870) wrote elo- 
quently of the damage inflicted on the privileged as well as the dispossessed by the 
operation of absolute power. He, and later Nikolai Chernyshevsky (1828—1889), 
used the theme of women's subordination to symbolize the problem of hierarchy 
and domination in the polity at large. Rejecting patriarchal mores and bourgeois 
moralism alike, they advocated equality of the sexes and freedom of sexual expres- 
sion as intrinsic to the project of social transformation. In the 1860s, the genera- 
tion that came of age after the Great Reforms proudly rejected established values in 
the name of science and social change. Young women cropped their hair, wore dark 
clothing, and spent their time reading — preferably philosophical tomes. Some 
followed the lead of Vera Pavlovna, the heroine of Chernyshevsky's novel What Is to 

60 



I aur.i i-ni.cl s icm 



Be Done? (i863), entering marriages of intellectual convenience or menages a trois 
and running workshops for lower-class women. Advocacy of women's rights 
became a hallmark of the emergent intelligentsia. 5 

These attitudes evolved into the fervent Populism of the 1870s, as educated 
young people, including numerous women, dispersed to the villages, preaching 
popular self-liberation. When the resolutely patriarchal common folk spurned all 
talk of revolution, the radicals resorted to violent means. Vera Zasulich 
(1849—1919) achieved celebrity by shooting a public official for having mistreated 
a political prisoner. Acquitted by a jury in 1878, Zasulich was applauded as a symbol 
of resistance to oppression. Among those involved in the assassination of 
Alexander II (r. 1855—1881), Sofia Perovskaia (1853—1881), a general's daughter, 
became the first woman executed for a political crime. 6 

As the Populists tried unsuccessfully to mobilize a popular following, the vil- 
lage life they wanted to preserve was increasingly threatened by industrial devel- 
opment, the growth of cities, and cultural change. Market forces created new 
opportunities for peasant women but also eroded their moral stature. While some 
found work in textile mills or as domestic servants, others trafficked in abandoned 
babies or in their own bodies, to the distress of Populists and moral reformers 
alike.' By the 1890s an exploited working class had joined the impoverished peas- 
antry at the bottom of the social pyramid. In this context, nostalgic agrarianism 
seemed increasingly out-of-date. Embracing capitalism as a necessary stage on the 
way to socialist revolution, Marxists displaced Populists in the ideological ranks. 
The campaign for class justice now left little room for the cause of sexual equality. 

The woman's issue had never been the monopoly of radicals and young people, 
however. Calls for women's education, professional opportunity, and civil rights 
came from a range of figures in state service, high society, and the cultural elite. 
In the wake of the Crimean War (1854—1856), the educator and physician Nikolai 
Pirogov (1810—1881) endorsed the training of women as nurses. In the 1870s, the 
Ministry of War, under Dmitrii Miliutin (1816-1913). admitted women to its med- 
ical academy. Post- Reform doctors and lawyers went to the countryside not to stir 
revolt but to serve in the newly instituted local courts or work for the newly created 
organs of rural self- administration (the zemstvos) . They bemoaned the abuse of 
peasant wives at their husbands' hands and decried the laws that made divorce and 
even legal separation difficult to obtain. Eager to transform the autocracy into a 
modern regime through incremental change, jurists pressed for the liberalization 
of divorce and women's inheritance rights. 8 

Yet for all the public's litany of complaints, and despite the turbulent forces 
unleashed by the regime's own program of economic advancement, the tsars 
remained staunchly conservative. Both Alexander III (r. 1881-1894) and Nicholas 
II (r. 1894-1917) turned to the pre-Petrine age for myths of old-style autocratic 

61 




figure 12. Zinaida Ivanova. Vera Mukhina. and 
Alexandra Exterat Fontenay-aux-Roses. France, 1937. 



rule, while the use of domestic life as an emblem of public virtue reached its 
incongruous apogee in the Victorian idyll of Nicholas and Alexandra (1873—1918) , 
even as the autocracy entered its final decline.? Yet while the monarchs clung to 
symbols of tradition and resisted political change, preferring, for example, to 
sponsor the canonization of saints than grant religious toleration, the cultural 
atmosphere was alive with innovation — in music, theater, poetry, prose, the 
applied and fine arts, and the new technology of cinema. 

The six artists in this exhibition are products of this contradictory time. 
They represent a single generation and belong to roughly the same social milieu. 
Five (save Varvara Stepanova) were born in the 1880s, none into impoverished 
families. The girls all started life in the provinces and, having learned their craft 
in the art schools of Moscow, St. Petersburg. Kiev, and Kazan, pursued their 
careers in Moscow. Alexandra Exter, Liubov Popova, Nadezhda Udaltsova, and 
Natalia Goncharova had been to Europe before 1914. Three of the six women 
married fellow artists, with whom they sometimes collaborated. For all of them, 
the crucial years were those that spanned the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. The 



6a 



[.aura enceLSTem 



group's fate neatly illustrates the possible consequences of the Bolshevik victory. 
Exter and Goncharova emigrated; the others remained — Rozanova and Popova 
quickly succumbing to illness, and Stepanova and Udaltsova surviving into the 
Khrushchev years. 

For purposes of framing this generation, then, we must investigate their for- 
mative experiences both culturally and in terms of their career opportunities as 
women. What were women doing on behalf of their sex? What were they, simply, 
doing? What models of self -fashioning did they encounter? If the "new people" 
of the 1860s created a style for the radical bluestocking of mid- century, what was 
the prototype for the so-called New Woman of the 1910s, a figure as noticeable on 
Russian city streets as she was in Berlin or London? 

In nineteenth- century Europe and the United States women were excluded 
from political life. In Russia before the 1905 revolution, the only elections were 
local; the few qualified women voted by male proxy. After 1905, the czar created a 
national assembly (the Duma) based on a restricted male franchise. But despite 
the limited role for women in public affairs, they managed to exercise their social, 
intellectual, and creative ingenuity. Their activities can be divided into three 
spheres: social causes; education and the professions; and culture. 

Women were prominent in philanthropy, not because charity was seen as a 
peculiarly feminine concern, but because Orthodox Christian values infused 
public life, and despite its firm patriarchalism, the Church allowed considerable 
latitude for female spiritual initiative. With its sanction, women had begun found- 
ing their own religious communities in the late eighteenth century, and by 1917 
there were more than two hundred, with members from every social rank. 
Founders of high station used their wealth and contacts in pursuing spiritual goals, 
but some of humbler stock rose to leadership on the strength of moral dedication. 
Typically, the communities performed a number of charitable services, such as 
sheltering orphans, caring for elderly women, running schools for girls, hospitals, 
and handicraft workshops. Their leaders were venerated for their devotion to spir- 
itual ideals, but they were also resourceful entrepreneurs, skilled in the politics of 
patronage. 10 

Private charity remained an important sphere of public activity, because the 
state did not assume the burden of poor relief or social welfare. The imperial 
womenfolk set the example. To aid the victims of the war against Napoleon, 
Alexander I's wife Elizabeth (1779-1826) founded the Women's Patriotic Society, 
which went on to provide schooling for girls. Even Nicholas I (r. 1825-1855), 
suspicious of any independent social activity, tolerated philanthropic enterprises, 
to which his own mother, Maria Fedorovna, lent her support. "Founding a 
charitable association," writes historian Adele Lindenmeyr, "became virtually part 
of the job description for the wives of high-ranking state officials." " Even after the 

63 



russias moDern women 



Great Reforms, elite women continued to focus on charity and social improve- 
ment. Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, for example, founded a semireligious 
nursing community during the Crimean War. After her husband was assassinated 
in 1905, Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fedorovna (1864— 1918), the tsarina's sister 
(later murdered along with the imperial family), devoted herself to religious life 
and founded a charitable order for women. Less exalted women helped establish 
lying-in hospitals and sponsored the training of midwives. The Church had always 
promoted almsgiving, but industrial poverty demanded a more systematic 
response, such as the guardianships of the poorthat flourished in the 1890s. But 
even when philanthropy became relatively depersonalized, women continued to 
participate in charitable projects and institutions. 12 

It was one thing for society matrons and industrialists' wives to volunteer their 
time and efforts; to enter the professions, however, women needed access to 
higher education. In the 1860s, liberals such as Konstantin Kavelin (1818—1885) 
and Mikhail Stasiulevich (1836—1911) urged admitting women to the universities, 
but the Ministry of Education kept them out. Women seeking specialized medical 
training went to Europe instead. Sofia Kovalevskaia (1850— 1891), the first woman 
to receive a doctorate in mathematics, studied abroad. Inthe 1870s, Russian med- 
ical institutes began admitting women; though excluded again from 188a to 1897, 
women continued to flock to the profession. 13 

Although women were allowed only briefly, between 1906 and 1908, to attend 
university on an equal basis with men, they were able to study in special advanced 
courses first offered to women in the 1870s, on the urging of the feminist 
Nadezhda Stasova (1832—1897) and others, by distinguished professors in Moscow 
and St. Petersburg. 1 * By 1910. similar courses had been created in ten other cities, 
and in 1911 female graduates in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and Kazan were 
allowed to sit for state examinations. By 1914, women constituted 3o percent of 
students in institutions of higher learning, which, however, enrolled well under 
1 percent of the population. In these rarefied ranks, women made considerable 
progress. In 1894. the Russian Academy of Sciences elected Countess Praskovia 
Uvarova (1840—1934), an archaeologist, as its first woman member. About 40 
percent of the very small number of people (4 percent of the urban labor force) 
listed as professionals and semiprofessionals in the 1902 Moscow city census were 
women. By 1910, they constituted about 7 percent of physicians and 10 percent of 
pharmacists. By 1906. St. Petersburg could boast two female-owned pharmacies, 
one sponsored by the Society for the Preservation of Women's Health. The inter- 
section of social concern, women's rights, and professional self-assertion is evi- 
dent in the career of Mariia Pokrovskaia (1852— ?) , a public-health physician who 
became an outspoken opponent of regulated prostitution and the founder of a 
feminist journal, Zhenskii vestnik (Women's Herald) , and apolitical association, the 

64 



Laura enGeLSTein 



Women's Progressive Party. By 191a, women constituted a majority of school 
teachers. Directly connected to affairs of state, the legal profession was the least 
hospitable to women's ambitions. Only after 1906 was it possible forwomento 
study law in Russia, but they were not authorized to plead in court.' 5 

The revolution of 1905 had unleashed some of these changes as part of a gen- 
eral widening of the public sphere and of opportunities for political and civic 
engagement. Although peasants and laborers had joined the social movement, 
the protest had gotten its start among landowners, professors, physicians, lawyers, 
bankers, industrialists, and self-proclaimed feminists, pressing for involvement 
in political life, protection of the law, and a social policy designed to smooth the 
transition to modernity. The concessions wrested from the regime achieved some 
of these goals. Women did not win the vote and were disappointed in their bid for 
equal rights, but they continued to mobilize in support of social causes (poverty, 
prostitution, public health, temperance). They linked up with international 
women's associations and organized a massive congress (1908), which included 
many professionals and a vocal delegation of socialists; in 1913. feminists held a 
conference on the subject of women's education.' 6 

Even though in these years women's professional gains were significant and 
their political gains few, the condition of women continued to impress contempo- 
raries as a bellwether of the nation's cultural achievement. As mid-century moder- 
ates and radicals had measured social injustice by the intensity of women's 
oppression — burdened by poverty, patriarchy, and the moral double standard — so 
at century's end conservatives saw the nation's decline (or impending doom) in 
the measure of women's emancipation. The archreactionary Duma deputy 
Vladimir Purishkevich (1870—1920) inveighed against jews and educated women, 
whose presence in public life he feared would open the floodgates to social and 
moral chaos. 1 ? 

Purishkevich's anxiety only reflected the temper of the times. Indeed, the 
sober business of women's rights was a good deal less fascinating than the erotic 
glitter of the so-called sexual question that captivated public opinion in the 1890s 
and survived the upheaval of 1905. Throughout the period, newspapers, maga- 
zines, professional congresses, and bourgeois drawing rooms buzzed with the hot 
topics of the day: divorce, abortion, and regulated prostitution; syphilis, mastur- 
bation, and white slavery. Those of a scholarly bent could find cause for alarm in 
the thick volumes published by physician and criminologist Praskovia Tarnovskaia 
(1848-1910), adapting fashionable theories of criminal anthropology to the study 
of Russian prostitutes and female thieves. Tarnovskaia belonged to the Society for 
the Protection of Women, founded in 1901 on the British model to combat the 
international prostitution trade. Two thirds of the three hundred delegates to the 
Society's 1910 congress were female, including two dozen physicians. This organi- 

65 



russia's mooern women 



zation demonstrated how women's charitable impulses had converged with their 
professional goals, both mobilized in the interests of civic amelioration.' 8 

This kind of feminism, as its radical critics pointed out, did not intend to 
remake the social order. It was, however, committed to the common good, not 
merely to personal self- improvement. It was able to combine the religious impulse 
behind philanthropy with a secular concern for cultural uplift (education, public 
health, vocational training) . The same tension between self- realization and self- 
sacrifice, so central to the intelligentsia ethos of mid-century, found classic 
expression in the writings of Lev Tolstoy (1838—1910). Public debate on the sexual 
question can reasonably be said to have opened with the appearance of Tolstoy's 
novella The Kreutzer Sonata (1889— 91), which castigated male lust, female sensual- 
ity, and the ideal of the liberated woman in equally fervid terms. Even when sancti- 
fied by the marital bond, Tolstoy declared, sexual indulgence signified the 
partners' capitulation to their lowest animal urges. The wife in Tlie Kreutzer Sonata 
is murdered by a husband driven mad, readers were led to believe, by her treach- 
erous sexual charms. (Both the novella and the novel^lnna Karenina [1877] were 
adapted to the screen in 1914, bringing their highly charged plots to a broad urban 
audience.) Reassured perhaps by Tolstoy's moralizing, while excited by his hot- 
blooded description of the passions he denounced, female readers flooded him 
with letters recounting their personal desires and torments. '9 

Christian philosopher Vasilii Rozanov (1856-1919), for his part, contributed 
to the sexual debate with fervent advocacy of divorce reform (which would have 
allowed him to obtain one), while celebrating sexual intimacy and procreation as 
spiritual gifts. Rozanov joined Tolstoy in scorning the modern bluestocking as a 
distortion of true womanhood, yet he extolled the charms of old-style patriarchal 
domesticity, all the while embracing the modern opportunity to discourse about 
sex. Like Tolstoy, he too received letters from readers testifying to the public's 
hunger for self-reflection and self- revelation. 

For the same reason, theatergoers — male and female — flocked to watch 
Henrik Ibsen's frustrated heroines writhe in the tentacles of Victorian morality. 20 
In Ibsen's dramas of thwarted female selfhood, the characters on stage represented 
the New Woman's conflict between devotion to others and to herself. The actresses 
who portrayed them, by contrast, embodied the New Woman's bold ideal of the cre- 
ative personality. Vera Komissarszhevskaia (1864— 1910), who played Hedda, was 
the most charismatic of a string of prominent actresses who made their mark in 
these years. A few of them also went backstage to run the show. In close-ups on the 
silent screen, Vera Kholodnaia (1898—1919) radiated pathos and glamour. 21 

For all its distance from classical literature and serious theater, commercial 
culture also focused on the cultivation of the self, particularly for women. If 
dreams of stardom did not come true, readers could empathize with the fictional 

66 



Laura enceLSTem 



heroines depicted in novels such as the wildly successful Keys to Happiness 
(1911—13), a six-volume potboiler written and marketed with commercial savvy 
by Anastasia Verbitskaia (1861— 192(8), who also wrote the scenario for the film 
version that appeared in 1913. Verbitskaia made a career not only as the author of 
boulevard prose but as a literary entrepreneur. Her stories dramatized the dilem- 
mas of modern womanhood, torn between the desire for love and the urge to self- 
expression. Alexandra Kollontai (18721—1952;), the Social Democratic feminist, 
writing in 1913, hailed these boulevard heroines as portraits of the actual "new 
women" who populated the workplaces, lecture halls, and shops of the prewar 
cities: Gainfully employed, self-confident, ambitious, they were the center of 
their own dramas, not the object of men's. 33 

Laws and conventions may have impeded a young woman's path to indepen- 
dence, but the times encouraged creative ambition. Verbitskaia's readers might 
have honed their girlhood fantasies by devouring the eighty or so serialized tales 
published by Lidiia Charskaia (1875-1987) between 1902; and 1918. These stories 
depicted girls of boarding-school age in familiar settings (dormitories and class- 
rooms) and exotic locales (Siberia, the Caucasus). Passionate fans sent Charskaia 
endless letters, expressing their sense of identification with both characters and 
author.- 3 Another popular work, the diary of Marie Bashkirtseff (1858—1884), 
recorded the brief life of a young Russian woman who, living in Paris, dreamt as 
much of art as of love. Translated in 1889 from the original French, its inwardness 
and self- involvement earned it awide readership, especially among women. 2 4 

Women were not excluded from the best training in the fine arts, but their 
opportunities for recognition expanded only after a new generation of painters had 
challenged the authority of the imperial academies and private patronage offered 
an alternative to official sources of support. 3 5 Some female artists, like the six 
exhibited here, were able to develop their talents and pursue distinctive careers. 
Others took their first steps not as solo practitioners but as sponsors and shapers 
of socially oriented production. Like the charity matrons with whom they worked, 
they used acceptable forms of female activity to propel themselves into the public 
and creative domains. 

Such opportunities often evolved, as in philanthropy, as an outgrowth of fam- 
ily-centered life. The tight-knit clans of the merchant elite, in which Popova, for 
example, was raised, were active in social and cultural affairs. Their proverbial 
patriarchalism seems not to have prevented their daughters from being educated 
at home and exercising their talents. For example, textile magnate Pavel Tretiakov 
(18321—1898), who used his considerable art collection as the core of the national 
picture gallery that still bears his name, was married to a woman from the 
Mamontov clan, which also devoted itself to patronage of the arts. Two of the 
Tretiakov daughters married sons of the Botkin family, whose fortunes derived 

67 














s — -V 



figure i3. Workshop on the Abramtsevo Estate. 

from the tea trade. The brothers became physicians and art connoisseurs, 
demonstrating the convergence of commercial, cultural, and professional 
interests in the urban elites of the day. Alexandra Botkina (1867—1959), 
Tretiakov's older daughter, was an amateur photographer and salon hostess, 
who sat on the gallery's board of directors and welcomed celebrated artists and 
performers, including ballerina Tamara Karsavina (1885—1978) and poet 
Zinaida Gippius (1869—1945), into her drawing room. 36 

The arts -and -crafts movement is where women came into their own, both 
as entrepreneurs and artists. As a symbol, in historian Wendy R. Salmond's 
words, "of tradition reconciled to progress, of vernacular Russian forms 
integrated . . . with the dominant Western style," the new aestheticized folk 
art perfectly represents women's own position between tradition and change. 
It also provided the conduit to women artists' engagement with Modernism, 
an outcome, as Salmond notes, "of this long tradition of women's work in the 
kustar [handicraft] arts." 2 ? 

It is in this context that we encounter some of the artists featured in this 



68 



Laura eriGeLSTein 



exhibition. The vernacular revival had its roots in the 1870s, in the aftermath 
of serfdom, when peasants were struggling with the economic hardship cre- 
ated by the terms of emancipation and beginning to suffer the impact of social 
change. Populists, labor economists, agronomists, and philanthropists wor- 
ried about the human and cultural damage that might ensue. One of the strate- 
gies devised for cushioning the villages against the effects of industrial growth 
and urban culture was to reinforce the declining tradition of peasant crafts. 28 

The various rescue missions launched in pursuit of this goal also 
depended on familial, professional, and commercial ties. In this context, 
women were instrumental in reshaping the image of the folk tradition, pre - 
serving its primitivist cachet, while adapting it to a demanding market. The 
first folk-revival workshop was created by Elizaveta Mamontova (1847—1908), 
daughter of a silk manufacturer and the wife of Sawa Mamontov (1841-1918), 
who made a fortune in railroads and devoted his life to supporting the arts. 
After founding a school and a hospital on their Abramtsevo estate, Elizaveta 
opened a joinery workshop in 1876. To train the artisans in the lost art of 
peasant crafts and to improve the quality of their products, she enlisted the 
services of Elena Polenova (1850—1898), who left her personal signature on 
the modernized handicrafts that were sold in Moscow shops (often mn by 
merchants' wives and society matrons) and achieved wide popularity in 
America and Europe. 2 ? 

Polenova's background demonstrates the classic combination of the 
themes sounded here. Her father was a distinguished archaeologist, her 
mother wrote and illustrated children's books, and her brother was an accom- 
plished painter. After volunteering as a nurse during the war with Turkey 
(1877—78), Polenova attended medical courses, then taught drawing in a 
charitable school for girls, before taking classes in watercolor and ceramics. 
As director of the Abramtsevo workshop from 188510 1890, she forged a deco- 
rative style from folk motifs that, in Salmond's words, attempted "to mend the 
thread connecting Russia's past and present." She was praised by Vladimir 
Stasov (1824— 1906) aspart of "that generation of new Russian women who . . . 
have a keen sense of our national character." In reconciling continuity and 
innovation, women of the commercial classes behaved in much the spirit of 
their culture -minded husbands and fathers, who invested the profits from 
enterprises that were reshaping the face of Russia in the production and 
preservation of cultural goods meant to honor tradition and further progress 
at the same time. This was the case of Mariia Yakunchikova (1864-1952), born 
a Mamontov, who married a textile magnate and created the Solomenko work- 
shop, which specialized in designer embroidery. The outlook also typifies 
Princess Mariia Tenisheva (1867—1928), the wife of a gentry industrialist, who 

69 



russia's moDern women 



joined with Sawa Mamontov in bankrolling Sergei Diaghilev's (1872—1929) jour- 
nal, Mir iskusstva (The World of Art), which first appeared in 1898. She also created 
her own craft workshop at her Talashkino estate. 30 

The artists who designed for the handicraft workshops took the basic vocabu- 
lary of folk art and fashioned a design grammar legible to the urban consumer. A 
similar combination of primitive and modern was at work in the painting by 
Mikhail Larionov (1881—1964) and Goncharova during this period and in the styl- 
istic eclecticism of the European-oriented World of Art school. For all its contribu- 
tion to developing a modern decorative aesthetic, however, the handicraft 
movement never abandoned its social goals. During World War I, Alexandra Exter, 
on behalf of the Kiev Handicraft Society, convinced her St. Petersburg colleagues 
(including Popova, Rozanova, and Udaltsova) to help produce useful decorated 
goods. The three were by then associated with the Supremus group of Kazimir 
Malevich (1878—1935); Exter dubbed them the "folk futurists." 3 ' They continued 
into the Soviet future, when the relation between old and new was inverted. 
Whereas old-regime traditionalism had left room for cultural innovation, the ide- 
ology of progress would enforce artistic conformity and create a traditionalism of 
its own, but not before the Modern had ushered in the new age and its New Women. 

1. See Lindsey Hughes, "Peter the Great's Two Weddings: Changing Images of Women in a 
Transitional Age," in Women in Russia and Ukraine, ed. and tr. Rosalind Marsh (Cambridge: 
Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 31-44. Quote from Pushkin's poem "The Bronze 
Horseman." 

2. See Richard S. Wortman, Scenarios of Power: Myth and Ceremony in Russian Monarchy (Princeton: 
Princeton University Press, 1995), vol 1, pp. 62—66: idem, "Images of Rule and Problems of 
Gender in the Upbringing of Paul I and Alexander I," in Imperial Russia 1700—1977, ed. Ezra 
Mendelsohn and Marshall S. Shatz (DeKalb. IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1988), pp. 

58-75- 

3. See Alexander M. Martin. Romantics, Reformers. Reactionaries: Russian Conservative Thought and 
Politics in the Reign of Alexander I (DeKalb. IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1997). pp. 
91-109: W. Bruce Lincoln, In the Vanguard of Reform: Russia's Enlightened Bureaucrats iSaj— 1S61 
(DeKalb. IL: Northern Illinois University Press. 198a). pp. 148-62: Lina Bernstein. "Women on 
the Verge of a New Language: Russian Salon Hostesses mthe First Half of the Nineteenth 
Century." in .Russia. Women, Culture, ed. Helena Goscilo and Beth Holmgren (Bloomington: 
Indiana University Press. 1996), pp. 209—24. 

4. See Jane McDermid and Anna Hillyar. Women and Work in Russia i88o—ig3o:AStudyin Continuity 
through Change (London and New York: Longman, 1998), pp. 35, 68; Rossiia igi3god-. Statistiko- 
dokumental'nyi spravochnik, ed. A. P. Korelin (St. Petersburg: Rossiiskaia akademiia nauk, 
Instirut Rossiiskoi istorii, 1995). pp. 17. 23. 219, 221, 223, 827. 

5. The classic account is Richard Stites, The Women's Liberation Movement in Russia: Feminism, 
Nihilism, and Bolshevism, i86o-iq3o (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978); see also 
Barbara Alpern Engel, Mothers and Daughters-. Women of the Intelligentsia in Nineteenth-Century 
Russia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). 



70 



Laura eriGeLSTem 



6. See Five Sisters: Women Against the Tsar, ed. and tr. Barbara Alpern Engel and Clifford N. 
Rosenthal (New York: Knopf, 1975): Vera Broido, Apostles into Terrorists: Women and the 
Revolutionary Movement in the Russia of Alexander II (New York: Viking, 1977): Stites, Women's 
Liberation, pp. 138-54; J a y Bergman. Vera Zasulich: A Biography (Stanford: Stanford University 
Press, 1983): Vera Figner. Memoirs of a Revolutionist, intro. Richard Stites (DeKalb. IL: Northern 
Illinois University Press, 1991), 

7. See Barbara Alpern Engel, Between the Fields and the City-. Women, Work, and Family in Russia. 
1861-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994): Rose L. Glickman. Russian Factory 
Women: Workplace and Society, 1880-1914, (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1984); David 
L. Ransel, Mothers of Misery: Child Abandonment in Russia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 
1988): Laurie Bernstein, Sonia's Daughters: Prostitutes and Their Regulation in Imperial Russia 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). 

8. For an overview, see Stites, Women's Liberation-, also Laura Engelstein, The Keys to Happiness-. 
SexandtheSearchforModernityinFin-de-SiecleRussia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993); 
William G. Wagner, Marriage, Property and Law in Late Imperial Russia (Oxford: Oxford University 
Press, 1994): idem. "The Trojan Mare: Women's Rights and Civil Rights in Late Imperial Russia," 
in Civil Rights in Russia, ed. Olga Crisp and Linda Edmondson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 
pp. 65-84. 

9. SeeWortman. Scenarios, vol. 1, pp. 149-51; idem, "Moscow and Petersburg: The Problem of 
Political Center in Tsarist Russia, 1881-1914," in Bites of Power: Symbolism. Ritual, and Politics 
Since the Middle Ages, ed. SeanWilentz (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), 
pp. 244^71; idem, "Nikolai i obrazsamoderzhaviia," in Re formyili revoliutsiia? Rossiia 1861—10.17 
(St. Petersburg: Nauka. 1992). pp. i8-3o; and idem. "Publicizing Nicholas II in 1913," inSelfand 
Story in Russian History, ed. Laura Engelstein and Stephanie Sandler (Ithaca: Cornell University 
Press, 2000). 

10. See Adele Lindenmeyr, Poverty Is Not a Vice: Charity, Society, and the State in Imperial Russia 
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 15; Brenda Meehan, Holy Women of Russia: 
The Lives of Five Orthodox Women Off er Spiritual Guidance for Today (San Francisco: Harper, 1993). 
pp. 13-14, and passim; Gregory L. Freeze, "Bringing Order to the Russian Family: Marriage and 
Divorce in Imperial Russia, 1760- 1860," Journal of Modern History 62 (1990), pp. 709—46. 

11. Lindenmeyr. Poverty, p. 116. 

12. See Lbid., pp. 97, 125—26, 151; Catriona Kelly, "Teacups and Coffins; The Culture of Russian 
Merchant Women, 1850-1917," in Women in Russia and Ukraine, pp. 55—77. 

i3. See Stites, Women's Liberation, pp. 85—86, 166-76; Natalia Pushkareva, Women in Russian History:-. 
From, the Tenth to the Twentieth Century, tr. and ed. Eve Levin (Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 1997), 
pp. 209-12: Sofya Kovalevskaya, A Russian Childhood, tr. and ed. Beatrice Stillman (New York: 
Springer, 1978); Ann Hibner Koblitz.yl Convergence of Lives-. Sofia Kovalevskaia. Scientist. Writer. 
Revolutionary (Boston: Birkhauser, 1983). 

14. See Christine Johanson. Women's Struggle for Higher Education in Russia. 1855-igoo (Kingstonand 
Montreal: McGill- Queen's University Press, 1987). 

15. Seeflossua ia.i3god. pp. 346-47; James McClelland, "Diversification in Russian-Soviet 
Education," in The Transformation of Higher Learning. i86o—ig3o: Expansion. Diversification. Social 
Opening, and Professionalization in England. Germany. Russia, and the United States, ed. Konrad H. 
Jarausch (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1983). pp. 184. 187; Joseph Bradley. "Moscow: 
From Big Village to Metropolis," in The City in Late Imperial Russia, ed. Michael F. Hamm 
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), p. 2i; Nancy Mandelker Frieden. Russian 



7 1 



russia's moDern women 



Physicians in an Era of Reform and Revolution. 1856-1905 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 
1981), p. 323; Linda Edmondson, Feminism in Russia, 1900—1917 (Stanford: Stanford University 
Press, 1984), p. 147; M ary Schaeffer Conroy, "Women Pharmacists in Russia before World War L 
Women's Emancipation, Feminism, Professionalization, Nationalism, and Class Conflict," in 
Women and Society in Russia and the Soviet Union, ed. Linda Edmondson (Cambridge: Cambridge 
University Press, 1992), p. 48; Engelstein, Keys to Happiness, pp. 192—93, 223—25; Stites, Women's 
Liberation, pp. 202-3, 225—26; Pushkareva, Women in Russian History, 211; McDermid and Hillyar, 
Women and Work, 71-76; Christine Ruane, Gender, Class, and the Professionalization of Russian City 
Teachers, i860— 1914 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 1994). 

16. See Edmondson, Feminism, pp. 189— 50; idem, "Women's Rights, Civil Rights, and the Debate 
Over Citizenship in the 1905 Revolution," in Women and Society, pp. 77—100; Constructing Russian 
Culture in the Age of Revolution: 1881-194,0. ed. Catriona Kelly and David Sheperd (Oxford: Oxford 
University Press, 1998), pp. 193—211. 

17. See Engelstein, Keys to Happiness, p. 3i3. 

18. See ibid., pp. 69—70, 137—54, 2 ^ 1 - 

19. See ibid. , pp. 218-21,373-74; Engelstein, "'Kreitserova sonata' LvaTolstogo, russkiifin-de-sekl 
i voprosy seksa," in Kulturologicheskiezapiski, vol. 3: Erosvkulture (Moscow: Gosudarstvennyi 
institut iskusstvoznaniia.i997),pp. 30-44; Peter Ulf Mailer, Postiude to "The Kreutzer Sonata"-. 
Tolstoj an d the Debate on Sexual Morality in Russian Literature in the 1890s, tr. 

John Kendal (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1988). 

20. See Engelstein, Keys to Happiness, pp. 299-333. 

2i. See Osip Mandelstam, "The Noise of Time." in The Prose of Osip Mandelstam . tr. andintro. 
Clarence Brown (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965), p. 123 (and in general for the 
mood of the period); Catherine A. Schuler, Women m Russian Tlieater: Tlie Actress in the Silver Age 
(London and New York: Routledge. 1996); Louise McReynolds, "The Silent Movie Melodrama: 
Evgenii Bauer Fashions the Hero(in)ic Self." in Self and Story. 

22. See Engelstein, Keys to Happiness, pp. 399—404; Jeffrey Brooks, When Russia Learned to Read: 
Literacy and Popular Literature, 1861—1911 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), pp. 
153-60; Beth Holmgren, "Gendering the Icon: Marketing Women Writers in Fin-de-Siecle 
Russia," inRussia. Women. Culture, pp. 321—46. See also Constructing Russian Culture, pp. n3— 25. 

23. See Susan Larsen, "Girl Talk: Lidiia Charskaia and Her Readers," inSelfand Story-, Beth 
Holmgren, "Why Russian Girls Loved Charskaia," Russian Review 54:1 (1995), pp. 91-106. 

24. See Charlotte Rosenthal, "The Silver Age: Highpoint for Women?," in Women and Society , pp. 
34-36, 44-45; Russia Through Women's Eyes-. Autobiographies from Tsarist Russia, ed. Toby W. 
Clyman and Judith Vowles (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), p. 41 ; also Catriona Kelly, A 
History of Russian Women's Writing, 182,0-1992 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994). pp. 
155-56 (dates slightly off). Eve Le Gallienne wrote about the character Hedda Gabler, that "there 
is a lot of Marie Bashkirtseff in her": Henrik Ibsen, Hedda Gabler, preface by Eve Le Gallienne 
(New York: New York University Press, 1955), p. 8. 

25. See Alison Hilton. "Domestic Crafts and Creative Freedom: Russian Women's Art," inRussia, 
Women, Culture, pp. 347-76. 

26. Muriel Joffe and Adele Lindenmeyr, "Daughters, Wives, and Partners: Women of the Moscow 
Merchant Elite," in Merchant Moscow: Images of Russia 's Vanished Bourgeoisie, ed. James L. West 
andluriiA. Petrov (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), pp. 95-108. Also, more gener- 
ally, JohnO. Norman, "Pavel Tretiakov and Merchant Art Patronage, 1850-1900" and John E. 
Bowlt, "The Moscow Art Market," in Between Tsar and People: Educated Society and the Quest for 



72 



Public Identity in Late Imperial Russia, ed. Edith W. Clowes. Samuel D. Kassow, and James L. West 
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), pp. 93-128; Jo Ann Ruckman, The Moscow 
Business Elite: A Social and Cultural Portrait of Two Generations, 184,0-1905 (DeKalb, IL: Northern 
Illinois University Press, 1984); Serebriann vek v fotografiiakh A. P. Botkinoi, ed. E. S. KhokhJova 
(Moscow: Nashe nasledie, 1998) (thanks to Stephen Kotkin for this source). 

27. Wendy R. SalmondMrts and Crafts in Late Imperial Russia (Cambridge: Cambridge University 
Press, 1996), pp. 3, i3. 

28. Lewis H. Siegelbaum. "Exhibiting Kustar Industry in Late Imperial Russia/Exhibiting Late 
Imperial Russia in Kustar Industry," in Transforming Peasants: Society, State, and the Peasantry. 
i86i-ic/3o, ed. Judith Pallot (Rasingstoke: Macmillan, 1998). pp. 37-63. 

29. Salmond./lrtsand Crafts, chapter i; John E. Bowlt, The Silver Age, Russian Art of the Early Twentieth 
Century, and the "World of Art" Group (Newtonville, MA: Oriental Research Partners, 1979), 

pp. 3o-39- 

30. Salmond,-4rts and Crafts, pp. 53, 48 (quotes): Bowlt, Silver Age, pp. 39-4.6. 
3i. Salmond,/lrts and Crafts, p. 184. 



73 




figure 14. Varvara Stepanova drawing textile designs, 
photographed by Alexander Rodchenko, 1 924- 



Germer TrouBLe in THe 
amazonian KinGDom : 
Turn-OF-THe-cenTurY 
represenTaTions of 
women in russia 



OLGa maTicH 



Questions of sex and gender informed, if not pervaded, European culture of the 
late -nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The destabilization of gender in 
an age obsessed with female power and its threat to men characterized the lives 
and work of many artists and writers. The desire to veil what became known as the 
"phallic woman" existed alongside the wish to unveil her "phallic power." Those 
obsessed with society's physical health pathologized the ambiguities of female 
sexuality. The demonization of women posed a challenge to the strongest among 
them, resulting in an eruption of female creativity, based in part on women's phan- 
tasmic power. This liberating burst of energy exposed female desire and gender 
ambiguity, reflecting what Elaine Showalter calls fin-de-siecle "sexual anarchy." ' 

In Russia, women poets and artists were also experimenting with gender at 
the turn of the twentieth century. Cross-voicing in poetry and cross-dressing in 
public characterized the (self-) representation of some of the more radical creative 
women of the time. The destabilization of gender typified not only their art, but 
also the way they exhibited their bodies, and it informed their subjectivity in a 
totalizing way. This essay focuses on the visual and poetic representations of 
"sexual anarchy" embodied by three Russian women — Zinaida Nikolaevna Gippius 
(1869-1945), Ida Lvovna Rubinstein (1885-1960), and Elizaveta Sergeevna 
Kruglikova (1865-1941) —who invested their creativity in the act of unveiling their 
gender ambiguity. Their literary, performative, and artistic strategies reflected the 
desire to cross gender boundaries by challenging the presumed impermeability of 

75 



cenDer irouBLe in rae amazoman KinGDom 



male difference. Although some of the visual representations discussed in this 
essay were crafted by men, my claim is that these powerful women imposed their 
self-image on these male artists. Such a relationship between artist and female 
model may have been normalized by the "feminization" of fin-de-siecle artistic 
sensibility. This feminization contributed directly to the cultural ambience out 
of which the subsequent, even more radical, generation of women emerged. 

The six avant-garde artists featured in this exhibition also treated the human 
figure in terms that blurred gender boundaries. But unlike their older sisters, 
they tended not to invest themselves personally in a gender-bending subjectivity; 
accordingly, references here will be almost exclusively to their artistic output, not 
to their public personas and personal lives. The connotations of gender ambiguity 
were quite different for the women of the avant-garde. Their goal was the repre- 
sentation of the new "man" (chelovek in Russian, a noun referring to both men and 
women), who was an androgyne of sorts. Instead of referring to gender trouble, 
the avant-garde androgyne was frequently modeled on the African mask, which 
had also inspired the representation of the human face in the European avant- 
garde. This unisex figure was stylized, not pathologized or sexualized, a condition 
that may well be associated with Natalia Goncharova's Neo-Primitivist works. 

A common term for gender destabilization in the European fin de siecle was 
androgyny, which had a variety of connotations: it represented an aesthetic ideal, 
but it also served as a euphemistic substitute for lesbianism and homosexuality. 
The figure of the androgyne reflected castration anxiety, a key trope of Western 
European Decadence. This figure of indeterminate gender was considered 
"degenerate" (a term popularized by Max Nordau's book Degeneration [1892] 2 ) 
or pathological, because it undermined reproductive health and the continuity 
of the race. 

By contrast, the androgyne of Russian Symbolism of the 1890s to 1910s, as 
defined by the idealist philosopher Vladimir Soloviev, was a Platonic spiritual 
hybrid that heralded the desired transfiguration of the body. It transcended 
gender difference by reference to Platonic androgyny, a philosophical, not an 
aesthetic or pathological, concept. Instead of fixating on the androgyne as a figure 
of castration anxiety, some Russians focused on its apocalyptic, or Utopian, 
antiprocreationism, resulting — according to Soloviev and his followers — in an 
immortalized body. The Utopian goal was the transcendence of the death-dealing 
natural cycle, in which birth inevitably leads to death. The Platonic Utopian 
androgyne prefigured the end of time exalted by the early Russian Modernists of 
the Symbolist generation. It marked the beginning of the awaited collective Utopia, 
which would include bodily, not just social, change. The ideology of Utopian 
Symbolists and the subsequent Utopian avant-garde focused not on castration, an 
individual fear, but on the collective transfiguration of life. 3 This is abroad gener- 

76 



oLGa m alien 



alization regarding the Russian view of the coming end and naturally has many 
exceptions, such as Goncharova's apocalyptic Maiden on the Beast, 1911 (see fig. 89 
for the later woodcut version) . The image invokes the whore of Babylon, a phallic 
woman, even though Goncharova emphasized the maternal stomach and breasts, 
underscoring the role of the female as procreatrix. 

The most celebrated gender-bending woman of the Symbolist generation was 
Zinaida Gippius, who preached Soloviev's vision of Utopian androgyny. A major 
poet, prose writer, critic, religious thinker, and salon hostess, she remains nearly 
unknown in the West.* Gippius's cross-gendered literary persona revealed itself 
in her metaphysical poetry, whose lyrical "I" was grammatically masculine when 
expressing itself in the past tense and in personal adjectives. (Russian grammar 
has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.) In the desire to scramble 
her gender, Gippius wrote much of her poetry in the male voice, yet signed it as a 
woman; as a critic, she appeared under the male pseudonym Anton the Extreme. 

Just as provocative and more flamboyant than Gippius's refined poetry and 
prose was her self- representation in life and in the arena of Symbolist "life- 
creation" (zhiznetvorchestvo) , which had among its goals the redefinition of gender, 
even of physiology. Despite her Utopian agenda, however, her public persona was 
that of a phallic woman. The verbal portraits of Gippius by contemporaries 
describe her in Decadent terms. They emphasize her flat-chested, narrow-hipped 
body, green mermaid eyes, serpentine sting, and bright red mouth, which is asso- 
ciated with La Gioconda's ambiguous smile as well as the phallic woman's blood- 
thirstiness. Andrei Bely 5 wrote a stylized, grotesque portrait of Gippius, invoking 
the name of the misogynistic English artist Aubrey Beardsley in describing her 
seductively demonic emaciated figure: 

Z. Gippius is just like a human-sized wasp, if she is not the skeleton of a "seductress" 
(the pen of Aubrey Beardsley); a lump of distended red hair . . . ,• powder and luster 
from a lorgnette . . . ,• the flame of a lip . . . -.from her forehead, like a beaming eye. 
dangled a stone; on a black cord, a black cross rattled from her breastless bosom 
legs crossed: she tossed back the train of her close-fitting dress-, the charm of her bony, 
hip-less skeleton recalled a communicant deftly captivating Satan. 6 
White was Gippius's favorite color. Symbolist poet Valerii Briusov noted in 
his diary that she asked him once whether white could be worn in Moscow for all 
occasions, claiming that her skin was allergic to other colors. : Gippius posed for 
photographers dressed in white and declaimed her poetry in public wearing white 
gowns with gauze wings at the shoulders. A full-length, frontal photograph of the 
beautiful young Gippius presents her in a demure long white dress with a train 
carefully draped in front, in the conventional style of the time; on a long chain 
hangs her ever-present lorgnette (the female dandy's monocle), which she would 
bring to her haughty, nearsighted eyes in conversation (fig. 15). Gippius appar- 



77 




figure 15. Zinaida Gippius, photographed by Otto Renar, Moscow, ca. 1900. 



78 



OLGa maTicH 



ently lived a celibate life, and the white dresses were symbolic of her virginity. 
During the first ten years of her marriage to Dmitrii Merezhkovsky, she sometimes 
sported a single braid as an emblem of her chastity. In considering Gippius as a 
seductress of the Russian fin de siecle, we have to bear in mind this paradoxical 
sexuality, informed as it was by self-conscious chastity and spiritual androgyny. 
(How different was this behavior from the no-nonsense sexuality of the Amazons!) 

Another facet of Gippius's public image was that of a self-styled Cleopatra, a 
prototype of the modern femme fatale. A forehead pendant was one of the accou- 
trements of Gippius's Cleopatrine costume, and, staging herself as St. Petersburg's 
Egyptian queen, she would sometimes receive guests, especially young male 
acolytes, reclining on a sofa in her apartment. Olga Rozanova's Portrait of a Lady in 
Pink (Portrait of Anna Rozanova, the Artist's Sister) , 1911—13 (plate 42) comes to mind 
here, for it also displays a seductive woman reposing on a sofa. 8 

Gippius's Cleopatrine image included a cigarette holder and perfumed ciga- 
rettes, which modernized the figure of the ancient queen. The visual representa- 
tion of women smokingwas rare at the time, for not only was it emblematic of 
mannishness, but it was also considered a sign of lesbian sexuality. Havelock 
Ellis wrote in 1895 that the "pronounced tendency to adopt male attire" and the 
"pronounced taste for smoking" characterized sexually inverted women. 9 Anna 
Akhmatova, who was soon to become the reigning queen of the Russian Silver 
Age, was a smoker, but this fact did not enter her public portrait. The habit was 
also downplayed in descriptions of Alexandra Exter, a heavy smoker. Some years 
later, photographic portraits of Varvara Stepanova — many of them taken by her 
husband, Alexander Rodchenko, Russia's leading avant-garde photographer — 
typically featured a cigarette between her lips or fingers (see fig. 14). In this 
case, however, smoking was not a signpost of gender, but of affiliation with the 
working class. 10 

In a 1907 caricature, Gippius is represented in profile, sheathed in a tight- 
fitting white dress with a fashionable train forming a flared bottom and a pocket 
containing a pack of cigarettes (fig. 16) . A cigarette between her lips, she holds a 
lorgnette in one hand, while from the other, like a pendant, hangs a sinister spi- 
der. Her face is dwarfed by her large coiffure, and she casts a small black shadow 
behind her. She is phallic, but not mannish — an image projected not only by the 
cigarette she holds in her mouth, but also from the profile view. According to 
philosopher and mathematician Pavel Florensky, the profile signifies power in 
contrast to the frontal view; it is a destabilizing facial angle that connotes forward 
movement." While Florensky does not address the question of gender, his inter- 
pretation explains why the profile might have held appeal for women like Gippius. 

Leon Rakst's famous 1906 full-length portrait of Gippius displays a tall figure 
reclining in a chair, presenting herself as a dandy. She wears tight knee-length 



79 



Germer TrouBLe in THe aniazonian KinGDoni 



(y«lo<i3roino|\i'04Ej|<jw&a/ifrt> 




figure 16. miTTICH 
[Dmitrii Dmitrievich Togolsky] 
Caricature ofZmaida Gippius, 1907 



pants (Gippius was known to sport culottes as well) . Her long legs are artfully 
crossed and her hands are in her pockets, gestures marked as male. Her face, 
framed by a head of thick red hair and a filmy white jabot, is appropriately pale; 
languid eyes are disdainfully averted from the viewer's curious gaze; a sensuous 
mouth displays an ironic, Gioconda-like smile. 12 Accordingto John Bowlt, "The 
remarkable portrait (which [Gippius] did not like) reveals at once the contradic- 
tions of this extraordinary personality — her refinement and her affectation, her 
maliciousness and her frailty." l3 Most important, the image reveals a Wildean 
dandy, a turn-of-the-century aristocratic transvestite who subverts the binary 
system of gender. According to Charles Baudelaire, the dandy was the most privi- 
leged of the male gender because he was artfully self- constructed: thus the appro- 
priation of the dandy look by women reveals a desire to outdo men in the act of 
self-presentation. 1 * 

Gippius undoubtedly participated in the construction of her own image in this 
portrait by Bakst. She was not a passive female model, but the cocreator of the rep- 
resentation, thus blurring the relation between model and artist. Since the dandy 
by definition chooses his or her visual embodiment, the power relation between 
model and artist in this case had to be fluid. Moreover, one simply cannot imagine 
the willful and capricious Gippius submitting to Bakst's personal vision.^ 

Gippius's sex life and sexual preferences corresponded to the discursive fluid- 
ity of her gender boundaries, a fluidity that was not only a matter of dress but also 



80 



OLGa maTicH 



of psychology. Like so many fin- de-sieele men and women, Gippius had difficulty 
inhabiting her body, and this difficulty was perhaps due to her gender indetermi- 
nacy. In a passage from her diary of love affairs, we can see that this blurring of 
genders was not only a strategy to destabilize social convention and transform life, 
but it was also a source of deep personal anxiety: 

I do not desire exclusive femininity, just as I do not desire exclusive masculinity. 

Each time someone is insulted and dissatisfied within me-, with women, my 

femininity is active, with men — my masculinity. In my thoughts, my desires, in 

my spirit — I am more a man-, in my body — I am more a woman. Yet they are so 

fused together that I know nothing. ' 6 

Gippius lived in a celibate marriage with Merezhkovsky for fifty-four years. He 
was sexually attracted to women, but not to his wife. Meanwhile, Gippius had mul- 
tiple triangulated "love affairs" with both men and women, which in all likelihood 
— at least in the case of the men — were sexually unconsummated. She clearly priv- 
ileged the male gender, however, and her favorite men were homosexual. In 1898, 
Gippius and Merezhkovsky stayed in Taormina at the villa of Franz von Gloeden, 
the well-known homosexual artist and photographer. She wrote in her diary about 
one of the other guests. "I like the illusion of possibility — as if there were a tinge of 
bisexuality; he seems to be both woman and man." '? It was at Von Gloeden's villa 
that Gippius met a musician, Elizabeth von Overbeck, with whom she was reputed 
to have had a lesbian relationship, although she never referred to it herself. 
Gippius flaunted her attraction to homosexual men, but not to women. The great 
love of her life was Dmitrii Filosofov, Diaghilev's cousin and lover and cofounder 
of the first Modernist art journal in Russia, Miriskusstva (World of Art). After part- 
ing from Diaghilev. Filosofov lived with Gippius and Merezhkovsky in a chaste 
menage a trois for fifteen difficult years.' 8 The supposed function of this arrange- 
ment was a Utopian transfiguration of life based on a nonprocreative triple union. 

Gippius masterminded her erotic life on both the phantasmic and real-life 
levels. Even though her public persona resembled the figure of the Decadent 
androgyne, her poetry and philosophical essays focused on spiritual androgyny 
and its function in the awaited transfiguration of life. In other words, Gippius's 
persona revealed a fundamental split between the imaginary Utopian androgyne 
and the one that resembled the Decadent phallic woman. "While this split, which 
was rooted in her sexuality and her body (there were persistent rumors that 
Gippius was a hermaphrodite), was the source of a deep anguish, it was also the 
source of Gippius's creativity and subversive experimentation with gender. 

If Cleopatra was a prominent prototype of the femme fatale in Russia, the 
reigning cpieen of European Decadence was Salome. In the words of Carl Schorske, 
"Salome [was] the fin de siecle"s favorite phallic woman." '9 Her dance of the veils 
liberated the female performer, while it both liberated and threatened her audi- 



GenDer TrouBLe in THe amazoman KincDom 



ence. The destabilization of traditional gender roles that this dance represented 
empowered women and those men whose self- identity departed from the image of 
the conventional phallic male. Exposing female desire — which included decapita- 
tion, or castration, of the male — Salome's unveiling reflected male fear of 
women's sexuality and of the uncertainties of gender difference. Salome was the 
symbol of both the epoch's "sexual anarchy" and the castrating female. In Russia, 
the Salome craze was initiated by the publication in Russian of Oscar Wilde's 
eponymous play in 1904 by the Symbolist poet Konstantin Balmont: it was 
reprinted five times in the following four years. In 1907, Konstantin Stanislavsky's 
Moscow Art Theater applied to the theatrical censor for permission to stage 
Salome, without success. Several theaters, including provincial ones, did manage 
to perform abbreviated versions of the play in that and the following year, but none 
of these productions made theatrical history. 

The Russian-born Ida Lvovna Rubinstein, who became a notorious Salome on 
the European stage, put together her own Salome production in St. Petersburg in 
1908. The daughter of a rich banker, she commissioned some of the most exciting 
Russian theatrical talent of the time: Vsevolod Meierkhold as director, Bakst as set 
and costume designer. Alexander Glazunovas composer, and Michel Fokine as 
choreographer. However, the performance apparently never reached the public, as 
it was banned shortly before opening night. But Salome's costume and dance of the 
veils migrated into Diaghilev's 1909 production of Cleopatre, which was one of the 
biggest hits of the Ballets Russes's first Paris season (see fig. 17). 2 ° Salome became 
Cleopatra in this production, as if the two were fundamentally the same. 
Describing Rubinstein's appearance onstage, Jean Cocteau gave a compelling 
Orientalist depiction of Cleopatra unwinding her veils. Using Art Nouveau images, 
he rendered the unveiling of Cleopatra's corpse from layers of history and nature-, 
his description contrasts her sepulchral image with the living veils, which gradu- 
ally unwound to reveal the destabilizing femme fatale of the European Decadence: 
From within [the casket] emerged a kind of glorified mummy, swathed in veils. . . . 
The first veil . . . was red wrought with lotuses and silver crocodiles, the second was 
green with all the history of the dynasties in gold filigree upon it, the third was orange 
shot with a hundred prismatic hues. . . . the twelfth [veil], was of indigo, and under 
[it] the outline of a woman could be discerned. Each of the veils unwound itself in a 
fashion of its own: one [resembled] the peeling of a walnut, [another] the airy- 
detachment of petals from a rose, and the eleventh . . . came away all in one piece 
like the bark of the eucalyptus tree. The twelfth veil . . . released Madame Rubinstein, 
who let it fall herself with a sweeping circular gestured' 
The performance launched Rubinstein's reputation, not at home but in Paris, 
where she was considered an exotic figure who spoke French with a heavy 
Russian accent. 



83 




figure 17. Ida Rubinstein, wearing costume designed by 
Leon Bakst, in Cleopatre, Paris, 1909. 



The best-known production of Salome in Russia appeared in 1908 in the 
Theater of Vera Kommissarzhevskaia, who was herself a famous actress. 
Rubinstein — then still an aspiring actress and dancer — had tried hard to get the 
lead in the production, but had failed. The play's director, Nikolai Evreinov, an 
experimental, androgynous figure of the Russian theater (and a friend of Exter, 
Goncharova, and Rozanova) , received permission to stage the play, but he also 
failed to bring Salome to a major Russian stage. In a preemptive attempt to avoid 
the outrage of Russian Orthodox institutions, Evreinov removed the biblical names 
from the play and replaced them with generic ones. He also excised the play's most 
provocative scene, which fetishizes the phallus, in which Salome addresses the 
head of the Raptist in an erotic monologue; instead, she spoke her words into the 
opening of a cistern, at the bottom of which lay the saint's corpse. 

The play's dress rehearsal, on October 27, became legend. St. Petersburg's 
governing and cultural elite attended the event, including the vice-mayor, mem- 
bers of the State Council and State Duma (among them the reactionary anti-Semite 
Vladimir Purishkevich). and writers such as Fedor Sologub. Leonid Andreev. and 
Alexander Rlok, the premier poet of Russian Symbolism, whose poetry was 
inspired by the figure of the veiled woman. 22 (Evreinov's Salome was Natalia 
Volokhova, Rlok's dark muse.) The day after the dress rehearsal, several hours 
before opening night, Evreinov's production was banned, creating a furor in the 
Russian press. 



83 



cermer TrouBLe in rae amazonian KinGDom 



Audience members at the play's dress rehearsal had witnessed Nikolai 
Kalmakov's stylized set and costume designs, which, like Evreinov's production 
as a whole, were self-consciously erotic. A costume design for Salome (signed with 
Kalmakov's trademark stylized phallus) depicts a female figure who appears to be 
naked, but turns out to be wearing a body stocking with red nipples on her small 
androgynous breasts to symbolize her nudity. In the performance itself, Salome 
was draped in white veils of innocence, slipping out of them during the dance. 

The dance in Evreinov's production was suggestively seductive but not explicit, 
with nakedness rendered symbolically, and the removal of Salome's final layer 
took place on a darkened stage. 23 Kalmakov's sets had been influenced by 
Beardsley 2 4; echoing Beardsley's image of Wilde in the "Woman in the Moon," 
the huge moon on the set contained the imprint of a woman's naked body. "Look 
closely at [the moon]," wrote a reviewer in Birzhevye vedomosti (Stock-Exchange 
News), "and you will discern in it the silhouette of a naked woman." 2 5 According to 
some sources, the main set for the first act was in the shape of female genitalia. 36 
If this is true, the female genitals would have invoked, at least in some members 
of the audience, the image of the vagina dentata, a fantasy image that had inspired 
fear as well as desire in the fin-de-siecle male imagination, especially in Europe. 

The theatrical ban of Wilde's Salome in Russia was lifted in 1917, shortly after 
the February Revolution. But by then the new society was no longer so interested 
in the hothouse gender-bending and sexual experimentation that had fascinated 
Rubinstein and Evreinov. Times had changed; politics and social revolution were 
the dominant concerns. Still, the famous production of Salome directed by Tairov 
and performed at the Chamber Theater in Petrograd the year the ban was lifted 
was reminiscent of the ill-fated earlier productions. This was especially true of 
the set and costume designs by Exter. Despite its dynamism, her architectonic set, 
which prefigured Constructivist decor, was reminiscent of Kalmakov's spectacle, 
as was her angular yet billowing costume for Salome; her Amazonian Salome was 
still modeled on the Decadent phallic woman. Exter's stage design of the 1 9 1 os in 
general had an affinity with Evreinov's Symbolist Salome production and also with 
Bakst's Salome and Cleopatre. 

Rubinstein, the best-known Russian Salome abroad, turned not only to Salome 
but also to the ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece, and Rome for artistic inspiration. 
Of Russian-Jewish origin, she was a mime more than a dancer. After she left 
Diaghilev's company, she formed her own in 1911, and was its star. Tall, very thin, 
exotically beautiful, eccentric, expensively and flamboyantly dressed, Rubinstein 
had a chiseled aquiline profile (evident in her archly posed photographs and por- 
traits) that evoked Egyptian wall painting or Greek bas-reliefs and vases. Describing 
her as Cleopatra in 1909, Prince Peter Lieven refers to Rubinstein's "marvellous 
Eastern profile . . . that seemed to have descended from an Egyptian bas-relief." 2 ? 

84 




left: 

figure i8.vaLenTin serov 

Portrait of Ida Rubinstein, 1910 
Tempera on canvas, 147 x a33 cm 
State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg 

figure 19. aLexei raDaKOv 

Caricature of Ida Rubinstein, 1912 

In an age that revived Orientalism and popularized Decadent emaciation, 
Rubinstein cultivated a look that was both Oriental and corpselike. She was an 
independent, liberated woman whose tastes were bisexual. Her affairs with Italian 
poet Gabriele D'Annunzio and Romaine Rrooks, a lesbian American artist who 
lived in Paris, were common knowledge. She inspired several famous homosexual 
artists, including Raron Robert de Montescruiou, Vaslav Nijinsky, and Cocteau. 

The removal of exotic layers of clothing to reveal the naked body characterized 
the performative, as well as the phantasmic, image of Europe's femme fatale, and 
according to Alexandre Renois. artistic designer for the Rallets Russes, Rubinstein 
would sometimes strip naked in public to create a special artistic effect. 28 In fact, 
there exist several paintings and photographs of Rubinstein in the nude. Valentin 
Serov, Russia's leading portrait artist of the turn of the century and a professor at 
the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, cradle of Moscow's 
avant-garde, painted her in the nude in 1910 (fig. 18). The portrait — intended as 
a poster for the Rallets Russes's 1910 Paris season — was controversial, despite 
Serov's concealment of the genital area by the angle. Rubinstein's anorexic sepul- 
chral figure, the blue draping, the green veil that covers her left leg, and the rings 
on her fingers and toes correspond to the vision of Cleopatra as an unveiled 
mummy in Diaghilev's ballet. 

Serov's portrait was parodied by Alexei Radakovin 1912 (fig- 19)- The pose 
and veils in Radakov's version remain the same, but the body is highly stylized; 
Radakov reduced the already limited lines in Serov's portrait even further, so that 
Rubinstein appears as no more than a stick figure. The representation suggests the 
image of a match girl: Rubinstein's torso is a matchbox slightly open at the top, 
her limbs are burnt matches breaking at the joints, and her Medusa-like head is 
impaled on a lit match, with funnels of smoke in the shape of giant spiraling curls. 
Viewed in reference to Salome, the figure suggests self-immolation. Though 



85 




figure 20. romame BrooKS 

LeTrajet (The Voyage), ca. 1911 
Oil on canvas, 115.2 x 191.4 cm 
National Museum of American 
Art, Smithsonian Institution, 
Washington, D.C., Gift of the artist. 



intended as a caricature, the representation evokes contemporaneous abstract 
human forms in which lines have been reduced to a minimum, such as Stepanova's 
unisex, degendered stick figures. True, Stepanova's reductionism derived from the 
avant-garde's quest for a universal common denominator — the human machine in 
motion — but there is still a bond between her stick figures and Radakov's depic- 
tion of Rubinstein. 

There are also two nude portraits of Rubinstein by Rrooks. The better-known 
one, entitled Le Trajet (The Voyage), ca. 1911 (fig. 20), depicts an emaciated white 
female corpse lying prone on what appears to be a bed, against a black backdrop. It 
is an androgynous and almost abstract representation of the Decadent dead 
woman, a figure whose power was fetishized during the fin de siecle. Even though 
women are sometimes "deformed" in Cubist representations, the female corpse as 
an emblem of power was not the subtext of these works. 

Rubinstein's charisma was based not only on her sepulchral image and her 
androgynous roles. 3 ? She was also a woman of high fashion who displayed and 
advertised leading couturiers' dresses. In 1913, for example, she appeared on the 
cover of the French theater and fashion magazine Comoedia Rlustre wearing a beau- 
tiful Worth gown (fig. 21). According to the Russian-born couturier Erte [Roman 
deTirtoff]. Rubinstein launched the 1913 vogue for "walking slinkily a la leopard" 
after her appearance in D'Annunzio's La Pisanella. in which she "walked a leopard 
on a long chain." 3o Writers and artists at the turn of the century perceived women's 
fascination with wild cats as an expression of the femme-fatale's beastliness. 

Even though the incarnation of Rubinstein as a cross-gendered exotic figure 
was accomplished primarily by male stage and fashion designers, the impetus for 
these representations came from her. She selected the artists with whom she 
worked, and financed productions with the ultimate goal of staging her provocative 
androgynous persona. She was an artiste fashioning her own success. Her image of 
an exotic, elegantly dressed femme fatale was an emblematic female construction 



86 



OLca mancH 




figure 21 ■ De la Gandara's portrait of 
Ida Rubinstein, reproduced on the 
front cover of Comoedia Rlustre (Paris) . 
no. 18 (June 20. 1913). 



of the time, and her liberating figure could not have gone unnoticed by women 
artists such as Goncharova and Rozanova. 

Graphic artist Elizaveta Sergeevna Kruglikova is considerably less known than 
Gippius or Rubinstein. Her self- representation in art and in life was androgynous 
as well, but in contrast to these other two women's seductive, albeit phallic, per- 
sonas, hers was self-consciously mannish. 3 ' A professional New Woman, 
Kruglikova represented a different aspect of female sexual anarchy. Cross-dress- 
ing in her case lacked a spiritual or titillating subtext: rather, it was a sign of les- 
bianism and followed the conventions of a "butch" code, which included smoking. 
Anna Petrovna Ostroumova-Lebedeva (1871—1944), an important member of the 
World of Art group as a painter and graphic artist, 32 painted Kruglikova in 1925, 
showing her dressed in work clothes and holding a cigarette. True, the portrait was 
painted after the Revolution, at a time when Stepanova and other women were rep- 
resented at work and smoking. We can conclude that Kruglikova's sexual identity 
was less slippery than Gippius's or Rubinstein's; furthermore, unlike Gippius, she 
did not hide her lesbian orientation, and, unlike Rubinstein, she was not an exhi- 
bitionist. Kruglikova's masculine style included participation in male sports, such 
as long-distance cycling and mountain climbing. Benois described the artist and 
her girlfriend, Mademoiselle Sellier, cyclingfrom Paris to Brittany around 1905, 
wearing special cyclist trousers that were still considered to be rather shocking in 
provincial France. 33 



87 



cenDer TrouBLe in THe amazonian KinGDom 



H 1 fr£Bk ^^ W^ 


ff^ 




s— SHT.—J^^^J Jm 




7 cJMHHDl 


LuTXI 




wir ^* 



figure 22. 

eLizaveTa KruGLiicova 

Printing an Etching. Self- Portrait, 1915 
Linocut, 9.6x16 cm 
State Russian Museum, 
St. Petersburg 



Kruglikova went to Paris to study, as did many of her contemporaries (includ- 
ingyounger avant-garde women artists such as Liubov Popova and Nadezhda 
Udaltsova, who went in 1912). Kruglikova arrived in Paris in 1895 and had her first 
solo exhibition there only seven years later. She shared a studio with another 
Russian artist, Alexandra Davidenko, in Montparnasse, which was an important 
gathering place for Russian and French bohemian artists. The creator of masterful 
monotype engravings and silhouettes, 3 * Kruglikova made many self-portraits, the 
best of which— executed in profile — display the process of work. Like her younger 
avant-garde sisters Popova and Stepanova. Kruglikova worked in the sphere of 
mass culture at the newspaper Novoe vremia (New Time), which was widely read at 
the turn of the century. In a painted self-portrait of 1906, Kruglikova represents 
herself bent over a machine tool, wearing the large masculine gloves used by work- 
ers during the printing process. A 1915 engraving shows her printing an etching 
(fig. zz) , an image of female physical labor that would serve as a prototype for the 
Soviet redefinition of women's work. (Kruglikova's 1923 propaganda poster for 
women's literacy was a well-known example of early Soviet agitprop. ) 3 5 Similarly. 
Popova and Stepanova designed working clothes in a unisexual, Constructivist 
mode in the early 1920s (see fig. 75). Stepanova was known for her unisex sports 
costumes that transformed the body by means of the dynamic use of geometric 
design, while her self- caricature The Constructor Stepanova. 192?, represents a 
strong, mannish figure wearing a dress. Goncharova also portrayed women (and 
men) at work, although these tend to be peasants, not industrial workers. 

Kruglikova made portraits of other new women. For example, around 1915, she 
made a silhouette of Nadezhda Dobychina, owner of the celebrated St. Petersburg 
Art Rureau and sponsor of avant-garde exhibitions, including Goncharova's one- 
woman exhibition of 1914 and o. jo the following year. Thus many works by Exter, 
Goncharova, Popova, Rozanova, and Udaltsova passed through her hands. 



88 



oixa mancH 



Kruglikova's image of Dobychina shows her scrutinizing a painting on an easel, 
hands in her pockets with a cigarette between her lips. It is a masculinized image 
focusing on the subject's professional life, which is typically rendered by means 
of conventional male props. 

Kruglikova's strongest artworks are her black silhouettes against white back- 
grounds. Her self-portraits in this mode evoke the fin-de-siecle figure of the 
Wildean dandy. She presented herself dressed in a frock coat, elaborate dress 
shirt, and bow tie; her hair is bobbed, and the profile masks her gender. Unlike 
the engravings that picture her at work, the self- representations as a dandy aes- 
theticize her mannishness. In a silhouette of 1921 , which seems late in its allusion 
to the figure of the dandy. Kruglikova depicted herself cutting out a silhouette 
surrounded by the tools of her trade, a long- established convention of artists' 
self- representation that was appropriated widely by both male and female artists. 36 
Udaltsova's Cubist Self- Portrait with Palette, 1915 (plate 80), for example, also 
represents the artist with her professional tools. 

The form of the silhouette revived at the turn of the century differs from its 
late-eighteenth-century model in that it features men and women in profile 
instead of the conventional realist en face. The emphasis on the profile — and the 
silhouette — had historical forebears in ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art. 
Miriskusstva, which was launched in 1898, not only featured silhouettes, but also 
Egyptomania and a fascination with ancient Greek beauty. The preference for pro- 
file or frontal representation in any era depends on the conception of individual 
character that predominates at that time. The art of stylization typically has little 
interest in the more intimate individualized frontal portrait. For example, 
Pisanello's and Boticelli's fifteenth-century profile portraits of young women, 
with their unusually long necks and tautly pulled-back hair, express a distant styl- 
ized beauty, reflecting the profile's inherent remoteness and affinity to abstract 
figurative design. With the increase of psychological portraiture during the High 
Renaissance, artists began to paint their models in three-quarter view and later 
in full face. 3 ? In full-length female nudes painted en face, the subjects assumed the 
power of the gaze, staring provocatively at the viewer. Frontal representations of 
women were characteristic also of the second half of the nineteenth century, and 
the powerful female gaze left traces in works produced by the avant-garde, includ- 
ing Goncharova's Self -Portrait with Yellow Lilies, 1907 (plate i3) . Although the 
androgynous face in Stepanova's Neo-PrimitivistSeif- Portrait. 1930 (plate 71), 
looks angrily at the viewer, its source is not the fin-de-siecle image of female 
power, but rather the African mask. 

After the prevalence of frontal views in the nineteenth century, the profile 
reemerged at the end of the century in stylized, rather than psychological, portraits 
in both painting and photography. In the context of an age that liberated women 

89 



cenDer TrouBLe in THe amazonian KinCDom 



and emphasized nonprocreative sexual indeterminacy, the facial profile offered 
women more possibilities of crossing the strictures of gender boundaries. This was 
especially true if the subject had what is called a strong profile, and Rubinstein, 
Gippius. and Kruglikova all did. Avant-garde artists continued the fashion for pro- 
file views, especially in Cubist representations, such as Popova's Lady with Guitar, 
1915 (plate 32). 

While the avant-garde's break with Symbolism was radical, marking a point of 
rupture, the production of the six women artists in this exhibition does not neces- 
sarily reflect a total break with the past. Several of them, including Rozanova, 
began as Symbolists, before quickly turning to Cubism and geometric abstraction; 
even Stepanova, the most "un- Decadent" of the six artists, was known to express 
herself in a Beardsleyian or Decadent style. 3 9 Exter, Popova, and Stepanova all 
designed stylish dresses and hats for women, not just unisexual workers' garments 
and sports clothes, and Goncharova designed gowns for Nadezhda Lamanova. 
Moscow's queen of haute couture, and lavish sets for the Ballets Russes. Although 
these examples represent only fragments of their work, they reflect the fact that 
these radical Amazons also expressed themselves in the fashionable artistic mode 
of the turn of the century. Yet while the figurative paintings of these six artists can 
certainly be considered androgynous, they are not gender-bending; they do not 
reveal the same kind of gender destabilization as do the lives and works of the 
three women discussed in this essay. Furthermore, the work of Exter, Goncharova, 
Popova, Rozanova. Stepanova, and Udaltsova does not display the characteristic 
fin-de-siecle ambivalence toward the problematized female body. 

1. Elaine Showalter, Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin de Steele (New York: Viking. 1990). 
3. Max Nordau, Degeneration (New York: Howard Fertig, 1968). The German original, Entartung, 
appeared in 189a: it was first translated into English in 1895. 

3. For the Russian notion of the androgynous ideal, see Olga Matich. "Androgyny and the Russian 
Religious Renaissance," inAnthony Mlikotin. ed.. Western Philosophical Systems in Russian 
Literature (Los Angeles: University of Southern California, n.d.). pp. 165-76. 

4. The novels of her husband, Draitrii Merezhkovsky. especially The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci 
(1901), were very popular throughout Europe. Merezhkovsky's Leonardo was the main source of 
Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic essay on the artist. 

5. Andrei Bely wrote Petersburg (1915), considered the most important novel of early Russian 
Modernism. 

6. Alexander Lavrov, ed.,.4ndrei. Bely: "Nachalo veka" (Moscow: Khudozhestvennaia literatura, 
1990), p. 194. 

7. I. Briusova and N. Ashukin. eds., Valera Briusov. "Dnevniki 1S91— 1910" (Moscow: Sytnikov, 1927). 
p. 109. 

8. For a discussion of the Cleopatra myth in Russian culture, especially as embodied by Gippius, see 
Olga Matich, "Zinaida Gippius' Personal Myth," in Boris Gasparov. Robert P. Hughes, and Irma 
Paperno, eds., Cultural Mythologies of Russian Modernism: From the Golden Age to the Silver Age 



90 



OLGa mancH 



(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992). pp. 52— 72. There is a curious parallel herewith a 
photograph of the poet Anna Akhmatova in which, adopting a "Cleopatra" pose, she lies serpent - 
like on a divan; for a reproduction, see Krystyna Rubinger, ed.,Kiinsterlerinnen derrussischen 
Avantgarde, ;aio-;a3o (Cologne: Galerie Gmuszynsk. 1979). p. 15. 

9. Havelock Ellis, "Sexual Inversion in Women," in Alienist and Neurologist (St. Louis: 1895), vol. 18, 
no. 2, pp. 152-54; as quoted in Marjorie Garber, Vested Interests-. Cross -Dressing and Cultural 
Anxiety (New York: Routledge, 1992), p. 155. 

10. In a late-nineteenth-century photographic self-portrait, the American Frances Benjamin 
Johnston "posed herself in a 'male' manner. [Sitting in profile,] elbow out, mannish cap on her 
head, tankard in one hand and cigarette in the other, she leans forward with the calf of one leg 
resting on the thigh of the other" (Frances Borzello, Seeing Ourselves: Women's Self- Portraits 
[London: Abrams, 1998], p. 115). A cigarette figures prominently in a photograph by Paul Nadar 
of the elegantly dressed, liberated Lucie Delarue-Mardus, lover of Natalie Barbey and member 
of the prewar sisterhood of Europe's gender-benders. (See William Howard Adams, AProust 
Souvenir: Period Photographs by Paul Nadar [New York: TheVendome Press, 1984], p. 121.) 

11. IgumenAndronikand M. Trubachev, eds., Pavel Florensky. "Analizprostranstvennostiivremeni 
vkhudozhestvenno-izobrazitelnykhproizvedemiakh" (Moscow: Progress, 1993), pp. 146—71. 

12. Bakst's portrait of Gippius, which was commissioned by Nikolai Riabushinsky, publisher of the 
Symbolist journal Zolotoe runo (Golden Fleece) and one of the first collectors of the early avant- 
garde, was displayed in Paris and London and at a controversial exhibition of women's portraits 
sponsored by the journaMpoUon (Apollo) that was held in St. Petersburg in 1910. 

i3. John E. Bowlt, The Silver Age: Russian Art of the EarlyTwentieth Century andthe "World of Art" Group 
(Newtonville. Mass.: Oriental Research Partners, 1982), pp. 223—24- 

14. Within the lesbian beau monde of Paris, such well-known artists and writers as the Marquise 
de Belbeuf, Romaine Brooks, Radclyffe Hall, and UnaTroubridge dressed in high transvestite 
(or dandy) style; the latter two even sported a monocle. In London, Vita Sackville-West also fash- 
ioned herself as a dandy. 

15. A self-styled dandy who loved artifice, Bakst was infatuated with Gippius and her heady theology 
of sex. Asa teacher or as a colleague, he was in touch with many of the members of the avant- 
garde, and his sensual designs for Sergei Diaghilev's production of Cleopatre, performed by the 
Ballets Russes in Paris in 1909, surely informed Exter's sets and costumes for Alexander Tairov's 
production of Salome in Petrograd in 1917. 

16. Zinaida Gippius, "Contesd'amour," inTemira Pachmuss, ed., Between Paris and St. Petersburg-. 
Selected Diaries of Zinaida Hippius (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975), p. 77. 

17. Ibid., p. 74. 

18. Like Gippius, Romaine Brooks did not consummate her marriage. She entered into a "white" 
marriage with John Ellingham Brooks, a homosexual dilettante pianist. During the 1910s, she 
developed an amorous relationship with American artist Natalie Clifford Barney, which lasted 
until Brooks's death. Similar marital arrangements characterized the personal lives of the 
Bloomsbury group. 

19. Carl Schorske, Fin-de-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture (New York: Vintage Books, 1981), p. 224. 

20. Diaghilev's ballet was first performed in St. Petersburg in 1908. It was revised and renamed for 
the Paris performance, although there is some debate over the original title. Some scholars 
believe that it was titled Une Nuit d 'Egypte and was based on an 1 845 story of the same name by 
Theophile Gautier, while others claim that it was titled Egyptian Nights and was based on 
Pushkin's unfinished eponymous society tale of the i83os. Emblematic of the Cleopatra myth in 



9' 



cenuer irouBLe in THe amazonian KinoDom 



Russian culture, in both stories the Egyptian queen offers to exchange anight of love for a young 
man's life. Both texts were revived at the turn of the century-, they fascinated not only ballet 
artists but also Russian Symbolist poet Valerii Briusov, who completed Pushkin's Egyptian Nights 
by rendering the tale inverse. For a discussion of Cleopatre in the context of the Ballets Russes 
and its history, see Deborah Jowitt, "The Veils of Salome," in Time and Dancing Image (New York: 
William Morrow, 1988), pp. 105-15. 

21. JeanCocteau, "Cleopatre," in Arsene Alexandre, ed., The Decorative Art of Leon Bakst (New York: 
Dover, 197a), pp. 29—80. This is a reprint of an exhibition catalogue originally published by 
the Fine Art Society of London in 1913, which features Bakst's ballet designs and commentary 
by Cocteau. 

22. "Na generalnoi repetitsii," Birzhevye vedomosti (St. Petersburg), October 28, 1906, p. 3 ("Okolo 
rampy" [title of newspaper column]). 

23. M. Veikone, "Teatr Komissarzhevskoi," Teatr i iskusstvo (St. Petersburg), no. 44 (1908), p. 764. 

24. Evreinov published a monograph on Beardsley in 1912. 

25. VasiliiR., "Na gneralnoi repetitsii 'Tsarevny, '" Birzhevye vedomosti , October 28, 1908, p. 3 
("Okolo rampy"). 

26. Nikita Lobanov- Rostovsky, "A Bargain on Marche aux Puces: The Pictures of Nicolai Kalmakov," 
in A. Flegon, Eroticism in Russian Art (London: Flegon Press, 1976), p. 3o6. (Lobanov- Rostovsky 
is a major collector of Russian stage design [1900-1930] .) 

27. Prince Peter Lieven, The Birth of Ballets -Russes (London: Allen and Urwin: 1936, p. 97). 
Rozanova's Amazonian Queen of Spades, from her Playing Cards series, is similarly evocative of 
representations of women in Egyptian art-, the Queen's head appears in profile, while her body is 
portrayed frontally. The queen of spades as the female symbol of demonic evil power in Russian 
cultural mythology dates to Pushkin's eponymous novella of i833. 

28. Natalia Alexandrova, ed.,AlexandrBenua: Moi vospommaniia (Moscow: Nauka, 1990), vol. 2, 
p. 471. 

29. Rubinstein's most overtly androgynous role was that of St. Sebastian in D'Annunzio's The 
Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian (1911). 

30. Quoted in Michael de Cossart, Ida Rubinstein (1885-10.60): A Theatrical Life (Liverpool: Liverpool 
University Press, 1987), p. 57. 

3i. There were also more conventional models of femininity at the turn of the century. For example, 
Olga Glebova-Sudeikina, a charming and graceful actress, artist, and poet, performed unam- 
biguously feminine/female roles on the stage and in St. Petersburg cabarets, where she is 
reputed to have danced provocatively on tables. She also made beautiful embroideries. Art 
Nouveau puppets, and fine ceramic statuettes. Glebova married artist Sergei Sudeikin, who 
designed the sets and costumes for Diaghilev's production of The Tragedy of Salome in Paris in 
1913. Sudeikin was bisexual: his most important homosexual affair was with poet Mikhail 
Kuzmin, who styled himself as a dandy and wore makeup. Later Glebova participated in another 
homoerotic triangle, with Kuzmin and Vsevolod Kniazev. It was also rumored that she had an 
amorous relationship with Akhmatova. This kind of overlapping bisexual triangulation was 
characteristic of erotic life in the Petersburg hothouse at the turn of the century. On Glebova- 
Sudeikina, Sudeikin, and their friends, see John E. Bowlt, ed., The Salon Album of Vera Sudeikin - 
Stravinsky (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990). 

32. In her time, Ostroumova-Lebedeva was the most important female member of the World of Art 
association. She was close to the group's journal, Mir iskusstva. She was one of its retrospectivists 
that reappropriated the images of eighteenth-century St. Petersburg. For information on 



9« 



OLca maTicH 



Ostroumova-Lebedeva, see Mikhail Kiselev, GrafikaA. P. Ostroumovoi-Lebedevoi (Moscow: 
Iskusstvo, 1984), and Elena Poliakova, Gorod Ostroumovoi-Lebedevoi (Moscow: Sovetskii khudozh- 
nik, 1983). 

33. See Alexandrova, ed., Alexandr Benua, vol. 2, p. 433. 

34. See Alexandre Benois, introduction in Parizh nakanune voiny v monotipiiakh E. S. Kruglkovoi 
(Petrograd: Union, 1918). The book includes poems about Paris by Viaeheslav Ivanov, Fedor 
Sologub, and Kruglikova's close friends Konstantin Balmont and Maximilian Voloshin. It was 
rumored that at one time Kruglikova was in love with the androgynous Voloshin. On Kruglikova. 
see Petr Kornilov, comp., Elizaveta Sergeevna Kruglikova. Zhizn i tvorchestvo. Sbornik (Leningrad: 
Khudozhnik RSFSR, 1969), and E. Grishina, E. S. Kruglikova (Leningrad: Khudozhnik RSFSR. 
1989). 

35. On female images in Soviet poster art. see Victoria Bonnell, Iconography of Power: Soviet Political 
Posters under Lenin and Stalin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997). pp. 65—185. 

36. See, for example, the self-portraits by Mariia Bashkirtseva. Born in Russia, Bashkirtseva studied 
and worked in France; she died in 1884 at the age of twenty-six. See Colette Cosnier, Marie 
Bashkirtseff. Un portrait sans retouches (Paris: Horay, 1985), and Journal de Marie Bashkirtseff 
(Paris: Mazarine, 1980). 

37. Atechnical explanation forthe early Renaissance preference forthe profile is also possible, 
which suggests that painting naturalistic representations of the frontal view, especially of the 
model looking out at the viewer, was simply too difficult at the time. 

38. S. Stepanova, "The Poetics of Creativity," in Alexander Lavrentiev and John E. Bowlt, Varvara 
Stepanova: The Complete Work (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1988), pp. 14-17. 



9 3 







figure 23. Alexandra Khokhlova modeling a dress designed 
by Nadezhda Lamanova, ca. 1934. 



DressinGUPanD 
DressmGDOwri: 

THe BODYOFTHe 

avanT-GarDe 



nicoLCTTa miSLer 



The paintings of the Russian avant-garde's women artists include numerous 
images of objects and tools. While these images may be strategically masked in 
Cubist disassembling and dislocation or in the alogical fragmentation and dissoci- 
ation of zaum (transrational language), they remind us that these protagonists 
did not completely renounce their female occupations or the particularly female 
creativity that such occupations entail. 

For example, the hated/beloved sewing machine is the emphatic presence in 
Nadezhda Udaltsova's Cubist work Seamstress, 1912—13 (plate 74). while the spools 
of thread, fabric remnants, lace, and trinkets that a good housewife would never 
throw away grace Olga Rozanova's near- Sup rematist Work Box, 1915 (fig. 66). The 
loom figures prominently in Natalia Goncharova's The Weaver (Loom + Woman), 
1915-13 (plate 2,1). although in this case it indicates an escape from the four walls 
of domesticity, toward a Futurist machine. According to Alexander Lavrentiev, 
Varvara Stepanova. despite her loud statements in support of industrial garments, 
loved to sew her own clothes and would occasionally assume the classic female 
role, sewing the revolutionary overalls designed by her husband. Alexander 
Rodchenko. The same Stepanova who filled her canvases with severe robotic man- 
nequins plays coyly with a string of pearls (the quintessence of the bourgeois ladv) 
in photographs taken by Rodchenko in 1928 (see fig. 24). 

These Amazons — so revolutionary in their art and politics — did not wish to 
give up embroideries or purses and evening bags (the most feminine of objects). 



95 




figure 24. Varvara Stepanova, photographed by 
Alexander Rodchenko. 1928. 

In fact, some of Stepanova's handbags, along with many of her other personal 
items, have been kept religiously by her family. At least one of Alexandra Exter's 
handbags has also survived, despite the vicissitudes of revolution and emigration. 
Rozanova made several designs for Futurist handbags, as did Udaltsova and Ksenia 
Boguslavskaia, wife of IvanPuni (see fig. 25). 1 In the collage entitled Toilette, 
1914—15 (fig. 26), Boguslavskaia assembled dressing-table objects, includinga 
powder compact, cuttings from fashion magazines, and a medicine bottle, rather 
as Rozanova did in the interior of Work Box. Although Liubov Popova does not seem 
to have fallen into the temptation of creating a Suprematist evening bag for herself, 
she did have a weakness for female bric-a-brac; this is manifest in the colored 
feathers and gloves of Subject from a Dyer's Shop, 1914 (fig. 27). Popova also carved 
out her own modest feminine territory with the Suprematist embroidery designs 
that she made forthe Verbovka women's enterprise. 2 But male avant-garde artists, 
from Malevichto Puni, also designed or made handbags and embroideries. 3 
Malevich said: "My mother used to do different kinds of embroidery and lace - 
making. I learned that art from her and also did embroidery and crochet."* 

Handbags are not only symbolic autonomous objects but are also accessories, 
and nearly all the women artists who concern us here designed fashionable cos- 
tumes and clothing. For example, in her 1913 Moscow retrospective, Goncharova 
showed numerous contemporary costume and embroidery designs, some of 
which couturier Nadezhda Lamanova acquired for her fashion salon. Exter theo- 
rized about the significance of contemporary dress, 5 and Popova and Stepanova 
tried to explain the meaning and purpose of the prozodezhda (overalls for specific 
activities such as sports or the theater). 6 But, again, costume theory and design 
were not restricted to women, for even the philosopher Pavel Florensky hastened 
to emphasize the importance of women's fashion: "Ladies' fashions are one of 
the most subtle regents of any culture. It is enough just to glance at a woman's 
dress, to understand the dominant spirit and tone of the entire culture in which 
such a fashion is permissible."'? 

96 





far left: 

figure 25. Scarf, handbag (?). and pillow 
designed by Ksenia Boguslavskaia at the 
World of Art exhibition, Petrograd, 1916. 

figure 26. Ksenia BOGUSLavsKaia 

Toilette. 1914—15 (destroyed) 

Oil and collage on canvas, 42 x 33 cm 



From a practical point of view, male avant-garde artists also had something 
to say about the new clothing— from Vladimir Tatlin's mass-produced garments 8 
to Rodchenko's overalls. Ippolit Sokolov, radical advocate of the Constructivist 
movement and its clothing, declared unambiguously that the "style of the U.S.S.R. 
is the straight line!" Emil Mindlin observed that the new style was an arrangement 
of horizontal and vertical lines, like the architecture of the Parthenon, and thus the 
collarless peasant shirt (tolstovka) promoted by Constructivist designers could, in 
fact, be regarded as a new Parthenon. 9 This reductionist statement, a broader indi- 
cation of the puritanism and asceticism that pervaded post- Revolutionary avant- 
garde ideology, was the extreme result of the obvious repression of the body and 
its physiological functions, which can be identified with the later avant-garde. 10 
Strangely enough, this was even more evident in the female contingent of the 
avant-garde. Certainly, they did not reject their everyday female identity, as we 
can sense from their cult of the evening bag and the dressing table, but the very 
essence of female identity — the recognition and depiction of the female body — 
engendered ambiguous and by no means homogeneous interpretations. In fact, 
the female body seemed to disappear within the spacious, if clumsy, geometric 
volumes of the new style, at least in the case of Exter, Popova, and Stepanova. 

Awareness of the body is awareness of one's own body, and if we look at our six 
Amazons, we see that at least four of them (excluding the tall, thin Goncharova and 
the petite Rozanova) could hardly have been reduced to the movement of a single 
line. Rather, their solid, squarish bodies were compatible with the radical simpli- 
fication of the prozodezhda, designs that almost banished sexuality and eroticism. 
In Popova's Composition with Figures, 1913 (plate 28), the solid, tubular figures 
resemble Popova herself, whose female form seemed to presage the ideal Soviet 
female body, in opposition to the androgynous silhouette of the Symbolist hero- 
ines. Popova's Portrait of a Lady (Plastic Design), 1915, presents an image so scarcely 
female that it seems to be a direct extension of the jug in her Jug on Table. Plastic 
Painting of the same year ( plate 34) . 



97 



THe body of THe avanT-carDe 




figure 27. UUBOV POPOVa 

Subject from, a Dyer's Shop, 1914 

Oil on canvas, 71 x 89 cm 

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 

The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation 



98 



nicoLeTTa misLer 



The parenthetical denotation of "plastic" in the title of Popova's work brings 
to mind the plastic dance (plastika) so popular in Moscow at that time, a form of 
dance that, through its promotion of the liberation of the body, elicited a positive 
response among the female population. What was the relationship between this 
kind of artistic expression — plastic dance — which is female in essence, and the 
painters in our exhibition, whose oeuvres, incidentally, contain many references 
to dance and who often worked as set and costume designers for the performing 
arts? Good Amazons all, they removed this feminine plasticity from their dis- 
course in order to concentrate on the more austere battle for new form; and if they 
did concern themselves with dance and movement, it was a robotic or eccentric 
dance to which they turned. The spare mannequins in Stepanova's Dancing Figures 
on White, 1920 (plate 65) and Five Figures on a White Background, 1920 (plate 66) 
are the antithesis of soft or acrobatic, nude plastic dancing, which achieved its 
widest popularity just after the Revolution, and they were painted just before the 
cult of nudity onstage and in dance that took place in Moscow in 1922. This was the 
year in which the demonstrations Evenings of the Denuded Body, directed by Yurii 
Ars," and Evenings of the Liberated Body, directed by Lev Lukin, were performed. It 
was also the year of Kasian Goleizovsky's manifesto of the naked body onstage 12 and 
his production of The Faun, in which Boris Erdman reduced the costumes to short 
skirts and loincloths with fringes.' 3 

But the Amazonian reaction to Goleizovsky's presentation was prudish, if 
not restrained. Popova, for example, avoided the hot issue of The Faun's nudity 
altogether: "After all, how truer is the equipment and deckwork of the crew of a 
warship. . . . Why do the Pierrots gesticulate and pose under red lamps (as in 
Goleizovsky's set)?" '4 In contrast, the critical reactions for and against these 
manifestations of performance nudity were more explicit: "Eroticism or 
Pornography?" and "This Pornography Must Stop!" are among the titles of such 
articles. Indeed, the body that seemed to epitomize sensuality in early Soviet dance 
was not the female body, but, above all, the abstractly elegant male body of the 
dancer and mime Alexander Rumnev, in all its provocative homosexual beauty. '5 
Rumnev's elongated lines, emphasized by the muscular stretching of his angular 
poses, also became the preferred subject of the celebrated photographers of the 
time, including Nikolai Svishchev-Paola, who forced his model into statuary poses 
and excruciating contortions.' 6 The vociferous complaints in the Soviet press 
about pornography and the free dance of naked bodies replicated criticisms 
directed at Goncharova a decade before. In her primitive nudes, such as Pillars of 
Salt, 1908 (plate 15), Goncharova expelled the eroticism of the fin-de-siecle plas- 
tic dancers with their Dionysian ecstasies, but the censors now saw an exposition 
of the darkest, most disturbing and aesthetically disagreeable aspects of feminin- 
ity: procreation and the female power that this expresses. '? 



99 



thc body of THe avanT-carDe 




figure 29. Itta Penzo in Joseph the Beautiful, 1926, 
photographed by Nikolai Vlasievsky. 



nicoLeiTa misLer 



Curiously enough, the feminine -homosexual body that the Free Dance of the 
1930s manifested onstage was in sharp contrast to the image of the new, maternal 
Soviet woman that coalesced in monumental forms in painting, sculpture, and 
costume design. This contrast was reflected in the avant-garde's puritanical nega- 
tion of the body as an erotic instrument, so different from the explicit exhibition- 
ism of the nude dancers of the 1930s. The latter flaunted a decadence that derived 
from the Symbolist era, summarized in Valentin Serov's nude portrait of the her- 
maphroditic Ida Rubinstein (fig. 18). l8 Florensky, in his interpretation of the 
archaeological statuette of the Knossos Snake Charmer as a Symbolist femme 
fatale, seems to have had in mind the icon of the naked Rubinstein with green 
cloth coiling like a serpent around her slender ankle: "On the dancer's neck is a 
collar. . . . Two intertwined snakes form her belt, the head of one in front of her 
body and its tail around her right ear. The head of a third snake rises above the 
tiara. Rut fear not, these are imaginary terrors, no more terrifying than ladies' 
boas, muffs, and winter hats trimmed with the snarling jaws of polecats and other 
wild beasts. ... I fancy the snakes of our bayaderes are equally harmless."' 9 In the 
same essay, Florensky juxtaposed the snake charmer with another archaeological 
image, the pagan Russian stone maiden (kamennaia baba), which Goncharova had 
accepted as an artistic and ideological model of femininity for her primitive 
"pornographic" paintings. 30 For Goncharova, the square, three-dimensional stone 
maidens were images of female fertility, engrossed in their lapidary bodies and 
deprived of any appeal (sex appeal, in particular) toward the external world.- 1 The 
naked bodies of these statues carry a clear physical charge, but it is the physicality 
of procreation, not of eroticism and seduction. 

Rubinstein was not the only woman in fin-de-siecle Russia, of both the bour- 
geoisie and the intelligentsia, who wished to free herself from her clothing and 
reappropriate her body. Isadora Duncan's early performances in Moscow and 
St. Petersburg, beginning" in 1904, had a lasting effect on this movement, particu- 
larly after the opening of her school in Moscow in October 1931 . Duncan not only 
freed the feet of dancers from the constrictions of ballet shoes (resulting in the 
Russian name for her young followers, bosonozhki — literally, barefoot ones), but 
she also loosened their corsets and their female forms. The dancer Olga Desmond 
also introduced the concept of total nudity in her Evenings of Beauty in 1908, — 
albeit without the artistic legitimacy of Duncan's references to the classical world. 
In 1911, playwright and theater director Nikolai Evreinov defended the importance 
of artistic nudity in an illustrated book, Nagota na stsene (Nudity on Stage), and in 
1933 advocated the feminine game of fashion in the magazine Atelie (Atelier), 
praising the significance of chic, which he claimed distinguished a Parisienne 
from a lady of Rerlin or Petrograd.* 3 

Duncan surrounded herself with young girls dressed in short tunics, seeking 



thc body of THe avanT-carDe 



in their childlike spontaneity a primitive, inner expressiveness. Her interest coin- 
cided with analogous research being conducted immediately after the Revolution, 
not in the field of dance, but in the area of infantile sexuality. '-+ These studies took 
place in the Nursery Laboratory, established in May 1921 within the Department of 
Psychology of the State Psycho -Neurological Institute in Moscow (where art histo- 
rianAlexei Sidorov directed a Department of Experimental Aesthetics). 2 S The 
Institute became the nucleus of Ivan Ermakov's Psychoanalytic Institute, founded 
the following year. Indeed, the birth of psychoanalysis in Russia is closely linked 
with the new approach to the visual arts encompassing experimental dance — and 
thus corporeal expression and communication — as well as the philosophy of art 
and "pure visibility." Vasily Kandinsky was one of the promoters of this new aes- 
thetic, which took into account the "inexpressible" disturbances of the psyche. 
Stepanova seems to have been acknowledging Kandinsky's notion of the spiritual 
in art when she stated, "As yet non-objective creativity is just the dawning of a 
great new epoch, of a time of great creativity hitherto unseen, destined to open the 
doors to mysteries more profound than science and technology." 26 

On the basis of these different but converging fields of interest, the body in its 
psychophysical entirety became the subject of a complex interdisciplinary line of 
research undertaken by Kandinsky before he emigrated from Russia in 1921. He 
approached the body as an entity capable of communicating or expressing inner 
emotions, like a living artifact, in all its beauty, male and female. A primary advo- 
cate of this approach was Sidorov, who studied both dance and the graphic work 
of German Expressionism, an art movement with which he wished to associate the 
work of Exter and Rozanova. 2 ? He wrote: "In painting— our eye; in music — our ear; 
in architecture — our perception of space; in dance — the body is the material of 
art. Precisely the body in and of itself. . . . Recause it is in the body that analysis 
must be rooted, at least starting with the problem of the role of costume and nudity 
in the art of dance." 28 

The complex dialectic of dressed/undressed left a deep imprint on current 
ideas about Russian costume, both for the stage and for everyday, and the subject 
was a favorite topic of discussion, particularly among critics of a more Symbolist 
persuasion. Sidorov, who considered the "naked body to be the static principle of 
dance," 29 concluded that "we are for nudity onstage," because nudity allowed the 
public to decodify a living mechanism in the movement of even the slightest mus- 
cle, which is why he felt that the costume ought to be reduced to body makeup. 30 
Still, the erotic "body as such" is absent from the work of the six women artists in 
this exhibition, both before and after the Revolution, even if they did have some- 
thing to say about body makeup. Goncharova gave an audacious performance in 
the movie Drama in the Futurists' Cabaret No. i3, 1913, appearing with her breasts 
and face painted, and Exter decorated the bodies of the dancers in a 1935 ballet in 




figure 3o. aLexanDra exTer 

Set design for Dramballet Studio's unrealized 
production of Alexander Skriabin's Ballet Satanique, 1932 
Gouache and pencil on paper. 48.7 x 55.1 cm 
Bakhrushin State Theater Museum, Moscow 



"epidermic costumes." "Strip away the colored rags that are called costumes from 
the dancer, rags that until now have had only aesthetic significance," urged one 
critic. "Rejecting aestheticism, we also reject costumes of this type. We must dress 
the dancer in overalls, which allow the body to move freely." 3l Alternative stan- 
dards of dress were also represented by Stepanova's functional and unsexy sports 
tunics (sportodezhda) , Popova's very proper summer dresses and autumn coats, 
and the uniform bodysuits that Exter designed for the unrealized Ballet Satanique 
in 19?? (fig. 3o). 

Exter was very concerned with the body and its costume, whether for dance, 
theater, or informal wear. Disregarding the erotic aspect of clothing, she was 
always mindful of rhythm and movement: "Materials that give, for example, any 
type of silk . . . make it possible to create garments for movements (i.e., for dance) 
and to devise more complicated shapes (circles, polygons). This type of costume 
'constructed' on the dynamic movement of the body, must itself be 'mobile' in its 
components." 3a Exter applied her theory to the sets and costumes she designed for 



io3 



THe body of in e a\ aiiT-GarDe 




figure 3i.LIUBOVPOPOVa 

Woman in a Yashmak, 1922 

Costume design for Vsevolod Meierkhold's unrealized 

production of S. Polivanov's 77ie Priest ofTarquinia, 1922 

Pencil on paper, 35.1 x 22 cm 

Private collection, Moscow 



the Chamber Theater in Moscow, especially for the 1921 production of Romeo and 
Juliet (see fig. 8). The form of the body, male or female, vanished in the "Cubo- 
Baroque" volutes of her costumes. 33 This was also true of Popova's sets and cos- 
tumes for her own Romeo and Juliet project in 1930, and even more so for the 
unstaged Priest ofTarquinia the following year, where the female figures were swal- 
lowed up by the dynamic folds of theirveils (fig. 3i). 

Exter, Popova, and Stepanova, in particular, all favored a neutral approach to 
the body, which is linked to Constructivism and to their support of biomechanics, 
whereby the human body is a tool to be disciplined on the basis of rhythmic- 
mechanical criteria. For Constructivist theoretician Alexei Gan, husband of film- 
maker Esfir Shub, the human body had to become a total technological tool. 3 + The 
primary model chosen to interpret his Constructivist movements was the actress 
Alexandra Khokhlova, whose long, thin body gave her top model status (Lamanova 
hired her to model clothes) (see fig. ?3) and fascinated Rodchenko, who captured 
her image in the 1926 film Hie Journalist. 3 ^ Gan's biomechanical interpretation 
of the body was supported by Petr Galadzhev — an artist who had studied with 
Rozanova at the Moscow Stroganov Institute in the 1910s — who illustrated how to 
rationalize and standardize actions (such as a telephone conversation) onstage or 
in everyday life (see fig. 3?). His projects for Gan and for Popova's and Stepanova's 
prozodezhda eliminated gender identity. Stepanova approached the same theme — 
the analysis of the gesture/rhythm and all its possible variations — in her Figures, 
which Lavrentiev rightly advised to "read" not separately, but as a sequence. 



104 



nicoLeiTa misLer 



•CynbCa> 



xuaaa seiner icccu.i 



TpexnonbHaR nHpwweCHan 
napTMTypa. 








figure 3a. PeiT GaLaDZHeV 

Three renderings of dancers illustrating Alexei Gan's article "Kino-tekhnikum" in 
Zrelishcha (Moscow), no. to (1922), pp. 10—11. Left to right: Destiny. An Experimental 
Production. Kliokhlova Posing; Tripartite Lyrical Score. Phone Conversation. Komarov 
Posing; and. Axial Movements. Board. Stick and Rope. Khokhlova Posing. 



Exter, along with Lamanova, Evgeniia Pribylskaia, and sculptor Vera Mukhina, 
was a moving spirit behind the periodical Atelie, which published a single issue, in 
19^3. Mouthpiece of the Moscow Atelier of Fashions, it contained discussions of 
haute couture and elegant color plates, implying that high fashion was now for 
everyone. (The Atelier even indulged in private commissions, a far cry from the 
egalitarian spirit of the Revolution.) Soon enough, however, the theme of the stan- 
dardized female body was taken up by Soviet fashion, which went on to develop the 
precocious ideas of Popova and Stepanova. Popova often designed her textiles in 
relation to the shape of the clothes, utilizing the principles of optical illusion in 
order to facilitate the passage from the two-dimensional surface of the material to 
the three-dimensional volume of the human figure. 36 But it was precisely the 
extreme desire to rationalize the figure of the new Soviet woman that led to a nega- 
tion of the body as an expression of concrete, psychological, and sexual individual- 
ity— a process that had begun with the artists of the avant-garde. 



Handbag designs by Rozanova and Udaltsova are illustrated in Larisa Zhadova. Malevich and 

Suprematism in Russian Art 7910-1930 (London: Thames and Hudson. 1982), p. 3?. Others by 

Rozanova are reproduced in Vera Terekhina et al., Olga Rozanova 1886— 1918, exh. cat. (Helsinki: 

Helsinki City Museum, 1992), nos. 111 and 112. Some of Boguslavskaia's embroideries, including 

a Suprematist piece, were included in the World of Art exhibition in Petrograd 

in 1916; they are reproduced in Stolitsa i usadba (Petrograd), no. 56 (April 15, 1916). p. 23. 

See Dmitrii Sarabianovand Natalia Adaskina, Liubov Popova (New York: Abrams. 1990). pp. 272, 



io s 



THe body of THe avanT-oarDe 



294-97. See also Charlotte Douglas, "Sfx (and a Few More) Russian Wo men of the Avant- Garde," 
in this publication. 

3. See Douglas, "Six (and a Few More) Russian Women of the Avant-Garde." 

4. Kazimir Malevich, "Glavy iz avtobiografii khudozhnika," Vasilii Rakitin and Andrei Sarabianov, 
eds.. N. I. Khardzhiev. Stati ob svangarde (Moscow: RA. 1997). vol. 1, p. 114. 

5. Alexandra Exter, "On the Structure of Dress" (1923). Lydia Zaletova et al.. Revolutionary- Costume: 
Soviet Clothing and Textiles of the 1930s (New York: Rizzoli, 1989), p. 171; "Sovremennaia odezhda," 
Krasnaianiva (Moscow), no. 21 (May 27, 1923), p. 3i. 

6. See Varvara Stepanova, "Today's Fashion is the Worker's Overall" (1923), Zaletova et al., 
Revolutionary Costume , pp. 173-74. 

7. Pavel Florensky. "The Stratification of Aegean Culture." Nicoletta Misler, ed.. Pavel Florensky: 
Writings on An (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania State University, forthcoming); originally published 
in Bogosloovsku vestnik (Moscow) 2, no. 6 (1913). 

8. See, for example, Anatolii Strigalev and Jurgen Harten, eds.. Vladimir Tatlin, exh. cat. (Cologne: 
Du Mont, 1993), p. i3i, figs. io3— 06. 

9. Evgenii Mindlin, "0 priamoi, ob evoliutsii pidzhaka i stile v RSFSR." Zrelishcha (Moscow), no. 8 
(1922). p. 10. 

10. On the subject of the body, sexuality, and Russian women, see Jane Costlow, et al., Sexuality and 
the Body in Russian Culture (Stanford. Calif.: Stanford University Press. 1993). 

11. See Evgenii Kan, "Telo i odezhda," Zrelishcha (Moscow), no. 7 (1922), p. 16. 

12. Kasian Goleizovsky, "Obnozhennoe telo na stsene," Teatristudia (Moscow), nos. 1-2 (1922), 
pp. 36-38. 

i3. See Elizaveta Souritz, Soviet Choreographers (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1990), 

PP- ! 73-75- 

14. Liubov Popova, "On a Precise Criterion." Sarabianov and Adaskina, Liubov Popova , pp. 38o-8i. 

15. See Militsa Ullitskaia, "Po khoreograficheskim kontsertam," Sovetskoe Iskusstvo (Moscow), 
nos. 8-9 (1926), pp. 59-60. 

16. See Anatolii Fomin, Svetopis N. I. Svishchova-Paola (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1964). 

17. See Nicoletta Misler, "Apocalypse and the Russian Peasantry: The Great War in Natalia 
Goncharova's Primitivist Paintings," Experiment (Los Angeles), no. 4 (1997). pp. 62—76. 

18. See Olga Matich's "Gender Trouble in the Amazonian Kingdom: Turn -of -the- Century 
Representations of Women in Russia" in this publication. 

19. Pavel Florensky. "The Stratification of Aegean Culture." 

20. For example, Stone Maiden, Still-Life (Packages and Stone Maiden), and Still-life (Stone Maiden and 
Pineapple) (all works, 1908); see VystavkakartinNataliiSergevnyGoncharovoi, exh. cat. (Moscow: 
Art Salon, 1913), nos. 67, 155, and 245. 

21. Florensky, "The Stratification of Aegean Culture." 

22. See Nicolai Evreinov, Nagota na stsene (St. Petersburg: Typography of the Maritime Ministry, 
1911). 

23. Nicolai Evreinov, "Oblik parizhanki 1923 g,"Atelie (Moscow), no. 1 (1928), pp. 7-8. 

24. See Alexander Etkind, Eros nevozmozhnogo. Istonia psikhoanaliza v Rossii (St. Petersburg: Meduza. 
1993); and N. Penezhko et al.,Shekhtel, Riabushnsky, Gorky (Moscow: Nalsedie, 1997). 

25. See Alexei Sidorov, "Lichnoe delo," inRGALI [RossiiskiiGosudarstvennyi arkhiv literatury 
i iskusstva] (inv. no. f.941, op. 10, ed. khr. 189,1.1). 

26. Varvara Stepanova, "Non-Objective Creativity" (1919), in Alexander Lavrentiev and John E. 
Bowlt, eds. Varvara Stepanova: The Complete Work (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1988). p. 169. 



106 



nicoLeTTa misLer 



27. SeeAlexei Sidorov, Russkaiagrafikazagodyrevoliutsii, 1917-1922 (Moscow: Dompechati, 1923); 
reprinted in Alexei Sidorov, masterakh zarubezhnogo, russkogo i sovetskogo iskusstva. Izbrannye 
trad/ (Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1985), p. 278. 

28. Alexei Sidorov, "Ocherednye zadaehi iskusstva tantsa," Teatristudiia, nos. 1-2 (1922), p. 16. 

29. Inna Chernetskaia, "Plastika i analiz zhesta (Diskussiia. Protokol No. 6 Zasedaniia. 
Khoreograficheskaia sektsiia RAKhN 10/12/1923)," in RGALI [Rossiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv 
literaturyi iskusstva] (inv. no. 941, op. 17, ed. khr. 2, 1. 14,). 

30. Alexei Sidorov, "Boris Erdman, khudozhnik kostiuma,"z 7 re/ishc?ia (Moscow), no. 4,3 (1923), 
pp. 4-5. 

3i. Frank [Vladimir Fedorov] , "Ektsentricheskiibalet (vporiadke diskussii). Mysli o tantse v 
postanovke Lukina," Ernutazh (Moscow), no. 9 (1922), p. 7. 

32. Exter, "On the Structure of Dress," p. 171. 

33. YakovTugendkhold,,4£e:ra.ndra Exter (Berlin: Zaria, 1922), p. 26. 

34. SeeAlexei Gan, "Kino-tekhnikum,"£rmitazh (Moscow), no. 10 (1922), pp. 10-11. 

35. See Daniel Girardinet al., La Femme enjeu: Alexandr Rodtchenko (Annecy: La Petite Ecole, 1998), 
pp. 128. 

36. See Elena Murina, "Tkani Liubovi Popovoi," Dekorativnoe Iskusstvo SSSR (Moscow), no. 8 (1967), 
pp. 24-27. 



107 




figure 33. Left to right: Anton Lavinsky, Olga Rodchenko 
(Alexander Rodchenko's mother). Alexander Vesnin, 
Liuhov Popova. Nikolai Sobolev, and Varvara Stepanova 
(in foreground), photographed by Alexander Rodchenko. 
Moscow, 1924- 



creaTive women, 
creaTive men, anD 
paramGms of creaTiviTY: 
why Have THere Been 
GreaT women arTisTS? 



eKaierina dyogot 



Why have there been great women artists? Thus we might rephrase the classic 
question posed by Linda Nochlin in 1971 1 when considering the Russian avant- 
garde. Although French Surrealism was one of the most tolerant twentieth- century 
cultural movements in its attitude toward female artists, women artists signed 
none of the Surrealists' declarations, were absent from group portraits, and cre- 
ated their major works outside the movement. Yet the situation was quite different 
in Russia. Within the avant-garde, men welcomed their women colleagues as allies 
and accomplices, perhaps also at times as rivals, but always as equals; women 
artists were held in high regard. (Even before the October Revolution, Alexandra 
Exter and Natalia Goncharova achieved notoriety in Russia, while Liubov Popova 
and Nadezhda Udaltsova emerged as Cubists in Paris [fig. 34], an accomplishment 
unattained by the men of their circle.) The avant-garde in Russia was in dire need 
of bolstering its ranks, and women took advantage of this opportunity. Women 
artists even wrote and published theoretical texts, violating the final taboo of 
logocentrism. 

For the past twenty years, feminist criticism has been expanding the history of 
twentieth- century art. Certain women artists — among them Hannah Hoch, Frida 
Kahlo, Kate Sage, and Sophie Tauber-Arp — have been removed from the familial 
and sexual biographies of their male partners, while the traditionally female roles 
of "muse," "silent partner," and portrait object have been elevated to the status 
of artistic contributions. 2 Yet within the Russian avant-garde, the women artists 



109 




figure 34. LIUBOV POPOVa 
Portrait of a Philosopher, 1915 
Oil on canvas. 35.5 x 26.7 cm 
Private collection. Moscow 



erased the gendered aspects of creativity, partly because they saw themselves as 
artists "in general." (Although the women of French Surrealism also saw them- 
selves this way, no one doubts that their art is explicitly gendered.) 3 At the same 
time, Russian women artists felt a common identity and solidarity with one 
another; Goncharova served not only as a stylistic source for Olga Rozanova, but also 
as a role model, while Rozanova, in turn, served as a model for Varvara Stepanova. 

The first women to take their place in the history of Russian art were con- 
nected to male artists by blood: Elena Polenova was the sister of Vasilii Polenov and 
Maria Yakunchikova was the sister of his wife, while Zinaida Serebriakova was the 
daughter of sculptor Evgenii A. Lanceray, the sister of painter Evgenii E. Lanceray, 
and the niece of Alexandre Renois. The women artists of the next generation, how- 
ever, were almost all involved in artistic and sexual relationships with male artists. 
Yet there is not a single study that analyzes the partnerships of Goncharova and 
Mikhail Larionov, Elena Guro and Mikhail Matiushin, Stepanova and Alexander 
Rodchenko, or Udaltsova and Alexander Drevin, and one usually finds only passing 
remarks that Rozanova was the wife of poet and theorist Alexei Kruchenykh 



eKarenna dyooot 



(although they were never officially married), that Exter is rumored to have been 
the lover of Ardengo Soffici, or that more than professional concerns and a com- 
mon studio at Vkhutemas connected Popova and Alexander Vesnin. These part- 
nerships were often formed after or during a woman's first marriage when her 
husband was less than her intellectual equal.* The ideology of an equal marriage, 
became common in educated circles in Russia in the 1860s, and this peculiarity 
should be considered — along with institutional, sociological, historical, artistic, 
and biographical factors5 — in any attempt to explain the presence of "great 
Russian women artists" in the 1910s and 1920s. 

How did these unions between great artists function? What kinds of cultural 
and aesthetic constructions of masculine/feminine creativity were established? 
The Modernist drama of binarity, in which the Other is encoded automatically as 
unconscious, natural, and feminine, now unfolds. 

Even if twentieth- century Russian women artists were more visible than their 
Western counterparts, we should not ignore issues of exclusion and exploitation. 
But gender- oriented criticism is not an expose of, or a defense against, sexual 
harassment in art history, and it should not be used to police an artist's life or aes- 
thetic system. In attempting to reverse one of the alleged repressions of 
Modernism, are we not concurring that the repressed Other is feminine? Would 
it not be more beneficial to question the codification of whatever is repressed as 
"natural" (although nature itself is also repressive) and, consequently, as femi- 
nine? Should Modernism really be "refashioned around such figures as Sonia 
Delaunay" 6 (who created more forms than ideas), as many feminist critics 
demand? More to the point, to what extent can we reject a dominant paradigm? 
Is there an advantage to taking an anthropological approach to art? Wouldn't 
women become banners for anti-Modernist revenge, as they did in Soviet criti- 
cism, which extolled women for their "emotionality" (that is, their failure to grasp 
art as an idea), "subtlety" (incapacity for radical innovation), and "wise aspiration 
to overcome destructive excesses"? 

GoncHarova anD Larionov: THe career of me OTHer 

To be a woman artist at the beginning of the twentieth century was no easy task. 
The catastrophic overproduction of nudes in the preceding decades (though fewer 
were produced in Russia than in Europe) had caused women to be equated with the 
art object, and since Modernism despised the object's passivity and understood 
innovation in terms of medium and "device" (to use the Russian formalists' term) 
— both of which were associated with the phallus and logos) — it simply could not 
favor the feminine. In the 1913 manifesto Slovo kak takovoe (The Word as Such) , 
Kruchenykh spoke with irony of "feminine" criteria applied to language ("clear, 
melodious, pleasant," and so on), while observing that "first and foremost Ian- 




figure 35. naTaLia GoncHarova 

Portrait of Mikhail Larionov, 1913 
Oil on canvas, 105x78 cm 
Museum Ludwig, Cologne 



exaTerma dyogot 



guage must be language and if it has to remind us of something, then better the saw 
or the poisoned arrow of the savage." " The saw, as a symbol of a violent (and virile) 
intervention in nature, appears in both Kazimir Malevich's Cubo-Futurist paint- 
ings and Vasily Kandinsky's theoretical writings. Describing the painting process, 
the latter observed in 1918: "At first, it stands there like a pure, chaste maiden, 
with clear gaze and heavenly joy — this pure canvas that is itself as beautiful as a 
picture. And then comes the imperial brush, conquering it gradually, first here, 
then there, employing all its native energy, like a European colonist, who with axe, 
spade, hammer, and saw penetrated the virgin jungle where no human foot had 
trod, bending it to conform to its will." 8 

But while any fin-de-siecle Russian artist would have perceived the Freudian 
aspect of Kandinsky's tirade with the joy of an accomplice, the second, 
"Eurocentric" aspect would have been received differently. Living in a country 
whose intellectuals often engaged in discussion about its tragic (or perhaps fortu- 
nate) dissimilarity to rational Europe, the Russian artist would have tended to 
identify with Kandinsky's "virgin jungle." Russian Futurism was, indeed, fervently 
nationalistic. Consequently, if the Modernist identification of women with objects 
might have made Russian women artists uneasy, then the association of women 
with the Other (the mysterious, the unconscious, the archaic) was likely to have 
been a comfortable position, since Russian philosophy favored the Other. To early 
twentieth- century Russian audiences, women embodied Russian art, and for a 
while Goncharova filled this role with her peasant Primitivism.9 

Due to her economic independence and higher social status (she belonged to 
the old nobility) , Goncharova was able to develop her relationship with Larionov 
(who had a much humbler background) on an equal footing. They met in 1900 as 
students at the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, and 
from then on their creative partnership never faltered. It was Larionov who ori- 
ented Goncharova toward painting (when they met she was still studying sculp- 
ture) ; he pointed out — in accordance with the stereotype of the "feminine" — that 
her strength lay in subtle coloring and not in powerful form. But while Larionov 
ceded first place to Goncharova in everything, as memoirists unanimously con- 
tend, she once slapped someone for calling her "Madame Larionova." '° Her par- 
ticipation in artistic debates, the many references to her in newspapers, as well as 
her ready social adaptability and personal independence during their years as emi- 
gres in France (their familial relationship ended — apparently on the initiative of 
Goncharova — although they remained a creative tandem) enhanced her image as 
an Amazon. 

The roles in Goncharova's and Larionov's artistic union were well defined. 
Larionov was a legend among Russian artistic circles, but Goncharova enjoyed 
greater media and commercial success." She was an indefatigable "picture- 

u3 



creaTive women. creaTive men 




figure 36. naTaLia ooncHarova 

Apple Trees in Bloom, 1913 
Oil on canvas, 105 x 84.5 cm 



maker," contributing almost eight hundred works to her Moscow retrospective 
in 1913, but Larionov nonetheless reproached her for not working hard enough. 12 
Larionov's commitment to painting was less absolute, for he also assumed other 
key roles, which Goncharova never took upon herself: institutional organizer, 
theoretician (with the support of Ilia Zdanevich), and inventor of radical ideas 
(including Rayism, Rayist theater, and face painting). The imperative of theory 
compelled Larionov to act not only as the pioneer of a new movement with diligent 
students such as Mikhail Le-Dantiu, but also as the discoverer of objectively exist- 
ing tendencies who saw his insights confirmed in the work of naive artists such as 
Georgian painter Niko Pirosmanashvili. Goncharova's fiery individualism placed 
her in the company of these naive artists, as an unconscious ally of Larionov rather 
than a student of his theories. 

For Goncharova's 1913 retrospective, Zdanevich delivered a special lecture 
entitled "Natalia Goncharova and Everythingism," repeating more or less what 
Larionov had declared at TJie Target exhibition a few months before. 
Everythingism. as he defined it, lay not in the eclectic diversity of appropriation, 
but in the principle of positive and uncritical acknowledgment, as opposed to the 
criticism of Western Modernism. Marina Tsvetaeva associates Goncharova with the 
"Russian genius who appropriates everything" and with the ethics of nature, since 
"Goncharova embraced the machine as nature does." l3 A parallel to Everythingism 
is found in the views of poet Benedikt Livshits, a member of the same circle, who 
debated Filippo Tommaso Marinetti during the Italian's visit to St. Petersburg at 



114 



eKaTerma dvogot 



the beginning of 1914. Livshits believed that Russia's anti -Western essence lay in 
"our inner proximity to material, our exceptional sensation of it, our inborn ability 
to transubstantiate, which removes all intermediary links between material and 
creator. " '4 If the sense of national identity in Russia was based on the notion of 
"unconditional unification" as opposed to European individualism, this opposi- 
tion paralleled the social construction of the "feminine" and the "masculine." '5 
Indeed, the gender aspects of this dichotomy did not escape the attention of the 
Russian Futurists. Livshits, for example, spoke ironically of Marinetti's "one 
hundred horse-power phallic pathos." l6 

The Russian avant-garde's xenophobic campaign helped elaborate a strategy 
whereby the East as Other was not only rehabilitated, but also promoted as the 
"grand narrative" out of which European Modernism had grown. The East, in this 
view, already contained the West. The "feminine" also had to demonstrate its uni- 
versality and self-sufficiency. Goncharova synthesized both ideas, asserting that 
the "Scythian stone maidens, the Russian painted wooden dolls . . . are made in 
the manner of Cubism." 1 - Like the painted dolls, the "stone maidens" to which 
Goncharova referred — effigies created by the nomads of the Russian steppes — are 
not representations specifically of women, but anthropomorphic representations 
in general. Thus Goncharova's picture of the world was distinctly matriarchal, as 
her painting Boys Bathing (Direct Perception) , 1911, (Leonard Hutton Galleries, 
New York), with its gender reversal, suggests. Larionov's Soldier Cycle and Venuses, 
which he began after Goncharova had staked out her matriarchal territory, might 
be seen as an attempt at an ironic construction of a "masculine" world. 

Guro ariD maTiusHiri: THe moTHer reFemmizeD 

Elena Guro had not only an earthly destiny awaiting her, but also a fantastic 
posthumous one. Through the efforts of Mikhail Matiushin (her husband), many 
artists came to identify Guro with nature as a source of creative power. Matiushin's 
attitude toward Guro included a very strong element of spiritual fetishism. "Intoto 
she is perhaps a sign," he wrote in Troe (The Three, 1913), an anthology dedicated to 
her memory. 18 During Guro's lifetime. Matiushin published her books, translated 
and annotated esoteric literature, and composed music for her plays. He began to 
emerge as an outstanding artist and inventor of original spatial theories only after 
her death. (The day after she died, on April ^3, 1913, he resigned from the orches- 
tra in which he had played violin for thirty years to devote himself to art.) '9 At the 
beginning of the 1920s, he established the Elena Guro Commune, whose partici- 
pants, mainly the Ender family, not only staged performances of her plays, but 
also communicated with her through spiritualist seances. 20 In other words, Guro 
participated in the construction of a collective body, in which Matiushin perceived 
the creative subject of the future. 



"5 



creative women, crea-rive men 



Matiushin first sawGuro inYanTsionglinsky's St. Petersburg studio in 1900. 
He recalled: "Elena Guro was drawing the spirit of 'genius' (from plaster). I have 
never seen such unity between the creator and the subject under observation. " '-' 
Without question. Matiushin was implying in this passage that Guro herself was a 
genius. He expressed the cultural construct of the unity between subject and object 
not as "feminine" or as "Russian." but as a definition of creativity itself— some- 
thing that the Symbolists, especially poet and philosopher Vladimir Soloviev, 
identified with "love." 22 Guro's pronouncement that the "poet is the one that gives 
life, not the one that takes it away" 23 is crucial; she opposed her art to the reduc- 
tionist line of Modernism (which by that time was moving rapidly toward 
Malevich's Black Square. 1915), and was among those who were searching for an 
alternative. For that reason, she approached abstraction not through analysis but 
through an absence of violence, a weakening of energy. As Matiushin noted, Guro 
made her ink drawings with a brush, never with a pen so that she would not scratch 
or dig into the object. 2 * Her favorite color was green, which both Kandinsky and 
Malevich despised, not so much for its "natural" quality as for its mediocre, non- 
radical character (due to its reconciliation of yellow and blue) . 

Guro's timid abstractions would not be as noteworthy as they are were it not for 
the gendered narration of the move from Symbolism to abstraction that appears 
in her prose, in which the central mythologem is the incorporeal son. In her main 
work, the poem "Bednyi rytsar" (Poor knight), the youth appears before the hero- 
ine, who recognizes him as her own son; she experiences his incorporeality and 
independence of logos (she cannot recall his name) as both tragedy and grace. 2 5 
This many-sided motif can be read in the context of Symbolism and the biological 
procreativeness in "life -creation," which Futurism transformed, in Marinetti's 
novel Mafarka- Futurist (1910), into a myth about the birth of a "mechanical son" 
by a human being. Whereas Guro, whose work carries a moral and aesthetic prohi- 
bition on negation, spoke of a son who is disembodied, this motif appears in 
Malevich's work as the gaping absence of a "living, regal infant" (as Malevich 
called his Black Square).'- 6 

Guro's work inspired not only the "pantheistic" Matiushin, but also people 
who were much more distant from the ideal of nature. These included Kruchenykh, 
whom Guro impressed with her thoughts on linguistics. Speaking of the mecha- 
nisms of repression she sensed so keenly, Guro wrote in a chapter entitled 
"Offended Words" in her literary diary: "I am aware that I avoid these words faint- 
heartedly and feel like a criminal, because it is precisely I who should work to lib- 
erate them. What am I to do? There are words that receive no affection and glory 
through belief in their heroism. In literature, it seems to me, such is the entire 
feminine gender, which has been deprived by its lack of independence, and which 
proved unable to value the purity of loneliness. . . . What can be done so that they 



EKarenna dyogot 



cease to be words of insignificance?" -" Kruchenykh's "transrationality" provided 
an answer to this question: destroy the hierarchical system. His projected struc- 
ture for a transrational language allowed for a "lack of agreement in case, number, 
tense and gender between subject and predicate, adjective and noun." 38 A case in 
point is the subtitle Tsvetnaia klei (Colored Glue) for Kruchenykh's Vselenskaia voina 
(Universal War) , an album of collages made under the influence of Rozanova. 2 9 
(An outstanding monument to the Russian avant-garde, it was published in 
January 1916. coinciding with the 0.70 exhibition, at which Malevich' s Black Square 
was shown.) The lack of grammatical agreement between the Russian words for 
"colored" and "glue" ("colored" takes the feminine form, while "glue" is mascu- 
line) served to create not only an absurd semantic unity, but also an atmosphere 
of total freedom in the selection of gender identities. One manifestation of this 
entropic democratism was the "shifting" identity of Kruchenykh himself. In his 
Cubo-Fururist opera Victory Over the Sun, he declared, "Everything became mascu- 
line," and a number of words lose their feminine ending. Kruchenykh devised the 
feminine word "euy" from the vowels of his surname to replace "lily," which he 
felt had been "raped" through overuse, 30 and used it as the mark of his publishing 
enterprise. 

rozanova anD KrucHenYKH: unconDiironaL FreeDom 

It appears that Kruchenykh tried to develop his collaboration with Rozanova on a 
similarly androgynous basis. They met in 1913 (Kruchenykh formulated the con- 
cept of "transrationality" in the context of their romance) , and, soon after, 
Rozanova began to illustrate nearly all of Kruchenykh's books, including Utinoe 
gnezdyshko durnykh slov (Duck's Nest of Bad Words, 1913) (fig. 37), TeLiLe (1914) 
(fig. 67), and others. Their collaborative works, which are striking for their com- 
plete synthesis of representation and text, led Rozanova to take up "transrational" 
poetry and Kruchenykh to take up collage. 

In the preface to Vselenskaia voina (Universal War), which Kruchenykh com- 
posed independently of Rozanova. he accorded her primacy in non-objectivity, 
remarking that "now several other artists are developing [this] , including Malevich, 
Puni and others, who have given it the nonexpressive appellation 'Suprematism.'" 31 

In summer 1915, Russia witnessed the creation of not one, but two equally 
influential versions of non-objective aesthetics. One (Suprematism) was devel- 
oped by Malevich, the other (The Word as Such) by Kruchenykh. Working at 
Malevich's dacha in Kuntsevo, Kruchenykh presumably would have passed along 
information about Malevich's activities to Rozanova. Malevich was busy with the 
problem of the "zero of forms" as a radical "conflagration" of the visible world, and 
the shift to a qualitatively new level ("beyond zero"). "I think that Suprematism is 
the most appropriate [title] ," Malevich wrote to Matiushin while searching for a 



creaTive women, creanve men 




' jiM.rl. «»«««». <r „,„ 







figure 37. OLGa rozanova 

Illustrations for Alexei Kruchenykh's 
Utinoe gnezdrshko durnykh slov . St. Petersburg. 1913 
Watercolor and lithograph. 91 x 67 cm 
Collection of Luce Marinetti. Rome 



EKaTenna dyogot 



name for the new art, "since it designates dominion." 3s In Kruchenykh's theory 
of "the word as such," the motif of liberation and "loosening up" — in contrast to 
Malevich's tense, commanding "grasp" — plays a substantial role. 

Kruchenykh's theory and its manifestation in Rozanova's work grew out of a 
concern shared by many artists and theoreticians of the Russian avant-garde: the 
question of how to reduce form without placing it under the drastic and repressive 
submission of the artist's conscious will (for which French Cubism and Italian 
Futurism were criticized) . While Malevich brought this latent Cubist violence to 
its extreme conclusion in his Black Square, Guro, Matiushin. and Pavel Filonov 
chose an intrinsic prohibition of Minimalism and reduction (which is sometimes 
compulsive in Filonov's overcrowded paintings). Rozanova was the only artist who 
simplified forms in a radical way without emphasizing the means of doing violence 
to them. In her 1917 essay "Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism," she wrote: 
"Figurative art has been born of a love for color." 33 Unlike Malevich. Rozanova 
preferred the word "color" to the word "paint," 3 * favoring the end over the means 
and surpassing the violence of the latter in the notion of "love," a concept that 
Malevich often excised. 3 s Rozanova appears to have followed Platonic, Romantic, 
and Symbolist traditions by using this term to refer to the blending of the subject 
with the object, of the means with the end. She wrote, "Futurism provided art with 
a unique expression, the fusion of two worlds, the subjective and the objective." 36 

In her extraordinary late paintings of 1917-18 (plates 53—54), Rozanova 
blurred the boundaries between figure and ground, eventually removing them 
altogether, along with representation as the demonstration of power (which is still 
evident in Malevich's Black Square). She was the only artist who proved able to 
develop Suprematism (even to create an alternative to it) without staining its aes- 
thetic purity with too much emotion, lyricism, or intimacy, and her contribution to 
the Russian avant-garde was truly unique. Rut her late paintings also derive from 
her understanding of Kruchenykh's theories of 1918—15, which were oriented 
toward the radical deconstruction of binary pairs. ("We started seeing 'here' and 
'there,'" he wrote. ) 3 ? Kruchenykh and Rozanova searched for "transrational" areas 
where these binaries could be challenged and then effaced, not in the silence of 
Malevich's eternal "nothing," but in unstable syntheses. (This is reminiscent of 
objectives later articulated by Andre Rreton in the Surrealist manifestos.) One 
such area was male/female erotic relationships; another was collaborative ven- 
tures. The book, with its simultaneity of image and word, served as the place for the 
"transrational" meeting of representation and text. Many enthusiastic lines have 
been written about the brilliant publications of Kruchenykh and Rozanova, for 
whom the book appeared to be less a form of collaboration between poet and artist 
than an artistic form with a completely new structure of subject-object relations. It 
served as a replacement for the picture, in which the woman was always the object 



119 




figure 38. OLGa rozanova 

Decorative Motif , 1917 

Watercolor, pencil, and india ink, 24.8 x 17 cm 

The Judith Rothschild Foundation 



and the man the subject (or the object was always a woman and the subject a man); 
rather, it proved to be a field of "dual subjectivity." 

Neither Rozanova and Kruchenykh's collaborative partnership nor their per- 
sonal relationship was free of problems, it seems. "I have been asked how much 
you pay me for my illustrations of your books and why I keep silent about it," 
Rozanova wrote to Kruchenykhin 1914. "I am told you are exploiting me, making 
me illustrate prints and stitch your books. ... A notary has a secretary who is usu- 
ally his mistress. You think I can be both your mistress and illustrator of your 
books." 38 In his memoirs, Kruchenykh acknowledged that he handwrote his own 
texts in his early lithographic books extremely unwillingly, and that he did so only 
because he was short of cash to pay an artist to do it; 3 9 after 1913, it was Rozanova 
who undertook this task. Kruchenykh also asserted, moreover, that he handwrote 
the texts for Starinnaia liubov (Old-time love) himself, although according to the 
text of his and Velimir Khlebnikov's manifesto Bukva kak takovaia (The Letter as 
Such, 1913), it was Larionovwho did so. 4 ° While Bukva kak takovaia ascribes the 
utmost significance to handwriting as an expression of the poet's emotional state 
and is emphatic that the text should not be typeset, it expresses a curious indiffer- 
ence toward the question of who should handwrite the text in a collaborative book — 
the author or the artist. In the books themselves the artist is always credited, but 
they do not indicate who handwrote the text. Perhaps coauthorship in this case can 
be understood not as collaboration, but as a kind of musical performance by the 



eKaTerma dyogot 



artist, who unconsciously identified with the poet in illustrating the text. 
Kruchenykh's remark that Rozanova "was helpless in practical affairs . . . a sensi- 
tive child -like woman. This is both a great merit and a shortcoming" *' brings to 
mind the Surrealists' notion of the "femme-enfant," the more so since the Russian 
transrationalists also hoped to enter the space of the unconscious through contact 
(of a nonsexual kind) with naive little girls.* 2 Apparently, Kruchenykh was not free 
from perceptions of women as doors into the unconscious. 

As Nina Gurianova has pointed out, Kruchenykh often finished Rozanova's 
verses, and sometimes signed them with two signatures.* 3 While he was in Tbilisi 
publishing his "autographic" books in 1917—18, he sent her the sketch of a visual 
poem, which she colored before he made more changes, and he occasionally used 
such works in his books with no reference to her. What does this mean? 
Exploitation? A radical attitude to the problem of authorship? Is it a peculiarity of 
the creative personality of Rozanova herself? Or does it point to the irreducibility 
of the power relations between word and representation, in which privilege always 
belongs to the text? 

STepanova anD roDCHenKO: peoPLe anD thiiigs 

From the 1920s on, Stepanova and Rodchenko were considered an artists' couple 
who represented the egalitarian ideals of independence, comradeship, and joint 
professional success. The reality was less idyllic. Among the many roles that 
Stepanova filled in the artistic sphere — artist, author of declarations, creator of 
new artistic structures, agitator for the new art — her function as a recording device 
for Rodchenko's numerous ideas was especially important. Without her diary 
notes, in which the pronoun "I" refers sometimes to her, sometimes to him, the 
ideas of 1919—21 (at least) would have been lost. Later on, Stepanova assumed yet 
another role — as "manager" of their book designs, prompting her daughter, 
Varvara, to compare her to "a 'robot' secretary."** In a strange way, this image 
recalls Stepanova's paintings from 1919— 21, with their representations of "mecha- 
nized" men. 

In 1915, Rodchenko recorded in his diary a prophecy of his creative path: "I 
shall make things live like souls and souls like things." *s In the late 1910s and early 
1920s, he devoted himself mainly to "things," working on "non-objective sub- 
jects" full of vitalistic Romanticism, such as luminescent abstractions and archi- 
tectural and mobile constructions. Stepanova devoted herself to the opposite task 
of making things from souls, a more radical but less rewarding task. ^1919, she 
abandoned her brilliant visual poetry in order to draw miniature figures, as if to 
fulfill a duty of dehumanizing the body. In their first joint photograph. Street 
Musicians, 1920, Rodchenko and Stepanova appear against a background of these 
drawings. Although the photograph was made in the style of her art — their poses 





far left: 

figure 39. varvara 
STepanova 

Caricature of Alexander 
Rodchenko, 1923 
India ink on paper, 
23.5 x18 cm 
Private collection 

figure 40. varvara 
STepanova 

Self- Caricature, 1922 
India ink on paper, 
33.5x17.5 cm 
Private collection 



are reminiscent of her figures — Stepanova nonetheless appears to be passive and 
dependent in the photograph. She is different in later photographs made by 
Rodchenko on his own, but she still seems to submit to the idea of answering to 
him with great enthusiasm: she appears as a woman laborer in a kerchief (one of 
her designs), a saleswoman at the State Publishing House store, or a living adver- 
tisement for one of Rodchenko's logo designs. Stepanova's pseudonym, "Varst," is 
striking not so much for its lack of a feminine ending, but rather because it allowed 
her to speak of herself in the third person ("Varst's works"), 

The demand for both independence and dependence that defined Stepanova's 
work in the context of her relationship with Rodchenko derived from a variety of 
sources, among them social reality, personal characteristics, and feelings 
(Stepanova's letters and diaries demonstrate her boundless devotion to her hus- 
band) . Rut what is most interesting in terms of her work is the role played by the 
duality of the Constructivist aesthetic program. The key problem in Constructivism 
concerned the object, which supplanted the obsolete conception of the painting. 
Invariably, the painting became associated with a woman, and frequently a prosti- 
tute. (Malevich referred to it as a "plump Venus.") To the Constructivists, the pic- 
ture was always pornographic: regardless of what it represented; it appealed 
shamelessly to the sexuality of the viewer and thirsted to be purchased. In one of 
his first photographs, made in 1924, Rodchenko depicted Lef member Anton 
Lavinsky with a small photograph of a nude model in the background. Having 
Lavinsky turn away from the nude, Rodchenko opposed the objectified body with 
the face of a new creator, a new subject. Woman had to cease to be a thing, a com- 
modity, the object of a picture. Visiting Paris in 1925, Rodchenko found the cult of 
woman as thing and the invincibility of the picture distasteful. (Among the first 
things that he saw were dirty postcards.) He wrote from there: "Light from the East 
bears a new attitude toward man, toward woman, and toward things. Things in our 
hands should also be equal, should also be our comrades." 4 6 



eKaTerma dyogot 



According to this line of thought, thing and woman should be creators them- 
selves. The border between subject and object is removed not so much by the 
strength of love for the subject (as in Symbolism, which lay at the foundation of 
aesthetic resolutions of the 1900s and 1910s) as by the strength of the object's pos- 
itive response. Constructivist design was also devoted to the production of a cer- 
tain substance of a positive nature, a certain functional readiness to act. This was 
embodied in Stepanova's studies for athletic costumes; the figures in these studies 
are usually shown with legs spread wide apart, and the costumes often have dia- 
mond - shaped patches in the area of the knees so that the closing and opening of 
the legs would constitute the outfit's main visual effect. There was something 
erotic, of course, in this demonstration of independence and sexual openness, but 
Constructivism did not so much deny this quality as fail to recognize it, since this 
eroticism was virtually a side effect of the primary goal, which was to abolish 
alienation in the structure of the thing- commodity, picture -commodity, body- 
commodity. This was intended to create a new space of total freedom and com- 
radeship, a "new way of life," a goal that Sergei Tretiakov — a member, with 
Rodchenko, of the Lef group, which advocated Constructivism — proclaimed as 
the primary task of the new art. 4? 

There was a problem that the Lef group did not fully understand, however: the 
lack of distinction between the aesthetic product and the role played in the "new 
way of life" by personal relations. ^1927, an essay in Novyi Lef (New Left) stated 
that "like true lovers, Lef and reality preserve the inventive freshness of their rela- 
tionship," 4 8 meaning that the group had still not broken with its former lover, aes- 
thetics. On exactly which territory the new lovers could meet, however, was not 
clear. Many of the works created by the Lef group at that time (including exhibition 
designs and book covers) became standard fare, just a way of making ends meet. It 
is characteristic that it was mostly women, including Stepanova, who pursued this 
kind of activity as a job, remaining loyal to the single medium they chose. The ele- 
ments of the erotic and the accidental in forms of the "new way of life" (often 
recalling the Surrealist circle) took the place of the anarchic creative substance of 
1918 to 1921. During the 1920s, the gatherings of the Lef group proceeded like 
seances or maniacal games of Chinese mah-jongg. Stepanova's neighbor and col- 
league Elizaveta Lavinskaia asserted that the circle made a practical study of the 
possibilities of freedom from property relations: "Varvara Stepanova pretended to 
be a saint, she picked out mistresses for Rodchenko herself, and then fell into hys- 
terics. . . . Of course, all of them [the Lef circle] removed themselves from art, pro- 
faned and defiled the very concept of love!" w 

Inher memoirs, written in 1948. Lavinskaia connected the "new way of life" 
as practiced by the Erik- Mayakovsky family (Osip Brik, Lili Brik. and Vladimir 
Mayakovsky) to the destruction of art. primarily of the studio painting. After all, 

123 



creaTive women, creanve men 



the painting opposed aesthetic and sexual promiscuity with its own uniqueness — 
which the Lef group censured as the basis of fetishism — and with the exclusive 
character of its own subjective-objective relations. Despite this, Constructivism 
was not at all free from fetishism: in studying Rodchenko's letters from Paris as 
well as the socialist object theory of Lef theoretician Alexander Bogdanov, 
Christina Kiaer writes of the deeply fetishistic character of the Constructivist the - 
ory of the object. 5° If the Constructivists were slow to realize that their projects for 
the objects of the "new way of life" were not so functional, but rather carried an 
enormous potential of desire, then their work on advertisements in the mid- 19250s 
soon confirmed it. The mark of desire within Constructivism is apparent in 
Stepanova's work for the motion picture Alienation (1926), in which the walls of the 
bizarre, expensive hairdresser's shop where the villains spend their time are deco - 
rated with her designs for the Young Communist League. 5 1 In his 1928 photographs 
of Stepanova, in which she appears on a bed in a tightly fitting sweater, Rodchenko 
embellishes her image with an erotic fetish: one of the most striking photographs 
shows her with closed eyes, caressing her face with a long string of beads. 

In 1927—38, Rodchenko launched a photographic experiment to study and re- 
eroticize the passive object, evident in his still lifes with glass objects reproduced 
in the eleventh issue of Novyi Lef, in 1928. Aesthetically, he was prepared for the 
dramatic love story that he lived out at the beginning of the 1980s with Evgeniia 
Lemberg, the long-unidentified figure in Rodchenko's Young Woman with a "Leica" 
Camera, 1984.5- The nude photographs he took of Lemberg while they were staying 
together in the Crimea (which until recently remained unknown) change our 
impression of him. The assumption that an object is always an object of desire — 
and one that pays with the distortion of its image — led Rodchenko to his dramatic 
photographs of human bodies on the beach (taken during the same trip to the 
Crimea), his circus photographs during the 1980s, and his Surrealist abstractions 
made in 1984. The personal is always the aesthetic after all. 

1. Linda Nochlin, "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?" (1971). in Nochlin, 
Women, Art, and Power and Other Essays (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), pp. 145-78. 

3. See, for example. Whitney Chadwick, Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement (Boston: Little, 
Brown, 1985); Whitney Chadwick and Isabelle de Courtivron, eds.. Significant Others: Creativity 
and Intimate Partnership (London: Thames & Hudson, 1993); and Renee Riese Hubert, Magnifying 
Mirrors: Women. Surrealism, and Partnership (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994)- 

3. See Hubert, Magnifying Mirrors , p. a3. 

4. Popova's husband, Boris von Eding, died in 1918, a year after they were married. In 1903, Exter 
married the lawyer Nikolai Exter, who did not hinder his wife's lengthy trips to Paris, Moscow, 
and St. Petersburg, or her friendship with members of the avant-garde; in sum, he "did not 
interfere in her life." (A. Koonen, quoted in Georgii Kovalenko, Alexandra Exter [Moscow: Galart, 
1993] , p. 180.) Udaltsova, who married in 1908, wrote ten years later that her husband "did not 



124 



eKarenna dyogot 



assist at all ... in .. . [her] hard and difficult life." (Ekaterina Drevina and Vasilii Rakitin, eds., 
Nadezhda Udaltsova:Zhiznrusskoikubistki. Dnevniki, stati, vospominaniia [Moscow: RA, 1994]. 
p. 49.) Stepanova married architect Dmitrii Fedorovin 1913, split with him in 1915, but still 
carried his surname in 1925. She entered into official marriage with Rodchenko during World 
War II. 

5. Access to accurate biographical information is often difficult in these cases, as the children of 
these couples — having lived to see the acknowledgment of their parents' work after many years 
of persecution and oblivion in the U.S.S.R. —tend to be extremely selective in choosing the facts 
from their personal lives with which to acquaint the reader. Any approach to the present topic 
requires a thorough familiarity with the archives. 

6. Chadwick and Courtivron, eds.. Significant Others, p. 33. 

7. Herbert Eagle and Anna Lawton, eds., Russian Futurism through its Manifestoes, 19 12-1 928 (Ithaca: 
Cornell University Press, 1988), p. 61. 

8. Vasily Kandinsky, "Reminiscences/Three Pictures" (1913), in Kenneth C. Lindsay and Peter 
Vergo, eds., Kandinsky: Complete Writings on Art (New York: De Capo Press, 1994), pp. 373-73. 

9. Marina Tsvetaeva referred to Goncharova as "Old Russia" in "Natalia Goncharova (Zhizn i 
tvorchestvo)," in Georgii Kovalenko, ed., Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov. Vospominaniia 
sovremennikov (Moscow: Galart, 1995), p. 53. 

10. A. Krusanov, Russkii avangard: i^o^-ic/3^. Istoricheskii ohzorvtrekh tomakh. Tom uBoevoe desi- 
atiletie (St. Petersburg: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 1996), p. i33. 

11. Ballet master Michel Fokine, who was distant from new-art circles, referred to them as 
"Goncharova and her co-worker M. F. Larionov." "Protivtechema," in Kovalenko, ed., Natalia 
Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, p. 119. On the commercial success of Goncharova's 1913 Moscow 
retrospective (Larionov never had a comprehensive show in Russia) , see Krusanov, Russkii avan- 
gard, 1907-1932, pp. 126-27. 

12. See "A Conversation with Alexandra KorsakovaG 904-1990), "Heresies (New York), no. 26 
(1992), p. 93. 

i3. Tsvetaeva, "Natalia Goncharova (Zhizn i tvorchestvo)," in Kovalenko, ed., Natalia Goncharova, 
Mikhail Larionov , pp. 34, 81. 

14. Benedikt Livshits, The One and a Half- Eyed Archer, trans. John E. Bowlt (Newtonville, Mass.: 
Oriental Research Partners, 1977), p. 208. 

15. See Nancy Chodorow, The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978). 

16. Livshits, The One and a .Half- Eyed Archer, p. 197. 

17. Krusanov, Russkii avangard: 1907-1932, p. 64. 

18. Quoted in Alexander Oeheretiansky, Dzherald Yanechek, and Vadim Kreid, labytyi avangard: 
Rossiia. PervaiatretXXstoletiia. Sbomik spravochnykh i teoreticheskikh materialov (New York and 
St. Petersburg: n.p., 1993), p. 46. 

19. Vasilii Rakitin and Andrei Sarabianov, eds., JV. I. Khardzhiev. Stati ob avangarde (Moscow: 
RA, 1997), p. 168. 

20. Elena Guro.- Poet i khudoxhnik. i8ff-ipi3, exh. cat. (St. Petersburg: Mifril, 1994), p. 52. 

21. Quoted in Rakitin and Sarabianov, eds., N. J. Khardzhiev, p. 152. 

22. See Olga Matich, "The Symbolist Meaning of Love: Theory and Practice," Irina Paperno and Joan 
Delaney Grossman, eds. , Creating Life: The Aesthetic Utopia of Russian Modernism (Stanford: 
Stanford University Press, 1994), pp. 24-50. The relationship between Guro and Matiushin has 
much in common with the Symbolists' notion of "spiritual marriage. " 



125 



creanve women, creaTive men 



23. Elena Guro, Nebesnye verbliuzhata (Rostov-na-Donu: Rostov University, 1993), p. 53. 

24. Rakitin and Sarabianov, eds.. N. I. Khardzhiev, p. 155. 

25. Guro, Nebesnye verbliuzhata, p. 189. 

26. Jean-Claude Marcade demonstrates the iconographic similarity between a ig3o self-portrait by 
Malevich and Mother-and-Child icons, apart from the significant absence of the child in 
Malevich's work. Jean-Claude Marcade, Malevitch (Paris: Nouvelles Editions Franchises, 1990). 
p. 266. 

27. Guro , Nebesnye 'verbliuzhata. p. 3i. 

28. Alexei Kruchenykh, "New Ways of the Word," in Eagle and Lawton. eds. , Russian Futurism through 
Its Manifestoes, p. 73. 

29. From the standpoint of gender, Vselenskaia voma is a unique monument in the history of world 
art, since it was long attributed to a woman on the basis that a man was thought to be incapable 
of creating such a work. On the authorship, see Gerald Janacek, The Look of Russian Literature: 
Avant-garde Visual Experiments iyoo—ic/3o (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984,), pp. 
100-102; and Juliette R. Stapanian, "Universal War and the Development of 'Zaum': Abstraction 
Toward a New Pictorial and Literary Realism," Slavic and East European Journal 29 , no. 1 (1985), 
pp. 34-35. n. 2. 

30. Alexei Kruchenykh, "Declaration of the Word as Such," in Eagle and Lawton, eds., Russian 
Futurism, p. 67. 

3i. Quoted in Nina Gurianova, "SuprematismandTransrational Poetry," Elementa (Yverton, 

Switzerland) 1 (1994). p. 369. Gurianova has demonstrated that Kruchenykh was referring here 
to Rozanova's abstract collages. 

32. "Pisma K. S. Malevicha k M. V. Matiushinu," in Evgenii Kovtun et al., Ezhegodnik Rukopisnogo 
otdela Pushkinskogo doma na 1974 g (Leningrad: Nauka, 1976), p. 187. 

33. Olga Rozanova, "Cubism, Futurism. Suprematism," in From Paintingto Design: Russian 
Constructivist Art of the Twenties, exh. cat. (Cologne: Galerie Gmurzynska, 1981), p. 100. 

34. See Nina Gurianova, "Suprematism i tsvetopis,'" inViacheslavIvanov, ed.,Avangardvkrugu 
evwpeiskoi kultury (Moscow: RADIKS, 1993), pp. 142-58. 

35. Kazimir Malevich, "Izgnanie prirody, liubvi i iskrennosti iz predelovtvorchestva," in Alexandra 
Shatskikh, ed., Kazimir Malevich. Sobranie sochinenii v $tt. (Tom u Stati. manifesty. teoreticheskie 
sochineniia i drugie raboty. 1913-1929) (Moscow: Gileia, 1995), p. 82. 

36. Rozanova, "Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism," p. io3. 

37. Kruchenykh, "New Ways of the Word." in Eagle and Lawton, eds., Russian Futurism, p. 75. 

38. Quoted in Olga Rozanova. 1886-1918, exh. cat. (Helsinki: Helsinki City Museum, 1992), p. 37. 

39. Alexei Kruchenykh, Our Arrival: From, the Bistory of Russian Futurism. (Moscow: RA, 1995), p. 46. 

40. See Russian Futurism., p. 64. 

41. Quoted in Olga Rozanova. 1886—1918,^. 117. 

42. See John E. Bowlt, "Esoteric Culture and Russian Society." Maurice Tuchman, ed., The Spiritual in 
Art: Abstract Painting. /8i?o-iip8j (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art: New York: 
Abbeville Press, 1986), p. 178. 

43. Gurianova, "Suprematism and Transrational Poetry," p. 377. 

44. Quoted inVarvara Rodchenko, "Life and Art," in Lavrentiev and Bowlt, eds., Varvara Stepanova. 
p. 162. 

45. Alexander Lavrentiev and Varvara Rodchenko, Alexander Rodchenko.- Opytydlia budushchego 
(Moscow: Grant, 1996). p. 41. 

46. Ibid., p. 151. 



126 



47- Sergei Tretiakov, "Otkuda ikuda?" /^/'(Moscow), no. 16 (1924). pp. 192-203. 

48. Viktor Pertsov, "Grafik sovremennogo LEFa," Novja /^/"(Moscow), no. 1 (1927), p. 17. 

49. Elizaveta Lavinskaia, "Vospominaniia o vstrechakh s Maiakovskim," in Maiakovskii v vospomina- 
niakh rodnykh idruzei (Moscow: Moskovskii rabochii, 1968). p. 353. 

50. Christina Kiaer, "Rodchenko in Paris," October (New York), no. 75 (winter 1996). pp. 3-35. an ^ 
"Boris Arvatov's Socialist Objects." October, no. 81 (summer 1997). pp. 105-18. 

51. See the photograph illustrated in Lavrentiev and Bowlt. eds.. Van'araStepanova,\>. 100. 

52. Judging from Rodchenko's diaries and letters (see Lavrentiev and Rodchenko,. Alexander 
Rodchenko) , he was deeply in love with Lemberg and was considering leaving Stepanova for her, 
but Lemberg died in a train accident in the summer of 1934. . 



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figure 41 . Alexandra Exter, ca. 1912. 



aLexanDra 
exTer 



Georcn KovaLenKO 



Alexandra Alexandrovna Exter (1885-1949) is one of the brightest stars in the 
firmament of the Russian — or perhaps we should say, Ukrainian — avant-garde. 
Born in Ukraine, Exter grew up in Kiev, attended art school there, and developed 
a strong interest in national Ukrainian culture. 1 Although in the early 1900s Exter 
moved frequently between St. Petersburg, Moscow, Venice, and Paris, she always 
returned to Kiev — to her studio, her family, and her home, at least until she left 
for good in 1920. The city of Kiev was an important motif in her paintings; and in 
her conversations and correspondence as an emigre toward the end of her life, 
she continued to evoke the memory of the city of heryouth. 2 

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Ukrainian city of Kiev 
was very different from Russia's Moscow and St. Petersburg. Kiev was distant and 
insulated from the cultural mainstream of Russia and the West, although Exter. 
at least, did all she could to transplant new and experimental ideas directly onto 
Ukrainian soil. Thanks in no small degree to her advocacy, artists and intellectuals 
in Kiev were able to discover and appreciate trends such as Neo-Primitivism and 
Cubism. For example, Exter helped organize two avant-garde exhibitions in Kiev, 
The Link (1908) and The Ring (1914). There was also Vladimir Izdebsky's first 
international Salon, which traveled from Odessa to Kiev in 1910 and in which 
Exter played an important organizational role. 3 Here the Ukrainian public saw, 
for the first time, examples of the latest trends in French, German. Russian, and 
Ukrainian art — including David Burliuk's and Mikhail Larionov's Neo-Primitivist 

i3i 




figure 42. Exter (seated in center) and her students in Kiev, 
1918—19, in front of a panel painting by Pavel Tchelitchew, 
who is seated next to Exter.. 



compositions, Vasily Kandinsky's Improvisations, and Exter's first response to 
French Cubism. The Salon was a major artistic event, bringing the art of Giacomo 
Balla, Maurice Denis, Albert Gleizes, Alfred Kubin, Marie Laurencin, Henri Le 
Fauconnier, Henri Matisse, Jean Metzinger, Gabriele Miinter, and many other 
European artists to the attention of the Kiev public. 

In the early 1910s Kiev emerged rapidly as a center of intense intellectual and 
literary exploration. Not surprisingly, the Exter household welcomed many well- 
known and accomplished men and women of the time, including artists; Exter was 
especially close to the painter Alexander Bogomazov+ and the sculptor Alexander 
Archipenko.5 However, she discovered even deeper intellectual common ground 
with philosophers such as Nikolai Berdiaev and Lev Shestov, poets such as Anna 
Akhmatova, IvanAksenov, Benedikt Livshits, and Vladimir Makkoveiskii, musi- 
cians such as Pavel Kokhansky, Genrikh Neigauz, and Karol Szymanovsky, and 
patrons and cognoscenti such as the Khanenko and Tereshchenko families. It 
was in Kiev also that Exter cultivated an abiding interest in Ukrainian folk culture, 
which she studied, promoted, and exhibited, often incorporating indigenous 
iconographic references into her own studio work. 

Between 1918 and 1930, in the wake of war and insurrection, Kiev became a 
city of violence and devastation. Stranded in Kiev and thus isolated from Europe, 
Moscow, and St. Petersburg, Exter worked harder than ever before, and, despite 
the chaos and confusion of the ever-shifting conditions produced by revolution 
and counterrevolution, Exter helped maintain Kiev as a major center for artistic 



ceorcn KovaLenxo 



experiment. Her studio there brought together not only artists and writers, but also 
theater directors and choreographers such as Les Kurbas, Konstantin Mardzhanov, 
and Bronislava Nijinska. Above all, Exter nurtured an entire generation of aspiring 
painters who came to her for lessons and advice — some of whom, such as 
Alexander Khvostenko-Khvostov, Vadim Meller, and Anatolii Petritsky, would 
achieve solid reputations as designers for the Soviet stage. 

Exter first went to Paris in the fall of 1907, just as Cubism was evolving into 
a distinct and sophisticated style, and she was quick to understand its potential. 
However, Exter did not study Cubism in formal classes, as her Russian colleagues 
Liubov Popova and Nadezhda Udaltsova did under Jean Metzinger and Henri Le 
Fauconnier. Instead, she learned about Cubism through personal contact with 
its inventors, for by the end of 1907, poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire and 
painter Serge Ferat had introduced her to Picasso, Braque, and poet Max Jacob, 
and shortly thereafter she met both Fernand Leger and Ardengo Soffici. In the 
clear, lucid principles of the Cubism of Braque and Picasso, Exter found partial 
answers to the problems of the correlation of volume and surface, texture and 
form, composition and rhythm. But she found it difficult to accept what the Cubists 
were saying about color or how they were applying it (or not applying it) , because 
to Exter color was everything— it was the alpha and omega of the art of painting. 
In Braque's and Picasso's still lifes of 1911-1?, the object and its environment are 
interdependent, whereas in Exter's they are clearly separate and almost 
autonomous, active and energetic in their own right. Decorative surfaces approach 
the objects, surrounding and dominating them. Exter removes figuration, while 
retaining a definite order. The result is the construction of a Cubist style that 
touches every object and every form, but it is a Cubist style distinguished by a 
remarkable vitality of color, deriving more from the rich traditions of the 
Ukrainian decorative arts than from the sober conventions of Braque and Picasso. 

There is reason to believe that Exter was responsible for introducing the term 
"Cubo- Futurism" into the Bussian lexicon, for she happened to be in Paris in 
October 1913, just as Marcel Boulangerwas coining and promoting the term. 6 At 
any rate, Exter employed "Cubo- Futurism" on many occasions, trying to adapt it 
to the exigencies of the Russian artistic environment which until that point had 
preferred the impetus of Gleizes, Metzinger, and Le Fauconnier. Aware of both 
Cubism and Futurism from her trips to Paris and Milan, Exter tried to combine 
both tendencies in a stylistic amalgam that she tailored to Bussian and Ukrainian 
subject matter. Thus, she could render an Italian city in a Cubist and even 
Simultanist manner (she was acquainted with the Delaunays in Paris), while also 
including references to the colorful patterns of Ukrainian Easter eggs. 

In the mid 1910s, Exter painted many cityscapes, often nocturnal, such as City 
at Night, 1915 (fig. 43) and Florence, 1914-15 (fig. 44). These are not mere render- 

i33 



aLexarmra exTer 



ings of urban scenes, but fleeting experiments in bold and dynamic color compo- 
sitions charged with the energy of movement. In City at Night , for example, lumi- 
nous surfaces pile up, slide off, collide, and combine to form fantastic 
constructions. The light, which moves from the concrete to the conditional, from 
the cohesion of forms to their individual elements, is intensified by dazzling colors 
and fast movement, a combination that brings to mind the concurrent experi- 
ments of Giacomo Balla and Umberto Boccioni. However, Exter did not fully 
embrace the doctrine of Italian Futurism, even if the first Futurist manifestos and 
exhibitions (such as those in Paris in 191?) coincided with her own aesthetic ideas 
during the 1910s, and often the Italian statements could have been her own: "It is 
essential to impart a dynamic feeling, that is, the special rhythm of every object, its 
inclination, its movement, or. shall we say, its inner force. . . . Our bodies enter the 
couches we sit on, and the couches enter us. The bus rushes toward the buildings 
it passes and, in its turn, the buildings rush toward the bus and merge with it."? 

Although Exter acknowledged the value of Italian Futurism, she did not follow 
blindly and was not especially interested in the vehicle hurtling through space that 
so fascinated Boccioni and his colleagues. Of course, movement — both its antici- 
pation and actuality — was very important to Exter's pictorial philosophy, and, like 
the Italians, she tended to ecniate movement and rhythm. It is in the rhythmic 
structures of her painting that the potential for movement resides; and for Exter — 
as for Boccioni — rhythm was a primary component of movement. Her ideas about 
rhythm were also similar to those of radical Moscow critic Nikolai Tarabukhin, who 
wrote in 1916 (just as Exter was developing her theories): "As an element of move- 
ment, rhythm is an illustration. . . . Rhythm presumes stability, on the basis of 
which its free impulse unfolds." 8 

Yakov Tugendkhold. a strong advocate of Exter's oeuvre, wrote in his biography 
of her in 1933: "[Exter's] 'non-objective' works produce a strange and unsettling 
impression. The gaze of the viewer . . . searches first of all for human content, 
analogies, and suggestions of various kinds of customary concrete images — and is 
about to turn away in futile disappointment. . . . However, it is impossible to turn 
away, foryou begin to sense the enchantment, cold and pure, like music, of these 
suspensions and declivities of multi-colored forms amidst the endless space of 
the white canvas. . . . This is no portrait, landscape, or still life; this is some kind 
of 'world in the clouds," in which abide only pure concepts of painting, concepts 
of space and depth, balance and movement. "9 These "pure concepts of painting" 
inform all of Exter's art, including the studio paintings and the stage designs, 
especially in her treatment and manipulation of color. 

Explosions of color are a characteristic feature of Exter's painting. If. in 
Picasso's painting, form often absorbs color, Exter's colors overflow, transcending 
the laws and conventions of composition, as if to emphasize that the intrinsic laws 

134 



ceoron KovaLeiiKo 





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left: 

figure 43. aLexanDra exTer 

City at Night, 1915 

Oil on canvas. 88 x 71 cm 

State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg 

below: 

figure 44. aLexanDra exTer 

Florence. 1914-15 

Oil on canvas. 91 x 78 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow 




'35 



jfeA [ i 



of color are just as essential as those of any other entity. Exter's colors tend to 
"explode" beyond the boundaries of a given form, producing liberated and almost 
independent zones of color, which, however, serve as reflections of, or commen- 
taries on, the formal shapes within the painting. 

Exter came to nonobjective painting gradually and consistently, with the 
Cubo- Futurist phase already containing the basic elements of the more advanced, 
abstract experiments (as in, for example, Cityscape (Composition) , ca. 1916 
[plate 8]). She gave straightforward names to her non-objective paintings, such 
as Composition: Movement of Planes, 1917—18 (plate 10) , Non-Objective Composition, 
1917 (plate 9), and Construction of Color Planes , 1931 (plate 11). Such paintings give 
the impression of being cool, calculated arrangements of forms and colors, deter- 
mined by the logic of carefully worked out aesthetic principles — but Exter's tem- 
perament and individuality could never be tamed and tempered by the sobriety of 
mere logic or calculation. True, Exter often described her non-objective composi- 
tions using terms from physics such as speed and acceleration, vector and mass, 
energy and direction; and, as in the world of physics, her non-objective composi- 
tions are never static, creating an almost hypnotic impression of constant change 
and evolution. Yet for all their sophistication, Exter's abstract paintings seem also 
to derive from a more local, domestic source, for the angularities of these works 
bring to mind the zigzag lines of flowers in Ukrainian peasant paintings: certainly, 
her triangles, trapezoids, and rhomboids suggest an immediate affinity with 
Ukrainian ornament. 

Exter's Cubo-Futurist and non-objective experiments marked the high point 
of her artistic career — and she applied them to many of her concurrent activities, 
especially her work for Alexander Tairov's productions at the Moscow Chamber 
Theater: Innokentii Annensky's Th.amira Khytharedes (1916), Oscar Wilde's 
Salome (1917), and William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1931)- Critic Abram 
Efros described Exter's sets for Thamira Khytharedes as a "festive parade of 
Cubism"' — an apt description, inasmuch as Exter was the first to bring Cubism 



i36 




facing page: 

figure 45. Oscar Wilde's Salome, produced 
at the Chamber Theater. Moscow, with set and 
costume designs by Exter. 1917. 

left: 

figure 46. The balcony scene in William Shakespeare's 
Romeo and Juliet, produced at the Chamber Theater. 
Moscow, with set and costume designs by Exter. 1921.. 



to the Russian stage and to demonstrate how Cubist painting could respond to 
the discipline of theater. In fact, Exter's stage designs opened a new era, for she 
no longer subordinated the set and costume to a purely utilitarian function but 
exposed the active or kinetic element so as to complement and extend the action 
of the plot. 

With its vitality of color, the Tairov/Exter Salome production was also "festive," 
although it was the evocation of colored, volumetrical space and the extension of 
that space beyond the proscenium that surprised and delighted. Her designs for 
Romeo and Julie t were even more dynamic: unpredictable in their physical contrast, 
interaction of mass, and convergence and divergence of line, with a constant inter- 
play of forms, colors, light, and shade in which the space itself became a principal 
"character." The sets were integrated with the intricate system of curtains, which 
fell from above and moved apart diagonally, parallel to the footlights, dividing or 
reducing or expanding the space of the stage . The curtains were also used to intro - 
duce each episode with a particular color, be it lemon, violet, orange, or crimson. 
We can understand why Efros referred to this Romeo and Juliet as a "most Cubist 
Cubism in a most Baroque Baroque."" Here and elsewhere, Exter's ideas about 
costumes were no less radical, for she insisted on the need for the costumes to 
interact organically with the sets or backdrops, so that their planar divisions and 
volumetrical interrelationships would correspond to the equivalent plastic rela- 
tionships established within the broader space of the stage. 

The Tairov productions brought Exter widespread recognition as a stage 
designer, and thenceforth the performing arts continued to play a major role in 
her career. For example, she collaborated with dancer Elza Kriuger and choreogra- 
pher Bronislava Nijinska in Berlin and Paris; the focus of her exhibitions in Berlin, 
London, Paris, and Prague in the 1920s was on her work for the theater, the ballet, 
the movies, and marionettes; and in the 1920s she taught stage design at Leger's 
art school in Paris, the Academie Moderne. In 1980 she published a set of experi- 
mental projects for the stage in Alexandra Exter-. Decors de Theatre, an anthology of 



,:>,- 




figure 47. aixxanDra exier 

Clothing designs, 1923 
Illustration accompanying Exter's article 
"Prostota i praktichnost v odezhde," 
in Krasnaia niva (Moscow), no. 21 
(May 27, 1923), p. 3i 



designs and proposals for the circus, operettas and revues, and drama (with an 
introduction by Tairov) . Well after she emigrated, Exter found solace in the the- 
ater, creating designs for costumes and sets for plays by Aeschylus and Sophocles, 
though without any specific commission or production in mind. During the 1980s 
Exter also returned to the theme of the commedia deH'arte, the personages of 
her paintings and drawings becoming ballerinas and acrobats. Even her ceramic 
designs and the several maquettes that she made for editions in the 1980s (most 
of them, unfortunately, not published) carry references to the theater. 

Exter was an important member of the international avant-garde. She partici- 
pated in the major Russian exhibitions such as Tramway 1^(1915) and The Store 
(1916); was a colleague of Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, and 
Nadezha Udaltsova; and constantly traveled in the 1910s, serving as an important 
link between Russia and France and Italy. 

Remembered also as a teacher, Exter molded an entire school of younger 
Ukrainian and Russian artists, some of whom became well known in Europe and 
the United States, such as Simon Lissim and Pavel Tchelitchew. Her talent as an 
artist overflowed into many related fields, including interior design (as in the 
Kriuger apartment in Berlin in the 1930s), exhibition design (the All -Union 
Agricultural Exhibition in Moscowin 1938), clothing design (forthe Atelier fashion 
house in Moscowin 1938), book design (Ivan Aksenov's poetry), and movie-set 
design (forthe Martian sequence inYakov Protazanov's film Aelita in 1934). An 
inspiration to many, the strangely proper Exter was regarded as the ultimate 
arbiter of improper taste, praising the great cathedrals of France, yet fascinated 
by a single flower on a Ukrainian costume, championing the complex schemes of 
Cubism and yet welcoming the fresh and savage art of the Russian avant-garde. 



i38 




figure 48. aLexarmra exTer with 
Boris GLaDKOv anD vera muKHina 

Design for the Izvestiia Pavilion at the All-Union 
Agricultural Exhibition, Moscow, 1933 



1. Exter was born in Belostok (now Poland); she moved with her parents to Kiev when she 
was sixteen. 

2. See, for example, Exter's letters to Vera Mukhina in RGALI (inv. no. 2326, op. 1). 

3. It was Exter's idea to organize the two Salons that Izdebsky financed and toured in 1910 and 1911. 
For information on these two Salons, including the Kiev venue, see Dmitrii Severiukhin, 
"Vladimir Izdebsky and His Salons," Experiment (Los Angeles), no. 1 (1995), pp. 57—71. 

4. The Kiev artist Alexander Konstantinovich Bogomazov (1880—19.30) was one of the most original 
members of the Cubo - Futurist movement. Of particular interest is his treatise Painting and Its 
Elements. For information on Bogomazov, see Andre B. Nakov, Alexandre Bogomazov, exh. cat. 
(Toulouse: Musee d'Art Moderne, 1991); and Dmitrii Gorbachev's Introduction in Alexander 
Bogomazov, Zhivopis ta elementi [Painting and Its Elements] (Kiev: Popova, 1996). 

5. Exter made the acquaintance of Archipenko while they were both students at the Kiev Art 
Institute. She also attended Archipenko's first exhibition in Kiev in 1906. 

6. See Giovanni Lista. "Futurisme et cubofuturisme," Cahiers du Musee national d'art moderne 
(Paris), no. 5 (1980), p. 459. 

7. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, "Futurizm," in Genrikh Tasteven. ed., Futurizm (Moscow: Iris, 
1914), pp. 143-44. 

8. Nikolai Tarabukin. Opyt teorii zhwopisi (Moscow: Vserossiiskii proletkult, 1923), p. 39. 

9. YakovTugendkhold,.4ie.Tandra£rterfcafcz/iii'opsets 1 khudozhmk stsenr (Berlin: Zaria 1922), p. 10. 

10. Abram Efros, Khudozhniki Kamemogo teatra (Moscow: VTO, 1934), p. xxiv. 

11. Ibid., pp. xxxii-xxxiii. 



139 



aLexanDra aLexariDrovna exTer 

(nee Grigorovich) 
(1882-1949) 



1882 Born January 6, Belostok, near Kiev. 

1892—99 Attends the St. Olga Women's Gymnasium in Kiev. 

1901—03 Attends the Kiev Art Institute. 

1904 Marries her cousin. Nikolai Exter, a lawyer. 

1906—08 Reenrolls in the Kiev Art Institute. 

1907 Begins visiting Paris and other European cities. 

1908 Takes part in several Kiev exhibitions, including the avant-garde show 
The Link. Produces her first book illustrations. 

1909—14 Travels and lives abroad frequently. Becomes acquainted with 

Apollinaire. Braque. Picasso. Soffici. and many other members of the 
international avant-garde. 

1910 Contributes to The Triangle and Union of Youth exhibitions in 

St. Petersburg. 

1910-11 Contributes to the first Jack of Diamonds exhibition in Moscow. 

1912—13 Moves to St. Petersburg. Continues to contribute to major exhibitions. 

1913—14 Lives mainly in France. 

1915 Influenced by Malevich and Tatlin, begins to investigate non- 

objective painting. 

1915—16 Contributes to the exhibitions Tramway Fand The Store. 

1916—17 Begins her professional theater work with designs for Thamira 

Khytharedes in 1916 and Salome in 1917. both produced by Alexander 
Tairov at the Chamber Theater, Moscow. 

1918 Nikolai Exter dies. 

1918—19 Opens her own studio in Kiev: among her students are many artists 
who later achieve success, such as Isaak Rabinovich, Pavel 
Tchelitchew r , and Alexander Tyshler. 

1918—20 Works intermittently in Odessa as a teacher and stage designer. 

1920 Moves to Moscow. Marries Georgii Nekrasov, an actor. Works at the 
Theater of the People's House. 

1921 Contributes to the exhibition $x$ = 25 in Moscow. 

1921—22 Teaches at Vkhutemas. Contributes to Erste russische Kunstausstellung 
at the Galerie Van Diemen in Berlin, which travels to the Stedelijk 
Museum in Amsterdam the following spring. 



140 



CHfOnOLOGY 



19^3 Turns to textile and fashion design for the Atelier of Fashions in 

Moscow. Is a member of the design team for the Izvestiia Pavilion at 
the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition in Moscow. Begins work on the 
costumes for Yakov Protazanov's movie Aelita. 

1924 Emigrates to Paris. Contributes to the Venice Biennale. Works for 
Russian ballet companies with Leon Zack and Pavel Tchelitchew. 
Teaches at Fernand Leger's Academie Moderne. 

1925 Contributes to the Exposition Internationale desArts Decoratifs et 
Industriels Modernes in Paris. Continues to work on stage design and 
interior design (which she will do throughout the 1920s and 1930s); 
designs costumes for seven ballets performed by Bronislava Nijinska's 
Theatre Choreographique. 

19^7 Exhibition at Der Sturm, Berlin. 

1929 Exhibition at Galerie des Quatre Chemins, Paris. 

1936 Illustrates several elegant children's books, beginning with her own 
Monjardin (1936). 

1937 Exhibition at the Musee des Arts et Metiers, Paris. 
1949 Dies March 17, in Paris. 



141 




142 




facing page: 

plate l.aLexanDra exTer 

f/ir lirul«e (.SV'i res) 1912 

Oil on canvas, 145 x 115 cm 

National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kiev 

above: 

plate 2. aLexarmra exTer 

Composition (Genoa). 1912—14 
Oil on canvas, 115.5x86.5 cm 
Museum Ludwig, Cologne 



143 




plate 3. aLexanDra exTer 

City, 1913 

Oil on canvas, 88.5x70.5 cm 
Regional Picture Gallery, Vologda 



144 




plate4. aLexarmra exTer 

Stiff Life. ca. 1913 

Collage and oil on canvas. 68 x 53 cm 

MuseoThyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid 



'45 




plate 5. aLexanora exTer 

Still Life. Bowl of Cherries, 1914 

Oil on canvas, 89 x 72 cm 

Rostov Kremlin State Museum Preserve 



146 




plate 6. aLexanDra exTer 

Composition. 1914 

Oil on canvas. 90.7x72.5 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow 



147 




plate 7. aLexariDra exTer 

Venice. 1915 

Oil on canvas, i^3 x 97 cm 

Moderna Museet, Stockholm 



148 




plate 8. aLexarmra exTer 

Cityscape (Composition), ca. 1916 

Oil on canvas, 1 17 x 88 cm 

Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 



149 




above: 

plate 9. aLexanDra exTer 

Non- Objective Composition, 1917 

Oil on canvas, 71 x 53 era 

Krasnodar District Kovalenko Art Museum 

facing page: 

plate 10. aLexanDra exTer 

Composition. Movement of Planes . 1917—18 

Oil on canvas. 92.5 x 76.9 cm 

State Museum of Visual Arts. Nizhmi Tagil 



1 5° 




W 




plate 1 1 . aLexanDra exTer 

Construction of Color Planes . 1921 

Oil on canvas, 89 x 89 cm 

State Radischev Art Museum, Saratov 



!52 




plate 12. aLexarmra exrer 

Construction, 1922— 23 

Oil on canvas, 89.8 x 89.2 cm 

The Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation (partial gift). 



'53 




figure 49. Natalia Goncharova, Paris, ca. 1915. 



naTana 
GoncHarova 



jane a. SHarp 



naTaLia GoncHarova: Lives of THe arnsT 

In an essay that remains the best study on Goncharova to date, poet Marina 
Tsvetaeva distinguishes Goncharova's biography, her "outer life," from her cre- 
ative work and persona. This "inner life" cannot be distilled into a narrative of 
historical and personal events, for it is shaped through the agency that the painter 
demonstrates in her art. Goncharova transcends rather than succumbs to "daily 
life" (bp. in Russian).' Today it is less difficult to argue that Goncharova requires 
biographical, historical representation. We now know that she viewed her own cre- 
ative practices as repetitive, exhausting work, and that her art directly engaged the 
conditions and prejudices of everyday life, particularly insofar as they determined 
her experiences as a woman. Indeed, Tsvetaeva's approach is somewhat contradic- 
tory. Goncharova's identity as an artist is framed by two poles within her biogra- 
phy, i.e., her life in Russia and her life as an emigre, "after Russia" — the point 
at which the poet reconnected with the painter, former neighbors who met each 
other first in Moscow but became friends only as expatriates in Paris. 2 

Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova was born on June 21. 1881 (the same year as 
Larionov. Picasso, and Leger) in the village of Nagaevo, in the Chern district of 
Tula province. 3 Goncharova's immediate family were politically liberal and well- 
educated members of the rural gentry. Her father, Sergei, an architect (graduate of 
the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture), designed and built 



'55 



naraua conc-Harova 



their Moscow home onTrekhprudnyi Lane. Goncharova and her younger brother, 
Afanasii, were raised and educated primarily by their mother and paternal grand- 
mother in family homes in the Orlov and Tula provinces. Goncharova moved to 
Moscow in 1893 to attend the Fourth Women's Gymnasium, from which she gradu- 
ated in 1898. After several false starts in history, zoology, botany, and medicine, 
Goncharova finally decided on a career as a sculptor and entered the Moscow 
Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture in the fall of 1901. 

Goncharova experienced the contradictions between city and country as a cri- 
sis in her life — one that places her work within the continuum of European (and 
Russian) Modernism. Bridges between workaday, urban Moscow and summer 
retreats to the country are everywhere apparent in her art. Photographs of the 
family estate show her playing peasant, dressed in local clothing, but wearing city 
shoes. Agroup of three early self-portraits reveal her interest in elite masquerades 
as well; in one, she depicts herself as an 1 840s gentlewoman relaxing at home in 
her morning dress; the others focus on her identity as a painter (see Self-Portrait 
with Yellow Lilies , 1907, plate i3). In these paintings, we see the continuity of 
"outer" and "inner" lives mapped out in the congruence of images and realities. 
Rural Russia emerges complete from the painter's Moscow studio. Self-Portrait 
with Yellow Lilies, one painted frame abuts and is contained within the actual 
picture frame — underscoring the self- conscious mastery of the artist and to expe - 
riences both lived and imagined. 

russia: POLOTniarm zavoD 

Goncharova's early pastels and paintings draw on her rural environs, particularly 
the family's main estate in Kaluga province, named Polotnianyi Zavod in reference 
to the paper (formerly textile) factory that occupied the same grounds as the pala- 
tial dwelling.* Descriptions of life on the estate suggest a blurring of boundaries of 
class, work, leisure, and culture that may be associated with liberal reform efforts 
in late -nineteenth- and early-twentieth- century Russia. The estate's owner, 
Dmitrii Dmitrievich Goncharov, himself a talented amateur singer, maintained a 
"worker's" theater on the grounds and was married to a star in Sergei Zimin's 
Moscow opera company. Both of them performed and invited others to participate 
in evenings of music and drama. Among the more celebrated visitors during 
Goncharova's era was theater critic Anatolii Lunacharsky (later Lenin's Commissar 
of Enlightenment). 5 

Given the frequent travel between family homes, it is likely that Goncharova 
witnessed some of the theatrical performances at Polotnianyi Zavod, although she 
does not mention them in any of her autobiographical sketches. Instead, what 
impressed her most were the daily activities of the servants and peasants who lived 

!5 6 



rPHMACM Bl> MCKVCCTB'b. 





TeiTpi. 






* .*<,»* 



Ha ii e p c .i o m h. 



figure50. "Grimaces inArt. In Connection with the Project for a 
Theater of the Futurists." Photograph of Natalia Goncharova 
(captioned "Initial makeup for an actress of the Futurist theater") 
and Mikhail Larionov (captioned "Male head ornament for the 
stage by M. Larionov") (1913). Reproduced in Teatr v karnkaturakh 
(Moscow), no. 3 (September 21. 1913). p. 9. 



on the property. 6 Views and reconstructed maps of the estate give some indication 
of the proximity of the factory, farming, and the peasant dwellings that stretch 
just beyond the Sukhodrev river that runs through the estate. A series of inter- 
connected ponds, artificially maintained with supplies of fish for the benefit of 
the local population, are depicted in Goncharova's fishing cycle. Her farming 
cycle and a number of gardening images can also be identified with specific land- 
scapes at Polotnianyi Zavod during the years 1906—09 when she regularly returned 
there to paint ." 

LiFe jiito arT: THe moscow insTiTUTe anD 
THe inDepenDenT exHiBiTion 

Goncharova's training in the visual arts reflects both the limits of official art insti- 
tutions—which at the turn of the century no longer segregated male and female 
students, but denied women equal rights upon completion of the degree — and the 
importance of independent studios. Goncharova's claim that she had little training 



■-- 



naraua coticHarova 




HaTanbn foHnapOBa. 




IlIapHcb Maxa. 



1910-1911 r.r. 
flEKA6Pb dHBflPb 



strum BUCTABBH 

.,B»5H0Bblfl B/U1ETV 



far left: 

figure 51. ITiaK [Pavel Petrovich Ivanov] 

Natalia Goncharova, 1914 

Ink on paper, 15 x 13.5 cm 

Courtesy of Dimitri Dourdine-Mak. Brussels 

left: 

figure 53. naTana GoncHarova 

(attributed to) 

Cover of the Jack of Diamonds 

exhibition catalogue, Moscow, 1910 



as a painter is belied by numerous sources. She attended the Moscow Institute infre- 
quently following her receipt of a small silver medal for sculpture (1903— 04), yet she 
did not officially withdraw until 1909. 8 From at least 1908, she both taught and 
attended classes given at Ilia Mashkov's and Alexander Mikhailovsky's studio on Malyi 
Kharitonevskii Lane in Moscow. 9 It was here that she studied and made numerous 
sketches of the male and female nude, completing the studio exercises that would have 
concluded her course of study at the Moscow Institute. While at the Moscow Institute, 
Goncharova had met Larionov; soon after he moved into the Goncharov house, where 
together they maintained a studio and living quarters. 10 Clearly, he was her most 
important instructor, at times repainting or correcting her work." Memoirs of col- 
leagues and friends underscore the reciprocity of their relationship and the central 
place it occupied in Moscow's bohemian circles. 13 

The Moscow Institute studios, Larionov's in particular, provided Goncharova with 
her immediate milieu: the cast of ever shifting participants in the avant-garde exhibi- 
tions organized in Moscow. Following the January 1910 mass expulsion of students 
from Konstantin Korovin's portrait -genre class for their imitation of contemporary 
European Modernist painting, a group consisting of Larionov, Robert Falk, Petr 
Konchalovsky, Alexander Kuprin, Mashkov (expelled the year earlier), and others 
formed the first radical Muscovite independent exhibiting group, which Larionov 
named the Jack of Diamonds — a provocative title that evoked associations with boule - 
vard literature and the identifying pattern on prison uniforms. Goncharova exhibited 
her Primitivist and Cubist paintings in that group's first show, which took place in 
December 1910—1911, and was prominently reviewed in the press. She dominated 
a subsequent exhibition. The Donkey's Tail, organized by Larionov and held in 
March— April 191?, with more than fifty-five of her paintings in the first hall of the 
gallery space. The other major Moscow shows in which she participated were The Target 
(March-April 1913), and No. 4 (March— April 1914). Larionov may be credited with 



158 




figure 53. naTaua GoncHarova 

Archistrategus Michael, 1914 

Sheet no. 7 in album of lithographs, Misticheskie obrazy 

winy, 1914; 3^-5 x 2 4-^ cm 

Private collection. 



promoting her career over his own in these exhibitions and with arranging her 
retrospectives in 191.3 (Moscow) and 1914 (St. Petersburg).' 3 

Quite apart from Larionov's efforts on her behalf, Goncharova played a unique 
role among the Russian, specifically Muscovite, avant-garde. She put into practice 
many of the aesthetic programs advanced by him and others. Moreover, her oeuvre 
in its wide - ranging dialogue with both Eastern and Western traditions served as 
a catalyst for several movements and manifestos, and she pioneered both Cubo - 
Futurism (see Airplane over a Train, 1913, plate zz) and Rayism (see Yellow and 
Green Forest, 1913, plate 24) in paintings, publications, and exhibitions. 

Although dating Goncharova's shifts in her pre— World War I style remains 
problematic, her participation in the exhibitions mentioned above and her state- 
ments, including the catalogue essay for her Moscow retrospective (coauthored by 
Larionovand IliaZdanevich), charted the course for the Moscow avant-garde's 
orientation toward both Western European Modernism and the visual traditions 
of the East. She declared in a press interview of April 1910 to be inspired by the 
"sculptural clarity" of Le Fauconnier, Picasso, and Braque, but her first "Cubist" 
works are dated to at least the year before. By 191? she claimed to be deriving her 
Cubist style from the forms of Scythian stone statues (kamennye baby) (see Peasants 
Gathering Grapes, 191?, plate 19) and Russia's popular arts — the latter familiar to 
the artist from childhood. '+ In an account of The Donkey's Tail and The Target exhi- 
bitions, author Varsanofii Parkin (possibly a pseudonym for Larionov) attributes 
to Goncharova the decision to "fight against Cezanne and Picasso and not Repin 
and Raphael." a policy that was perhaps more significant as a polemical tool than as 
actual practice's 

Undoubtedly, Goncharova's oeuvre inspired the theory and nationalist rheto- 
ric of Neo-Primitivism as it was publicized by Larionov, Alexander Shevchenko, 
and Zdanevich in 1913. Drawing on the formal tradition of French avant-garde 



'59 



naTaLia coiiCHarova 




figure 54. naTaLia GoncHarova 

The Bicyclist, 1912-13 

Oil on canvas, 78 x 105 cm 

State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg 



jane a. sHarp 



painting and Russian decorative and Byzantine models, this theory promoted 
dual readings of images and the assimilative (rather than exclusionistic) character 
of Russian national identity. The hybrid nature of Russian Modernism was 
manifested most dramatically in Goncharova's religious images. Works such as 
The Evangelists, 1911 (plate 17) model their formal effects on the icon, the broad- 
sheet, and the Western European Modernists Cezanne and Matisse. The fact that 
such eclectic sources within her work can be traced back to images painted and 
exhibited much earlier (in the Golden Fleece exhibitions of 1908—09, for example) 
has been one of the justifications for antedating Neo-Primitivism as a movement 
and a style to those years.' 6 

The last avant-garde movement with which Goncharova may be identified in 
Russia — vsechestvo (everythingism) —was an extension of Neo-Primitivism. 
Zdanevich, the author of Goncharova's first biography (as the pseudonymious 
Eli Eganbiuri), gave two lectures on her, the first in Moscow on November 5, 1913 
(the closing day of Goncharova's Moscow retrospective) and the second in St. 
Petersburg on March 17, 1914, a few days after the opening of her retrospective in 
that city. '? Both of Zdanevich's lectures focused on her deliberate multiplicity as an 
artist as a way of countering the hegemony of European Modernist movements and 
art criticism. He argues that it is futile for a Russian artist to seek stable referents 
within Modernist art while basing one's art on Russian examples. New art should 
aspire to heterogeneity: diverse cultural traditions (East and West) and period 
styles (Cubism and Futurism) maybe assimilated together. In vsechestvo, decora- 
tive and ornamental practices that are continuous in Russia and the East are pro- 
moted with a view to erasing boundaries between origin and copy — Goncharova's 
modus operandi. 

Goncharova's voice is arguably present in Zdanevich's writings. Among her 
last Russian polemical writings (written in the same period as Zdanevich's lec- 
tures) is a letter she drafted in 1914 to the head of the Italian Futurist movement, 
Filippo Tomasso Marinetti, which accused the Italians of generating a new 
academy — and echoes the priorities of vsechestvo to be free and untrammeled 
by preordained artistic laws. The notion of European Modernist movements 
becoming canonical and losing their radical force would be a recurring motif in 
Larionov's writings from the 1930s to the 1950s on the history of Cubism as the 
new academy. As emigres, all three — Goncharova, Larionov, and Zdanevich — 
would continue to represent their activities in Moscow as a decentering of Russia's 
European legacy. 

Goncharova's solo exhibitions of 1910, 1913, and 1914 were landmarks in the 
history of avant-garde public provocations, polarizing an already partisan critical 
press. Her first solo exhibition — held for only a single evening, on March 24, 
1910, by the Society of Free Aesthetics in Moscow — made her uniquely visible as 

l6l 



naTaLia concHarova 



an artist; it led to her trial (with several members of the Society) for pornography 
on December ?2, iqio.' 8 Her religious paintings were physically removed by the 
police from several exhibitions, including The Donkey's Tail of 1912, and again 
at the St. Petersburg retrospective in March 1914,. Denounced as the work of an 
"anti-artist, "'9 a blasphemous counterpart to the "Antichrist," her religious paint- 
ings were temporarily banned by the Ecclesiastical Censorship Committee of 
the Holy Synod. so 

Goncharova's notoriety as a radical painter was paired with public and critical 
acclaim. In 1913 the acquisitions committee for the Tretiakov Gallery bought their 
first painting by Goncharova after the extraordinary success of her Moscow retro- 
spective. 21 The first full-scale retrospective in the capital to show the work of an 
avant-garde artist, it was also the first for a woman artist (sponsored by one of 
Moscow's first art dealers, also a woman, Klavdiia Mikhailova) and contained more 
than 760 works. If she was an "anti-artist" and the "suffragist of Russian painting" 
she was also, as one critic put it, an "overnight sensation." Nowhere in the history 
of Russian Modernism was there a more striking collusion of the disruptive pro- 
motion of "new" painting and its assimilation. During these years, Goncharova 
designed textiles, clothing, and wallpaper, and she planned to publish her own 
broadsheets. She thus initiated an interchange between fine and popular arts that 
became the focus of post -Revolutionary avant-garde projects. When Larionov and 
Goncharova left Moscow for Paris to mount their set designs for the ballet Le Coq 
d Or (fig. 6; with music by Rimsky-Korsakovand choreography by Michel Fokine) 
for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, Goncharova was at the peak of her Russian career. 
A model for her generation, and particularly for women artists such as Sofiia 
Dymshits-Tolstaia and Nadezhda Udaltsova (both of whom wrote about the posi- 
tive impact that Goncharova's studio visits had on them), she had demonstrated 
for the first time in the history of Russian art what each still hoped to achieve. — 

-aFTer russia": DiaGHnevs commissions anD LiFe in emiGraTion 

Goncharova and Larionov left Moscow for Paris on April 29, 1914, although with 
the last phase of Larionov's service in the Russian Imperial army falling due, both 
returned to Moscow shortly thereafter. 23 Her first sets for Le Coq d 'Or (painted by 
both Larionov and Goncharova) were spectacular displays of color and simplified 
form that Parisian viewers appreciated as exotic and as properly Russian. Based on 
its success, the productions that followed, including several unrealized ones, such 
as Liturgie (1915), continued to draw on Russia's Byzantine and folk heritage. These 
sets and costumes established a new key in Russian Orientalist self- fashioning, 
which forever marked Goncharova as a Russian artist rather than a transnational 
avant-garde artist of the time. 

16? 



jane a. sHarp 



Their life as emigres was consumed by theater, writing, traveling, as well as 
installing (Larionov), painting (Goncharova), and waiting. Letters to friends over 
the course of the 1920s and memoirs written in the Stalinist era underscore how 
much both artists longed to return to Russia. Occasionally finances are blamed, at 
other times they recognize the potential dangers that awaited them as former lead- 
ers of the pre -Revolutionary avant-garde. In 1917—18 Goncharova spoke of her 
excitement over the Revolution and the urgent need for news of political events, 
just as in the 1930s she lamented its diabolical about-face. Her level of political 
engagement is not clear during the pre -Revolutionary period. Rut numerous illus- 
trations for the Socialist journal Lepopulaire in Paris (edited by Oreste Rosenfeld 
and Leon Rlum), suggest that Goncharova was sympathetic to leftist politics in 
Europe. 2 + 

In Paris, Goncharova was a more productive painter than Larionov, working in 
cycles (as she did before emigrating), beginning with the Spanish women in the 
1910s and 1920s and ending with her exploration of space motifs: images with 
planet- and meteor-shaped forms inspired by the first Russian Sputnik launch in 
the 1950s. Her shifts in style correspond loosely to shifts in the School of Paris — 
her paintings in the 1910s and 1920s move from a Cubist idiom to a more neoclas- 
sical treatment of the figure. It is clear, too, that Goncharova was engaged in 
repainting earlier images either by adding decorative elements to the surfaces of 
pre -Revolutionary works or by repainting whole portions of the canvas. Obviously, 
this has further compromised the historical reconstruction of her career, a project 
that will require years of comparative, collaborative work among scholars. 

On June 2, 1955, after decades of living together and following Larionov's 
stroke (in 1951), the two artists married in Paris so as to ensure each the benefits of 
any inheritance following their death. Nearly paralyzed with rheumatoid arthritis, 
Goncharova died first, on October 17, 1962. 

1. Marina Tsvetaeva, "Natalia Goncharova (zhizni tvorchestvo)," VoliaRossu (Prague), nos. V— VI, 
VII, VIII— IX (1939); republished with notes and introduction by Dmitrri Sarabianov in Prometei 
(Moscow), no. 1 (1969), pp. 144-201 (all further citations to this essay by Tsvetaeva refer to 
this last publication). Unless otherwise noted, all translations from the Russian and French are 
my own. 

3. The artist and the poet were raised in Moscow in the Tverskaia district, in houses Nos. 7 and 8. 
Trekhprudnyi Lane, and first met when Goncharova was asked to escort Tsvetaeva home from the 
school that they attended together (in different classes); Tsvetaeva, "Natalia Goncharova (zhizn i 
tvorchestvo)," p. 154. 

3. There is still some confusion over her exact birthplace: her certificate of christening (Staryi 
Roskovels. June 26, 1881), indicates that her father was "landowner in the village of Nagaevo." 
However. Tsvetaeva's essay gives Goncharova's birthplace as Lodyzhino, also in Tula province 
(Tsvetaeva. p. 154). Family members record several moves, from Lodyzhino to Luzhino (where 
Goncharova lived for seven years), and then to Akatovo, all villages on the border of Orlov and 

i63 



naTaua concHarova 



Tula provinces. A copy of the certificate is in the archives of the Moscow Institute of Painting, 
Sculpture, and Architecture (RGALI; inv. no. f. 680, op. 3, ed. khr. i638, p. 9). 

4. The estate is not far from Lev Tolstoi's Yasnaia Poliana estate, and it is less than an hour from the 
city of Kaluga. During the Soviet era, much of the interior contents were deposited in the city 
museum, and the estate itself with its parks and ponds was transformed into a sanatorium. 
Damaged severely during Wo rid War II, it is now a shell of a structure and has recently been sold 
to a private investor. I am grateful to various members of the Goncharov family who have pro- 
vided much of the information published here, particularly Igor Glebovich Goncharov and 
Valentina Alexandrovna Zhilina, a restoration architect (and Goncharova's cousin) who was 
involved with plans to restore Polotnianyi Zavod. 

5. Igor Goncharov has stated that his grandfather was a social democrat, who expressed his political 
sympathies for leftist causes by supplying Lunacharsky with free paper for party publications. He 
introduced an eight -hour work day at Polotnianyi Zavod (in the 1890s?); Igor Goncharov, in 
interviews with the author in June 1997. The theater was described as a "worker's theater" during 
this time; seePushkinianakaluzhskoigubern.ii (Tula: Kommunar, 1990), no. 2, p. 36. 

6. Ilia Zdanevich, Goncharova's first biographer, underscored the significance of the artist's rural 
experiences on the estate; Eli Eganbiuri (pseudonym for Ilia Zdanevich) Natalia Goncharova. 
Mikhail Lanonov (Moscow: Miunster, 1913), p. i3. 

7. Jane A. Sharp, "L'exercice de la repetition: les cycles et les composition serielles de Nathalie 
Gontcharova de 1907-1911," in Jessica Boissel, Nathalie Gontcharova. Michel Lanonov, pp. 178-87. 

8. The Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, registration form for Natalia 
Sergeevna Goncharova, RGALI inv. no. f. 680, op. 3, ed. khr. i638, p. 12.. She is registered from 
the fall of 1901 (entering as an auditor in the "head class") through 1909 when she was expelled 
for nonpayment of tuition. In 1908-09 she was registered in the "drawing from nature class." 
and the "sculpture studio." having been advanced to both in 1906—07. In 1903—04, she was 
awarded the "small silver medal for sculpture," but because she was only an auditor, she was not 
able to claim it. She also passed a course in perspective. Her correspondence with the school 
indicates that for health reasons she did not plan to attend classes in 1903—04 (letter from 
Goncharova to the Director of the School, dated August 35, 1903, p. i3). Her registration form 
also indicates her class status (soslovie ) as "daughter of a member of the gentry. " 

9. Gleb Pospelov, Bubnovyi valet: primitiv i gorodskoi folklor v moskovskoi zhivopisi igw-xgodov 
(Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1990), p. 27. For Goncharova's participation in the studio, see 
Jane A. Sharp, "Redrawing the Margins of Russian Vanguard Art: Natalia Goncharova's Trial for 
Pornography in 1910," in Jane T. Costlow, Stephanie Sandler, and Judith Vowles, eds., Sexuality 
and the Body in Russian Culture (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), pp. 104—06. 

10. Eganbiuri, Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Lanonov, p. 14. 

11. Elena Ovsiannikova, "Iz istorii odnoi illiustratsii." Panorama iskusstv (Moscow), no. 11 (1988), 
p. 348. 

12. Georgii Kovalenko, ed. , Zhizn khudozhnikov. Natalia Goncharova. Mikhail Lanonov (Moscow: 
Galart, 1995), pp. io3— 16, 133—38. 

i3. Vystavkakartin Natalii Sergeevny Goncharovoi, ia.oo-iai3. Art salon, 11 Bolshaia Dmitrovka, 

Moscow, September 3o— November 5, 1913; Natalia Goncharova, io,oo—io,i3. Art Bureau, 63 Moika, 
St. Petersburg, March 15 -April 30, 1914. 

14. See "Beseda s N. S. Goncharovoi," Stolichnaia molva (Moscow), no. 115, April 5, 1910, p. 3; and 
"Pismo N. Goncharovoi." Protiv techeniia (St. Petersburg). March 3, 1913, p. 3. 

15. Varsanofii Parkin, "Oslinyi khvost i mishen," in Mikhail Larionovet al., Oslmyi khv ost i mishen 



164 



jane a. SHarp 



(Moscow: Miunster, 1913), p. 8a. 

16. Although the dating of this movement has varied from scholar to scholar, use of the term in 
Russian can be dated to igi3; see Jane Ashton Sharp, "Primitivism. 'Neoprimitivism' and the Art 
of Natalia Goncharova" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1992), pp. 1—7, 203-07. 

17. Several variants of these lectures exist in draft form in the State Russian Museum, Manuscript 
Division, inv. no. f. 177, op. 14, ed. khr. 24: see Elena Basner, "Nataliia Goncharova i Ilia 
Zdanevich, proiskhozhdenii Vsechestva," in Iskusstvo Avangarda: Yazyk mirovogo obsheheniia. 
materialy mezhdunarodnoi konferentsii. December 10—11, 1992 (Ufa, 1993). pp. 68-80. 

A manifesto written by Mikhail Le Dantiu also mentions Goncharova: "Zhivopis vsekov," (signed 
manuscript, dated 1914), RGALI, inv. no. f. 79a, op. 1, ed. khr. 1. 11. 17-35, 35—36; a variant was 
published by John E. Bowlt in Minuvshee (Paris), no. 5 (1988), pp. i83— 202. 

18. Sharp. "Redrawingthe Margins," pp. 97—123. 

19. Valentin Songaillo, vystavke kartin Natalii Gonchawvoi (Moscow: Sablin, 1913), p. 6. 

20. See Sharp (1992). pp. 383-g8. 

21. Bouquet and a Bottle of Paints (Buket i flakon krasok ), 1909, oil on canvas (101 x 71.5 cm), inv. no. 
386i. For details on the reception of the exhibition, see Sharp (1992), pp. 370-83. 

22. Sofiia Dymshits-Tolstaia, "Vospominaniia khudozhnitsy," typescript with handwritten 
notations by the artist, dated 1950s, located with the artist's family, pp. 27,32: Ekaterina Drevina 
and Vasilii Rakitin, eds., N. Udaltsova, Zhizn russkoi kubistki: dnevniki, stati. vospominaniia, 
Moscow-. RA, 1994. pp. 3i-32. 

23. In an undated letter to Le Dantiu, Larionov explains: "Natalia Sergeevna and I finally left on the 
29th. I was held up a bit on account of the costumes." State Russian Museum. Manuscript 
Division, inv. no. f. 135. op. 7, p. 2. 

24. Jessica Boissel, "Catalogue des oeuvres"; Viviane Tarenne, "Le populaire," in Nathalie 
Gontcharova. Michel Larionov (1995), pp. i38— 3g 



1'..-, 



naTaLia serGeevna GoncHarova 

(1881-1963) 



1881 Born June sji, in the village of Nagaevo, in Tula province. 

1893—98 Moves to Moscow to attend school there. 

1900 Meets Mikhail Larionov, a fellow student, who encourages her to 
paint, and he becomes her lifelong companion. 

1901 Enrolls at the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and 
Architecture to study sculpture. 

1906 Contributes to the Russian Section at the Salon d'Automne in Paris, 

but does not accompany Larionov to Paris. 
1906—07 Begins to work in Primitivist style. 
1908—10 Begins to work in Cubist style. Contributes to the three exhibitions 

organized by Nikolai Riabushinsky, editor of the journal Zolotoe runo 

(The Golden Fleece) in Moscow. 
1910 With Larionov and others, cofounds the Jack of Diamonds group and 

participates in the group's first exhibition, December 1910-January 

1911. 
1910 One-day exhibition of Goncharova's work is held March 34, at the 

Society for Free Aesthetics in Moscow. Consequently, she was tried 

and acquitted on charges of pornography for exhibiting nude life 

studies. 
1913 Contributes to the DerBlaue Reiter exhibition in Munich, and the 

Second Post -Impressionist Exhibition, London, organized by Roger Fry. 
1913—14 The Jack of Diamonds group splits up in February 1913, when she and 

Larionov dissociate themselves from David Burliuk and the others. 

She participates in rival exhibitions organized by Larionov: The 

Donkey's Tail (1913), The Target (1913), andiVo. 4 (1914). 
1913-13 Works in Cubo- Futurist and Bayist styles. 

1913 Contributes to HerwarthWalden'sErster Deutscher Herbstsalon, 
Berlin. 

1913—14 Major retrospective exhibitions of Goncharova's work, in Moscow 
(1913) and St. Petersburg (1914). 

1914 Leaves for Paris on April 39 with Larionov to mount their set designs 
for Sergei Diaghilev's ballet production of Le Coq d'Or. Galerie Paul 
Guillaume holds a joint exhibition of both artists' work. 



166 



curonoLOGY 



1915 Returns briefly to Moscow, where she designs Alexander Tairov's 

production of Carlo Goldoni's R Ventaglio at the Chamber Theater, 
Moscow. 

1917 Travels with Diaghilev's company to Spain and Italy. Settles in Paris 

with Larionov. 

1920s She and Larionov collaborate on numerous designs for Diaghilev and 

other impresarios. 

1920—21 Contributes to the Exposition Internationale d'Art Moderne in Geneva 
(which also includes work by Larionov) . 

1922 Exhibits at the Kingore Gallery, New York (which also includes work 

by Larionov). 

1920s— 3os Continues to paint, teach, illustrate books, and design ballet and the- 
ater productions, including Boris Romanov's A Romantic Adventure of 
an kalian Ballerina and a Marquis for the Chauve-Souris, New York 
d 9 3i). 

1940s— 50s Except for occasional contributions to exhibitions, Larionov and 

Goncharova live unrecognized and impoverished. However, through 
the efforts of Mary Chamot, author of Goncharova's first major mono- 
graph, a number of their works enter museum collections, including 
the Tate Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Modern Art in 
Edinburgh, and the National Art Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand. 

1954 Goncharova and Larionov's work is resurrected at Richard Buckle's 
Diaghilev exhibition in Edinburgh and London. 

1955 Goncharova and Larionov are married. 

1961 Arts Council of Great Britain organizes a major retrospective of 
Goncharova's and Larionov's works. 

1962 Dies October 17, in Paris. 



167 




plate 13. NaTaLia concHarova 

Self -Portrait with Yellow Lilies. 1907 
Oil on canvas. 77 x58.2 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallerv. Moscow 



168 




plate 14. naiaua GoncHarova 

Mowers. 1907—08 

Oil on canvas, 98 x 118 cm 

Private Collection, Courtesy Gallery Gmurzynska, Cologne 



169 




plate 15. naTana concHarova 

Pillars of Salt, 1908 

Oil on canvas, 80.5 x 96 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow 



170 




plate 16. naTaua GoncHarova 

Apocalypse (Elder with Seven Stars) ,1910 
Oil on canvas, 147 x 188 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 



171 




172 




plate 17. naiana GoncHarova 

The Evangelists (in Four Parts) . 1911 

1) In Blue-, 3) In Red-, 3) In Gray. 4) In Green 

Oil on canvas. 204 x 58 cm each 

State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg 



17 3 




plate 18. naTaua concHarova 

Sabbath, 1912 

Oil on canvas, 137.5 x 11 8 cm 

State Museum of the Visual Arts of Tatarstan, Kazan 



174 




plate 19. naiana concHarova 

Peasants Gathering Grapes, 1913 

Oil on canvas. 14.5 x i3o cm 

State Art Museum of Bashkkortostan. Ufa 



'75 




above: 

plate 30. naTaua GoncHarova 

Electric Lamp , 1913 

Oil on canvas. 125 x 81.5 cm 

Centre Georges Pompidou, 

Musee national dart moderne. Paris 

facing page: 

plate 3i. naTaua GoncHarova 

The Weaver (Loom + Woman), 1913—13 
Oil on canvas. 153.3 x 99 cm 
National Museum and Gallery. Cardiff 



176 




i ? 7 




plate 22. naiaua GoncHarova 

Airplane overaTram, 1913 

Oil on canvas, 55 x 83-5 cm 

State Museum of the Visual Arts of Tatarstan, Kazan 



178 




plate 23. naTaua Goncnarova 

Rayist Lilies, 1913 

Oil on canvas, 91 X75.4, cm 

State Picture Gallery, Perm 



179 




plate 24. naTaua GoncHarova 

Yellow and Green Forest, 1913 
Oil on canvas, 102 x 85 cm 
Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart 




plate 25. naiaLia ooncHarova 

Cats (rayist percep. [tion] in rose, black, andyellow). 1913 

Oil on canvas. 84.5 x 83.8 cm 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York 57. 1484 




plate 36.naxaLia GoncHarova 

Emptiness. 1913 

Mixed media on canvas, 80 x 106 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 




plate 27. naxana GoncHarova 

Composition, 1913-14 

Oil on canvas. io3-5 x 97.2 cm 

Centre Georges Pompidou, 

Musee national d'art moderne. Paris 



i83 




IflTOB 






figure 55. LiubovPopova in her studio, Moscow, 1919. 






np 



RP 



m 

IP 

% 

IB 






LIUBOV 

popova 



naTaua aDasKina anD DmiTrii saraBianov 



liubov popova anD Her coriTemporanes 

naTaLia aDasKina 

"Man is a really remarkable creature. He has only to quit working and all life comes 
to a halt, cities die out. But as soon as people get down to work, however, the city 
lives. What a terrible force is human labor! " So Popova wrote in a letter to her 
mother from Italy on the eve of World War I. 1 

The image of Popova that we are attempting to recapture here would not have 
been obvious to contemporaries of the young Popova. Before them stood a smart, 
elegant, independent young woman of a high station and with the right upbringing, 
a status that distinguished her from many artists with whom she worked at La 
Palette in Paris (also known as the Academie de la Palette) or at the Tower in 
Moscow. Alexander Bodchenko, for example, recalled that "Popova, an artist from 
a wealthy background, regarded us with condescension and contempt, since she 
considered us unsuitable company. . . . Later on, during the Bevolution, she 
changed greatly and became a true comrade. ... At the Store exhibition she left 
behind a fragrance of expensive perfume and a trace of beautiful apparel." 2 

Vera Mukhina, who became well known as a sculptor, met Popova in Moscow at 
the art school of Konstantin Yuon and Ivan Dudin, and described her as "tall, well- 
proportioned, with wonderful eyes and luxuriant hair. For all her femininity, she 
perceived art and life with incredible acuity. She embraced Gauguin, van Gogh, 



'»5 




figure 56. LIUBOV POPOVa 

Preliminary drawing for Portrait of a Philosopher, 1915 

Pencil on paper, 

35.5x21 cm 

Private collection. Moscow 



and Cezanne one after the other. Once interested in them, she began to study them 
and to work like van Gogh, etc. She had a marvelous sense of color and, in general, 
a great talent." 3 

In the Yuon/Dudin studio, Popova also befriended Liudmila Prudkovskaia and 
her sister, Nadezhda Prudkovskaia (the future Udaltsova), and Alexander Vesnin; 
Alexei Grishchenko and Vera Pestel also studied there at one time. 

For Popova the period between Yuon's studio and La Palette was a very difficult 
one, not only artistically, but also psychologically. She felt pulled in different 
directions: her enthusiasm for the work of Mikhail Vrubel (1856— 1910), * which 
was natural for a romantically inclined painter such as Popova, encouraged her 
artistic evolution along the path of Cubism and analysis. Popova not only became 
interested in the artistic ideas of the Symbolists, but also attempted to assimilate 
the lessons of contemporary philosophers, both Russian and European. No doubt, 
her younger brother Pavel exerted a certain influence here, for he was a profes- 
sional philosopher and very close to Mikhail Bulgakov. Still, reconciling the mysti- 
cism of Symbolism and the tense spirituality of "Gothic" forms was a difficult task. 
For Popova, accordingto IvanAksenov. this stage "nearly drove her out of her 
mind" and "nearly cost her her life. "5 One may presume that the mental illness of 
her best friend at that time. Liudmila Prudkovskaia, also left a deep imprint upon 
her, although, fortunately, new circumstances facilitated her escape from depres- 
sion — not least, her Paris apprenticeship with Henri Le Fauconnier and Jean 
Metzinger and her enthusiastic embrace of Cubism. 

To all appearances, Popova possessed a strong organizational talent and 



naTaua aoasKina 



enjoyed authority among her colleagues. Our knowledge of the Paris season of 
191?— 13, when Popova was working under Le Fauconnier, Metzinger, and Andre 
Dunoyer de Segonzac at La Palette, comes mainly from the diaries of Udaltsova, 
the letters of Boris Ternovets, and the memoirs of Mukhina. A stern Udaltsova 
remarks that Popova's "sketches are not bad, except that all her figures are dis- 
tended. [December 15, 1913]. . . . L.S. is much bolder than I am. Metzinger has 
already praised her [January?, 1913]."'' In photographs of that time we see a 
happy, smiling Popova in the company of friends. Probably through Mukhina. 
Popova entered the circle of young sculptors — students of Bourdelle — such as Iza 
Burmeister, Nadezhda Krandievskaia (wife of writer Alexei Tolstoi), Sofia 
Bozental, Ternovets, and Alexander Vertepov. 

Popova first visited Italy in 1910 with her family. During that short vacation 
she became interested in the fifteenth- and sixteenth -century masters, but by 
1914, on her second trip, alongside the monuments of Classical art and architec- 
ture, she acquainted herself with contemporary Italian Futurism, to which some of 
her paintings of that time, not least Italian Still Life, 1914 (plate 29), bear witness. 
From the old classical models, Popova extrapolated formal structures and, as 
Mukhina recalled, "interpreted Italy very passionately. ... At that time she was 
studying the interrelation of colors in an attempt to determine the power of color 
and its weight."? Nearly a decade later, this knowledge of the laws of painting 
became the foundation of Popova's work as a teacher at Vkhutemas, on which she 
elaborated in her papers for Inkhuk. Popova's trip through Italy — including stops 
in Rome, Florence, Venice, Genoa, Naples, Capri, Livorno, Pisa, Bologna, and 
Padua — left vivid impressions. By 1913—14, Popova was beginning her profes- 
sional career and, in February 1914, made her debut in the Jack of Diamonds exhi- 
bition in Moscow. Both before her trip to Paris (in 1913— 13) and after, she worked 
in various independent Moscow studios such as the Tower on Kuznetskii Most and 
in the studio at 37 Ostozhenka, whose strongest supporter was Vladimir Tatlin. 

Although Popova was undoubtedly much influenced by Kazimir Malevich. the 
evolution of her painting reveals a personal independence and a lack of concern 
with conventions. Popova participated in the artistic life of the avant-garde, and 
many of her associates have left recollections of the "weekly gatherings on art" in 
her apartment on Novinskii Boulevard during the winter of 1914-15.^6 circle 
included Popova's old friends from the Yuon school and Paris such as 
Grishchenko, Pestel, Ternovets, Udaltsova, and Alexander Vesnin; and, according 
to Grishchenko, even Malevich attended the meetings. Art historians such as Boris 
von Eding (a specialist in ancient Russian architecture, and later Popova's hus- 
band) and Boris Vipper, philosopher Pavel Florensky, and others also joined in 
the discussions. In 1915—16 Popova took an eager part in the organization of the 
Supremus group; and at the gatherings at Udaltsova's apartment, Popova mixed 

187 




left: 

figure 57. Pavel Popov (Liubov Popova's 

brother and the sitter for her painting 

Portrait of a Philosopher ) and Alexander Vesnin, 

photographed by Alexander Rodchenko 

in Popova's studio. Moscow, 1924. 

facing page: 

figure 58. Posthumous exhibition of Popova's work. 

Moscow, 1924. 



with many other participants of the avant-garde movement, including Alexandra 
Exter, Kliun, and Rozanova; poet Alexei Kruchenykh and critic Aliagrov (Roman 
Jakobson) were also there. In addition, avant-garde exhibitions brought Popova 
closer to the left in Petrograd, too. For example, she was a frequent visitor to what 
was known as Apartment No. 5, the home of the artist LevBruni and a regular 
meetingplace of the Petrograd bohemia in 1914—15. 

After the October Revolution, professional artists attached to IZO Narkompros 
took over the task of organizing numerous exhibitions, helped acquire works of art 
for the state depositories, and commissioned new work. In March 1918. in the 
midst of all these activities, Popova married von Eding, and in November she gave 
birth to a son. To save themselves from starvation during the summer of 1919. 
Popova, von Eding, their son, and her governess and friend, Adelaida Dege, moved 
to Rostov- on- Don. But there von Eding contracted typhoid fever and died, while 
Popova herself became seriously ill with typhoid, which caused a serious heart 
complication. In November. Popova returned to cold and hungry Moscow. 
Evidently, her leftist friends helped her to withstand the rigors of that time, for she 
managed to sell works to the State Purchasing Commission and. at the end of 1930 
was hired by Vkhutemas, where she was given a studio in the Painting Department 
to share with her good friend Alexander Vesnin (fig. 57). During the last three 
years of her life, Popova investigated new genres such as stage, poster, and book 
design, and it is thanks especially to her efforts that the Constructivist approach 
began to be applied to sets and costumes for the theater. Not only did she now 
become a professional teacher, but she also managed to coordinate the loose cur- 
ricula of the Painting Department at Vkhutemas into a methodical introductory 
course. Moreover, Popova now put the theory of the Productionists into practice, 
quickly emerging as a master of textile design. 

Friends and students recall Popova at the beginning of the 1920s as young, 
beautiful, full of joie de vivre. Boris Rybchenkov, for example, then a student at 




- 



•" 



d ! 3 



Vkhutemas, wrote that the "young, amazingly beautiful, ever cordial, festively 
dressed Liubov Sergeevna seemed to glow. . . . She believed that the highest form of 
the new art was abstraction. . . . Liubov Sergeevna tried to make us understand the 
supreme principles of constructing something beautiful, free from the reality of 
the surrounding material world. . . . This, it appears, also prompted Liubov 
Sergeevna to tame her own, to some extent, feminine . . . form of Suprematism." 8 
The transition from studio painting to production art was symptomatic of a crisis 
in the arts, but Popova's ideas provided some solutions. Another reason for 
Popova's optimism and tenacity was the unflagging support of those around her, 
their friendship, and love. Sergei Bobrov dedicated poetry to her, while Aksenov's 
articles convey a deep veneration, tinged perhaps by a more amorous sentiment. 
Popova was in close contact with both writers within the publishing- house and 
bohemian circle called Centrifuge. 

But Popova's closest, most important friend was Alexander Vesnin, and every- 
one knew of their intimate relationship. Natalia Vesnina, the wife of his brother 
Viktor, writes in her memoirs that the "younger Vesnin fell in love with this gifted, 
beautiful woman as a young man and preserved his feeling for her throughout 
his life, even though she married another man. "9 In the summer of 1933 Popova 
traveled with Vesnin to the Caucasus. Since their youth, they had been tied by 
the close bonds of friendship as well as by a common artistic mission, sharing 
a studio at Vkhutemas, and collaborating, for example, on the production of 
Romeo and Juliet that the Chamber Theater prepared (but did not produce) and on 
an agitprop event. 

In the catalogue of her posthumous exhibition, Popova's brother, Pavel, wrote: 
"Impetuous and passionate, never satisfied with what had been achieved and for- 
ever aspiring forward, from a young age Popova displayed an enthusiasm for revo- 
lutionary forms and movements both in art in particular and in the basic 
orientations of life. This revolutionary spirit was characteristic of her steadfast 



189 



LIUBOV popova 



leftism in all spheres of activity. " 10 Aksenov even asserted that in her last years 
Popova regarded her artistic work as a "duty and a social obligation."" Although 
Popova did not emphasize the theme of social service in her own theoretical texts, 
she did underscore the need to unite the two revolutions — the artistic and the 
social. Without addressingthe question of why the Russian avant-garde embraced 
the ideology of production art (and unconditional acceptance of the social revolu- 
tion was part of that), we should remember that Popova responded enthusiastically 
to the demands of the new reality, and that is how her colleagues at Inkhuk. those 
associated with the journal Lef(Left Front of the Arts), and those in Vsevolod 
Meierkhold's theater perceived her and her work (fig. 61). 

1. Quoted from Pavel Popov in I. S. Popova: Posmertnaia vystavka khudozhnika-konstruktora, 
catalogue of posthumous exhibition. Museum of Painterly Culture, Moscow, 1924, p. 5. 

2. Varvara Rodchenko, comp., A. M. Rodchenko: Stati. Vospominaniia. Avtobwgraficheskie zapiski. 
Pisma (Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik), 1983, p. 85. 

3. Quoted in Petr Suzdalev, Vera Mukhina (Moscow: Iskusstvo, 1981), p. 4,1. 

4. Mikhail Alexandrovieh Vrubel (1856—1910), Russia's primary artist of the fin de siecle, shared 
the Symbolists' premise that the world of appearances was but a mere shadow of the higher, 
cosmic truth. Correspondingly, he displaced and distorted outward forms in order to express 
the intensity of his inner vision. Artists of the avant-garde held Vrubel in high esteem, even 
regarding him as the first "Cubist." 

5. Ivan Aksenov, "Posmertnaia vystavka L.S. Popovoi," Zhizniskusstva (Leningrad), no. 5 (1925), 

P-5- 

6. Diary entries by Nadezhda Udaltsova for December 15. 1912 and January 2, 1913, in Ekaterina 
Drevin and Vasilii Rakitin, eds., N.A. Udaltsova Zhizn msskoi kubistki (Moscow: RA, 1994). 
pp. 19-21. 

7. Quoted in Suzdalev. Vera Mukhina, p. 85. 

8. Boris Rybchenkov. "Rasskazy B. F. Rybchenkova," in Natalia Tamruchi, comp., Prostranstvo 
kartmy: Sbomik statei (Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1989), pp. 298—94. 

9. Natalia Vesnina, "Moi vospominaniia ob arkhitektorakh bratiakh Vesninykh," Panorama iskusstv 
(Moscow), no. 8 (1985), p. 169. 

10. Pavel Popov, L. S. Popova, p. 5. 

11. IvanAksenov. "Posmertnaia vystavka," p. 5. 



190 



liubov popova anD arnsTic SYnTHesis 
DmiTrii saraBianov 

During her brief life, Popova moved rapidly from realism and decorative 
Impressionism through Cubo- Futurism and Suprematismto Constructivism. She 
did so by first absorbing the general principles of modern European art and then 
embracing the inventions of the Russian avant-garde. But Popova's mature work of 
the late 1910s and early 1930s is an even broader synthesis, for it reflects the most 
disparate tendencies — an interest in the classical art of the West (particularly the 
Italian Renaissance), Russian icons, French Cubism (which she studied in Paris, 
under Henri Le Fauconnier and Jean Metzingerat La Palette in 1913 and 1918), 
Italian Futurism (to which she was especially drawn during her 1914 stay in Italy), 
and. finally, the composite, if antithetical, influences of the two pillars of the 
Russian avant-garde — Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin. 

Perhaps the most surprising component of this synthesis is that of classical 
Italian art. As a rule, Russian artists of the avant-garde rejected the Italian tradi- 
tion as an archaic, pernicious convention, either implicitly or explicitly. Popova, 
though, while still an art student, traveled to St. Petersburg to study Italian paint- 
ing in the Hermitage. From the paintings that she observed there, she made draw- 
ings — both skillful copies and free interpretations — that included biblical figures 
in Renaissance rendering, figure compositions with strong equilibrium, and the 
motif of the arch within a semi- tondo frame. Later, when planning her Italian itin- 
erary (by which time she was an avant-gardist), she selected cities that were cele- 
brated for their collections of classical art. As Popova noted in her diaries, 
Nadezhda Udaltsova, her traveling companion in the 1910s, also cultivated a deep 
interest in classical painting. 

Popova grew up in an enlightened merchant family with a strong interest in 
art, especially Italian Renaissance painting, and her understanding of the struc- 
tural underpinnings of Renaissance form infuses her abstract paintings and draw- 
ings from 1916 and 1917. Distinctive characteristics of these works include a 
precise sense of up and down, a frontality in the construction of form, and a strong 
awareness of foreground or surface. Often the center of the composition is fixed 
and proportions define relationships, whether simple or multiple. These propor- 
tions are based on a numerical correlation that seems to have been calculated con- 
sciously and deliberately as a lucid, plastic expression of the logic of intersecting 
parts; there is nothing of the enigma or mystery of Piet Mondrian's geometric 
compositions here. All of Popova's works express the anthropomorphic spirit, not 
because the forms recall human figures, but because the creative principles them- 
selves are human, natural, and simple. 

How does this affinity for Renaissance form relate to Popova's parallel interest 



191 



LIUBOV popova 



in ancient Russian art — two completely different and seemingly incompatible 
styles? Just as she visited St. Petersburg to study Italian Renaissance painting, she 
traveled to the ancient cities of Kiev. Novgorod, Pskov, Yaroslavl, Rostov, and 
Suzdal and studied the icon paintings there. Using her distinct sensibility and her 
own inner logic as a guide. Popova discovered the roots of Ryzantine and Russian 
art, and, through simple color comparisons and numerical correlations, found a 
classical logic in the traditions of both the Renaissance and Old Russia. A similar 
effect can be seen in the reduced space of Popova's PainterJj Architectonics, 1918 
(plate 37), for example, in which flat, geometric forms are arranged to create an 
impression of overlapping layers, thus negating the conventional linear perspec- 
tive without destroying it entirely. 

For Popova, Russian icon painting and Italian Renaissance painting shared 
certain principles, though on an abstract level. She was interested not only in the 
holy images, but also in the wooden board on which the icon was painted, which 
she connected with Tatlin's interest in the icon and which prompted her — and 
Vladimir Baranov-Rossine, IvanKliun, IvanPuni, and Olga Rozanova, as well as 
Tatlin — to turn to the painted relief as a new medium. From 1915 on, Popova 
incorporated "icon boards" in her series of Painterly Architectonics-, the posthu- 
mous list of works compiled by her close associates Ivan Aksenov and Alexander 
Vesnin includes examples of Painterly Architectonics subtitled With Yellow Icon 
Board, With Black Icon Board, and With Gray Board, and some of her Cubo-Futurist 
works also bear traces of the texture of the icon board. 

Popova also found inspiration in nature and in the human figure, which 
underwent complex transformations in her work — especially the motif of trees 
(compare Popova's treatment of trees to Mondrian's concurrent work featuring 
this motif) and that of the female nude. The latterworks demonstrate her particu- 
lar affinity for Cuhist principles and practice, which she assimilated rapidly in 
Paris. Her Composition with Figures, 1913 (plate 28), painted after her return to 
Moscow — and which was first on the list of works that she compiled herself — 
shows the influence not only of Le Fauconnier and Metzinger, but also of Tatlin. 

Popova's approach changed after she saw such prototypical Cubo-Futurist 
paintings as Malevich's The Knife -Grinder, 1913, and Goncharova's The Bicyclist. 
1913—13 (fig. 54), in which two opposing forms of energy clash, restraining and at 
the same time encouraging the perception of the object and its environment as 
merging together. Popova began to experiment with this emphasis on abstract 
rhythms and patterns, creating her own Cubo-Futurist works such as The Pianist, 
1915 (plate 3 1), Man + Air + Space, Portrait of a Philosopher, 1915, and the two ver- 
sions of the Traveling Woman, 1915 (plate 33), in which Popova achieved an effec- 
tive balance between the centrifugal and the centripetal. Such paintings also 
demonstrate an equivalence of body, object, and empty space, and pinpoint an 



19a 



DmiTin saraBianov 




figure 59. LIUBOV POPOVa 
Cubist Cityscape. ca. 1914 
Oil on canvas. 137.1 x 91.4 cm. 
Private collection 



, 9 3 



wnrEfflft 




figure 60. LIUBOV POPOVa 

Design for the logo of the Supremus Society 

of Artists, 1916—17 

India ink on paper, 9 x 11 cm 

Courtesy of Krystyna Gmurzynska, Cologne 

important divergence from French Cubism. Albert Gleizes, Metzinger, and 
Picasso (who in his Cubist works of 1918—14 often depicted a female figure in a 
chair, with a mandolin or a guitar) always separated the figure from the ground 
by giving it an emphatic plasticity. This was not a hard-and-fast principle for 
the French (Fernand Leger tended to ignore it) , whereas the Russian artists 
(Kliun, Malevich. Popova) sometimes carried it to an extreme. In this respect, 
Malevich's Knife -Grinder must have been an ideal model for Popova; her two 
versions of the Traveling Woman (a.k.a. The Traveler) show a similar dissolution 
of legibility within the complex rhythm of the intricate lines and forms, with 
the fragments of both the figure and its surrounding environment almost los- 
ing their connection with reality. The result is a kind of alogical rebus, so that 
the mimetic purpose becomes secondary and the painting itself verges on 
non-objectivity. 

A comparison of Gleizes's Woman at a Piano, 1914 and Popova's The 
Pianist, 1915 (plate 3i), demonstrates the differences between the French and 
Russian interpretations of Cubist form and space. Gleizes observes fundamen- 
tal rules in his representation of the scene, reducing his foreshortening" to a 
nearly absolute flatness (as, for example, in the triangle of the keyboard). 
Popova, however, gives us a mostly frontal view of the face, while showing the 
hand from the side, in profile, and the keyboard from above, with a layered 
array of sheet music floating in the middle. Within a year she would be making 
completely non-objective paintings similar to this. 

Around 1914, after painting in a Cubo-Futurist manner for about two 
years, Malevich began to work in a completely abstract style using geometric 
forms, which he called Suprematism. and a group of like-minded artists 
formed around him (which included Kliun, Alexander Rodchenko, Rozanova, 
and Nadezhda Udaltsova). Supremus anticipated the goals of the Parisian 
groups Cercle et Carre (1939) and Abstraction (1981). Not surprisingly, in 1916 
Popova became a member of Malevich's Supremus group, and embraced 
Suprematism in her synthetic system that, in turn, prepared her for the next 
phase. Constructivism, which was closely related to Suprematism. In the late 
1910s, Popova was discovering new forms: just as Cubism had once looked for 
construction in the human figure and the object, so now Popova subjected 



194 




figure 61. Vsevolod Meierkhold's 
production of Fernand Crommelynck's 
The Magnanimous Cuckold. Moscow, 1922. 



abstract forms to reductive analysis by revealing their constructive foundations 
as geometric, plastic units. Instead of trapezoids or triangles, which once com- 
prised the living matter of the painting, there the edge of the painting assumes 
major importance, becoming virtually the foundation of the composition, replac- 
ing the surface as the principal focal element. The planes have become stripes, 
totally disconnected from reality, and now simply suspended in the immense 
space of the universe. 

A dual process is occurring here. As Popova undermines the Suprematist 
totality with Constructivist analysis, she also renews the synthesis: her 
Spatial-Force Constructions. 1931 (see plates 39—41) which succeeded the Painterly 
Architectonics, produce the impression of consonance and stability, thanks to the 
interactive energy of different forms, directions, and forces. Now. movement 
unfolds not in real space, but in a new. unearthly dimension that rejects 
Constructivism in favor of Suprematism. Nevertheless, the same interactions of 
centrifugal and centripetal still lead to their harmonious union, rather like the 
unity of static and dynamic that is characteristic of Cubo - Futurism. 

To a considerable extent, Popova's abstract paintings constituted a laboratory 
of forms that prepared her for the richer compounds of Constructivism and 
Production art that she investigated with such alacrity after the October 
Revolution. The radical accomplishments that we associate with Popova's stage, 
fashion, and book designs of the early 1920s, while public, utilitarian, and often 
ideologically inspired, are organic extensions of her studio painting of several 
years earlier. Indeed, without the rigorous formal explorations that Popova pur- 
sued in the architectonic and spatial-force compositions, her spectacular works of 
the early 1920s — such as her scenography for Vsevolod Meierkhold's interpreta- 
tion of The Magnanimous Cuckold in 1922 (fig. 61) —would have been impossible. 



"i- 



liubov serGeevna popova 

(1889-1924) 



1889 Born April 24, 1889, near Moscow. 

1899 Receives art lessons at home. Graduates from the Arseniev 

Gymnasium. 
1907 Studies under Stanislav Zhukovsky at his studio. 

1908—09 Attends the art school of Konstantin Yuon and Ivan Dudin. Meets 

Alexander Vesnin there. 

1909 Travels to Kiev in autumn. 

1910 Travels to Italy with her family, and is especially impressed by the 
work of Giotto and the 15th- and 16th-century masters. That summer, 
travels to Pskov and Novgorod to study icons. 

1911 Makes several trips to ancient Russian cities. 

1912 Works in the Moscow studio known as the Tower, with Ivan Aksenov. 
Viktor Bart, Alexei Grishchenko, Vladimir Tatlin, and Kirill 
Zdanevich. Visits Sergei Shchukin's collection of modern French art. 

1912—13 Goes with Nadezhda Udaltsova to Paris, where they study under Henri 
Le Fauconnier, Jean Metzinger, and Andre Dunoyer de Segonzac at La 
Palette. 

1913 Meets Alexander Archipenko and Ossip Zadkine. After spending May 
in Brittany with Vera Mukhina and Boris Ternovets, returns to Russia 
and again works closely with Tatlin, Udaltsova, and Alexander Vesnin. 

1914 Travels to France and Italy again, accompanied by Vera Mukhina. 
1914—15 Her Moscow home becomes a regular meeting place for artists 

(including Grishchenko, Vera Pestel, Ternovets, Udaltsova, Alexander 
Vesnin) and writers (including art historian Boris von Eding). 
1914—16 Contributes to several exhibitions, notably the two Jack of Diamonds 
exhibitions in Moscow (1914— making her professional debut— and 
1916), Tramway V&na\o.io, (both in Petrograd), and The Store in 
Moscow. 

1915 Begins to paint in a non-objective style, most notably with her series 
of Painterly Architectonics . 

1916 Joins the Supremus group. 

1917 Continues her series of Painterly Architectonics and makes textile 
designs for Natalia Davydova's enterprise in Verbovka. 



196 



CHTOnOLOGY 



1918 Marries von Eding. Works on designs for Soviet agitprop. Gives birth 
to a son in November. 

1919 Contributes to the Tenth State Exhibition-. Non-Objective Creativity and 
Suprematism . Her husband dies from typhoid fever. 

1919—21 Paints more advanced non-objective works. 

1920 Makes stage designs for Alexander Tairov's production of Romeo and 
Juliet at the Chamber Theater. Moscow. Teaches atVkhutemas. where 
she organizes a program on "color discipline." Joins Inkhuk. 

1921 Contributes to the exhibitions^ = 25 in Moscow. Becomes active as a 
Constructivist. designing book covers, porcelain, stage sets, and tex- 
tiles. Makes series of Spatial -Force Constructions. Teaches at the State 
Higher Theater Studios. 

1921—24 Designs book and sheet-music covers. 

1922 Creates the sets and costumes for Vsevolod Meierkhold"s production 
of The Magnanimous Cuckold. Contributes to the Erste russische 
Kunstausstellung in Berlin. 

1923 Designs Meierkhold"s production of Earth on End. Moves away from 
painting and sculpture and becomes completely involved with pro- 
duction art. 

1923—24 Works on textile and dress designs for the First State Textile Factory. 

1924 Dies May 25, in Moscow. A large posthumous exhibition of her work 
opens in Moscow (December 21). 



•97 




lgt 




facing page: 

plate 28. LIUBOVPOPOVa 
Composition with Figures , 1913 
Oil on canvas. 160 x 124.3 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow- 
above: 

plate 29. LIUBOV POPOVa 
Italian Still Life, 1914 
Oil, plaster, and paper collage on canvas. 
61.5x48 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow 



199 




plate 3o.LIUB0V POPOVa 
Guitar, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 83.5 X71 cm 
Collection of Elena Murina and 
Dmitrii Sarabianov, Moscow 




plate3i.LIUB0V POPOVa 
The Pianist. 1915 
Oil on canvas. 106.5 x ^8-7 cm 
National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa 




above: 

plate 3s. LIUBOVPOPOVa 

Lady with a Guitar, 1915 

Oil on canvas. 107x71.5 cm 

State Museum of History-, Architecture, and Art. Smolensk 



facingpage: 

plate 33. LIUBOV POPOVa 

Traveling Woman, 1915 

Oil on canvas. 158.5 x 123 cm 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costalds Collection) 




2o3 




above: 

plate 34. LIUBOV POPOVa 

Jug on Table. Plastic Painting, 1915 
Oil on cardboard, mounted on panel, 
59.1x45.3 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow, 
Gift, George Costakis 

facing page: 

plate 35. LIUBOV POPOVa 

Birsk, 1916 

Oil on canvas, 106 x 69.5 cm 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 

Gift, George Costakis 81.2822.1 



204 




2°S 




plate 36. LIUBOV POPOVa 

Painterly Architectonics, 1917 

Oil on canvas, 107 x 88 cm 

Krasnodar District Kovalenko Art Museum 



206 




plate 37. LIUBOV POPOVa 

Painterly Architectonics, 1918 

Oil on canvas, 105 x 80 cm 

Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 




plate38.LIUBOVPOPOVa 
Construction, 1920 
Oil on canvas, 106.8 x 88.7 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 



208 




plate 39. LIUBOV POPOVa 

Spatial-Force Construction. 1921 

Oil with marble dust on plywood. 112.7 x 11 --7 cm 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 



209 




facing page: 

plate 40. LIUBOV POPOVa 

Spatial-Force Construction, 1921 

Oil over pencil on plywood, 124 x 82-3 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow, 

Gift, George Costakis 



above: 

plate 41. LIUBOV POPOVa 

Spatial -Force Construction, 1921 

Oil with marble dust on plywood, 71 x 64 cm 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 




fj|t| 

mm| 

IB '5 

% 

3 

Ml ? 






figure 62- Olga Rozanova. photographed by M. P. Koreneva in Vladimir, ca. 1900. 



mm 

a 

if; : 5 



MM 



OLGa 

Rozanova 



nina Gurianova 



OLGa rozanova: exPLorinG colot 

While working in the most diverse directions and styles, Olga Rozanova always 
retained her artistic individuality. Consequently, her oeuvre cannot be accommo - 
dated easily within the sole categories of Cubo - Futurism or Suprematism, for her 
paintings, drawings, and designs contain a strength and originality that pushes 
them far beyond conventional conceptual boundaries. Rozanova's work seems to 
exist within a compressed time, to exist as a single, compact entity; and this is no 
more manifest than in her conscious reliance upon color correlations as being the 
fundamental element in composition. Such was her method in creating her early 
paintings, when she worked more by intuition, and also in her later art, which she 
based on a rigorous theory of color interrelationships. In turn, exploration of color 
became the distinguishing feature of her entire artistic process, something that 
today — both in theory and in practice — helps us understand more clearly the 
development of color theory in twentieth- century abstract painting. 

From the very beginning of her artistic career, Rozanova tended mostly toward 
abstract composition based on dynamics, interaction of color, and discordant lin- 
ear rhythm. She passed quickly from early Neo-Primitivist still lifes and portraits, 
for example. Portrait of a Lady in Pink (Portrait of Anna Rozanova, the Artist's Sister), 
1911 (plate 43), toward a new Futurist rhythmic displacement that she identified 
with the dissonance of the industrial city — manifest in the paintings that she con- 

2l3 





left: figure 63. OLGa rozanova 

Illustration for Soiuz molodezki (St. Petersburg), 

no. 3 (1913) 

Lithograph 

Institute of Modern Russian Culture. Los Angeles 

above: figure 64. OLGa TOZanOVa 
Non-Objective Composition, 1914—15 
Oil on canvas, 56 x 65 cm 
State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg 



tributed to the last Union of Youth exhibition in November 1913 (Landscape -Inertia, 
1913, Dissonance, 1913, and Trajectoglyphs of Movements of the Soul, 1913). Indeed, 
the latter bears a strong resemblance to images within Boccioni's series of Stati 
d'animo, 1911, and indicates that Rozanova's primary artistic purpose was to convey 
movement — if not the external and the visible, then the internal and the spiritual. 

Rozanova's strongest compositions in this genre, including City (Industrial 
Landscape), 1913 (Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center, Slobodskoi), The 
Factory and the Bridge, 1913 (Museum of Modern Art, New York), Man on the Street 
(Analysis of Volumes), 1913 (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid), andFire in the 
City (Cityscape), 1914 (plate 43) are characterized by rich surface treatment and 
the striking application of black lines and contours, something that produces 
the impression of a shimmering, quivering texture; in turn, this takes on an 
autonomous painterly quality. In Man on the Street (Analysis of Volumes), the figures 
seem to expand arbitrarily and the composition to yield to a dynamic rhythm that 
pulsates throughout the work. Rozanova treats the theme of the city in which dis- 
parate elements, objects, and forms are transformed into an autonomous organ- 
ism. Still, unlike the Italian Futurists. Rozanova approaches the city and the 
machine with caution, but she endows them with a sense of mystery and danger. 
In her Futurist urban landscapes of 1913—14, the "actors" or "characters" are the 
buildings, streetlights, and factory chimneys in which human figures, if they are 
present, dissipate and dissolve. 



214 



Nina cunanova 



By 1915 the Russian avant-garde was developing rapidly, assimilating many 
sytlistic and philosophical concepts and forcing reason to "burst the boundaries 
of the known." 1 Rozanova's paintings at the 0.10 exhibition were no exception, rep- 
resenting a fusion of Cubo- Futurism and a new impetus toward abstraction (which 
not only forced her to search for a new painterly style, but also, as she herself might 
have said, to subordinate this style to a new aesthetic psychology). This duality 
lends a special attraction to the novel and unpredictable quality of her 1915 works, 
which hover on the boundary between objective and non-objective. In any case, 
in following Rozanova's works through the exhibitions of 1915, we cannot help 
but notice a metamorphosis as she advances from the Cubo -Futurist portraits of 
1913—14 or the dramatic Fire in the City (Cityscape) to the unprecedented abstract 
reliefs Automobile, 1915, and Bicyclist, 1915, shown at o. jo. 2 The Futurist notions of 
rhythm and dynamism are here transformed into tight Suprematist shapes (semi- 
sphere, triangle, rectangle) enhanced by a three-dimensional solidity of form. 

In this respect, the Playing Cards series of 1912(7)— 15 (see plates 45—47), 
which Rozanova linked with her color linocuts and first showed in April 1915 at the 
Exhibition of Painting of Leftist Trends (DobychinaArt Bureau, Petrograd), may seem 
to be a glance back to the Neo - Primitivism of Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail 
Larionov. 3 At first, the Neo-Primitivists, too, had been attracted by playing cards 
as a requisite component of contemporary urban folklore: the signs and symbols 
of playing cards continued to grace dream books, picture postcards, and the latest 
fortune -telling books. Larionov was drawing upon all these connotations when he 
organized the controversial Jack of Diamonds exhibition in 1910.4 

Thus, Rozanova was observing a precedent when she introduced the theme 
of playing cards into the cycle of eleven compositions, perhaps her most fanciful 
creation. i Here she creates a formal portrait gallery of playing-card queens, kings, 
and jacks in the spirit of Malevich's "alogism" (Malevich's own term, meaning 
"non-sense realism" or "transrational realism" 6 ) or Lewis Carroll's paradoxes 
from Beyond the Looking Glass . These faces and figures strike us by the sharp con- 
trast of bright colors, with the black- gray grisaille of the faces and hands of the 
half-alive characters. The irony of the subject is underscored by the rough, even 
crude method of execution that brings to mind a hand-painted photograph or a 
brightly colored postcard sold at some provincial fair. The very idea of composing 
such a group and the very manner of execution go well beyond the conventions of 
both Neo- Primitivism and Cubo -Futurism, and to some extent anticipate the aes- 
thetics of Pop art. The process whereby playing cards turn into people counterbal - 
ances the reverse transformation, which occurs when real-life, historical 
personages are equated with playing-card figures as, for example, in the special 
"historical" decks of cards popular in Russia, Europe, and America in the nine- 
teenth century. 



^5 




figure 65. OLGa rozanova 

Jack of Diamonds, 1912(?)— 15 
Oil on canvas, 80 x 69 cm 
Present whereabouts unknown 



What one might refer to as Rozanova's local color and lapidary application, 
her fragmentation of complex forms into basic geometrical shapes, their 
autonomy emphasized by black contour, and the neutrality or virtual absence 
of background have much in common with Malevich's proto-Suprematist 
sketches. Four Aces-. Simultaneous Representation, for example, contains only the 
geometrized "primal element" of the card sign — the rhombus, circle, and 
cross. Indeed, Rozanova's canvases of 1914—15 anticipate the abstraction of 
Suprematism. as in Metronome , 1915 (Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow), Workbox, 
1915 (fig. 66), Writing Desk , 1915 (Russian Museum, St. Petersburg). Pub 
(Auction), 1914 (plate 44), or The "Moderne" Movie Theater (In the Street), 1915 
(plate 48). The last anticipates her later style of color-painting, manifest in 
the attention to translucent, semitransparent planes and in the fragments of 
light-rays against a colored rainbow spectrum. Entirely absent here, however, 
are the Futurist intonations of dynamism and simultaneity; compositions such 
as The "Moderne" Movie Theater (In the Street) bringto mind the "alogical" phase 
of Malevich's Cubo-Futurism in Lady at an Advertisement Column, 1914 
(Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam). Rozanova's compositions, however, can be 
seen as a kind of hypothetical "picture" or rebus. The isolated sign or object, 
divorced from its usual context, becomes a requisite attribute of such compo- 
sitions; the irrational laws of construction of such painterly texts are identical 
in many ways to those governing the Russians' zaum (transrational poetry) . 



216 



Nina curianova 



Indeed, one of Rozanova's strongest talents was her ability to improvise — and 
the malleability of her graphic art suited itself perfectly to the poetry of Alexei 
Kruchenykh, inventor and theoretician of zaum. In 1913, he and Khlebnikov pub- 
lished the manifesto Slovo kak takovoe (The Word as Such), proclaiming a new verbal 
form in a language lacking a determinate rational meaning. The close personal 
relationship between Kruchenykh and Rozanova resulted in a fruitful collaboration 
and in the unique style of the Russian Cubo- Futurist book: in 1913—14, for exam- 
ple, they published Te li le, an early virtuoso example of visual poetry in which line 
is coequal with word, and color with sound. 

In 1915—16 Rozanova and Kruchenykh created a new version of the avant-garde 
book by using collages made from colored paper. Rozanova employed this tech- 
nique to particular advantage in her designs for Zaumnaia gniga (Transrational 
Gook), 1915, by Kruchenykh and Aliagrov (pseudonym of Roman Jakobson) and 
Voina (War), 1916 (designed in the summer of 1915), which contained color 
linocuts, collages, and a collection of poetry by Kruchenykh. 

The cover of Voina is the first Suprematist experiment in book design. The 
majestic simplicity of the colors (white, blue, and black) and of the shapes (rectan- 
gle, square, circle, and triangle) suggests comparison with Malevich's works shown 
at o. jo, although there was not a single painting by Rozanova at this exhibition that 
could be called Suprematist." This apparent incongruity, however, can be 
explained by the fact that she came to Suprematism by way of collage, a path that 
was predetermined by the previous evolution of her art. Rozanova was so enthusi- 
astic about transrational poetry that she began to compose verse herself, albeit 
under the influence of Kruchenykh. In turn, Kruchenykh applied himself to the 
visual arts and under Rozanova's guidance created a set of abstract collages for his 
album Vselenskaia voina (Universal War), 1916. In the preface to this edition he 
declared transrational (i.e., abstract) painting to be supreme, affirming that the 
original idea had been Rozanova's. 

Throughout Rozanova's artistic career, color remained her chief concern. 
In such sophisticated abstract paintings as Non-Objective Composition (Right of 
an Airplane), 1916 (plate 49), and two works titled Non-Objective Composition 
(Suprematism) , 1916 (plates 50, 51), she reveals a "discordant concordance" of 
interactive colored planes to create her own variant of Suprematism based on the 
dominant role of color. Malevich appreciated Rozanova's painting of this period, 
once even calling her the "only true Suprematist." 8 Nonetheless, in her article 
"Cubism. Futurism, Suprematism" — much of which was devoted to color in 
abstract art — Rozanova entered into a dialogue with Malevich: whereas for Malevich 
"paint is the main thing, "9 for Rozanova all abstract art is born of a "love of color."" 

The two words "paint" and "color" are in no way synonyms, for each carries the 
essence of Malevich's and Rozanova's respective approaches to abstract art. When 



217 



OLGa rozanova 



Malevich speaks of paint as the most important element in Suprematism, 
he has in mind the concrete materiality of pigment as the primary means of 
expression, the principal instrument. Even when he uses the word "color" 
in his writings (the "self-sufficient components in painting are color and tex- 
ture")," he still means "paint," with all its materiality and the texture it pro- 
duces when applied to canvas. In contrast, Rozanova sees the essence of color 
to lie in its "non- materiality." 1 - Color is no longer an instrument, but a uni- 
versal goal that the artist strives to reach by all the means of expression at his 
or her disposal. According to Rozanova, the task of Suprematism is "to create 
quality of form in connection with quality of color,"' 3 not vice versa, for she 
considered form as merely deriving from color. Later, in 1917—18, she con- 
ceived of the notion of the destruction of form — which is yet another impor- 
tant distinction between her and Malevich, who acknowledged the dominant 
role of the painterly form as such. 

This significant difference between Malevich and Rozanova becomes clear 
when we compare two analogous paintings, such as Malevich's Suprematist 
Composition: Airplane Flying, 1915 (Museum of Modern Art, New York), and 
Non-Objective Composition (Right of an Airplane). Three colors figure in this 
work by Malevich — red, yellow, and black on a white background, symbolizing 
the nothingness of metaphysical space — and three "floating" forms corre- 
spond to these colors: a rectangle, a square, and a narrow strip stretched 
almost into a line. But seventeen colors — the three primary colors, their com- 
plimentary colors, and eleven mixed colors — resound in Rozanova's composi- 
tion. Color variety is justified by a corresponding variety of painterly forms. 
The texture of the painted surfaces is variegated, so that the brushstrokes and 
thinninglayers of paint sometimes come through. Numerous geometrized 
shapes consisting of interconnected parts of triangles, circles, rectangles, and 
other segments intersect in a rhythmic dissonance that seems to have 
exploded and distributed them with enormous centrifugal force. Three large 
colored planes loom in the background — blue, light blue, and yellow — united 
into a single static figure (a structure reminiscent of Liubov Popova's Painterly- 
Architectonics [plate 36])-, and they seem to have crowded out the white back- 
ground, which remains only as a narrow strip along the edges of the canvas. 
The foreground is in sharp contrast to this static element of the painting, and 
the dissonant energy here is the principal difference between her works and 
'Popova's Architectonics, which, in their Utopian equilibrium, appear to over- 
come the chaos of reality and to restore harmony. 1 * 

Unlike Popova, in whose works color emerges with the plastic, almost 
sculpted form of her Architectonics, and unlike Malevich, who subordinates 
color to the new dimension of the dominating space, Rozanova achieves aspe- 




figure 66. OLGa rozanova 

Workboz, 1915 

Oil on canvas with collage, 53 x 33 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow 



cial painterly effect through contrast, dissonance, and the chance harmony of vari- 
ous color combinations determined by rhythm, dynamics, and emotion (as in a 
musical composition). By means of hyperbolic color and a metaphoric combina- 
tion of light and dark, Rozanova introduced a new quality into the geometry of 
Suprematism. The result embodies her idea that "it is the properties of color that 
create dynamism, engender style, and justify the construction. "'5 

The leitmotif of Rozanovas Suprematist compositions is the rebirth of color, 
much as in her poetry it is the rebirth of sound in the dissonant, contrasting com- 
binations of light and dark, heavy and light, warm and cold, harmonious and 
atonal. Her Suprematist works have the same compositional completeness and 
uniform rhythm: the basic color combinations are reflected endlessly in supple- 
mental, fragmentary forms that fill the surrounding space. Her Non-Objective 
Composition (Suprematism), 1916 (plate 50), for example, has only six colors (black, 
white, yellow, blue, and two shades of gray), but they are complementary opposites, 
the white triangle against the gray background embodying the fullness and com- 
pleteness of absolute silence. The contrast of black and white makes for the 
strongest dissonance, which may be read as the archetype in our consciousness. 
With its yellow-gold equivalent of lightning scattered overthe cool fragments of 
blue, the color composition bends to a displacement, an almost Gothic sweep. This 
composition, one of the most atectonic in construction and rhythmically tense and 
expressive, might be called an example of "Romantic" Suprematism. 



■■"' 




V 



/ 

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\U Bit iMtHA // 

/~~cin.t/etn H nfK«t(( 
f/ 




5 e^Aofft /titf\j\ 

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figure 67. OLGa rozanova 

Illustrations for Alexei 
Kruchenykh and Velimir 
Khlebnikov, Te li le 
(St. Petersburg: 1914) 
Institute of Modern Russian 
Culture. Los Angeles 



Rozanova created a number of expressive abstract works that were rather 
different from the initial stage of Suprematism, employing simple forms (usually 
rectangles) or broad, rich planes of color with rough outlines that seem to stick 
to the surface of the canvas. These paintings give the impression of a solid, heavy 
mass of color. Such is the spare, abstract composition in the State Russian 
Museum, which consists of a dissonant arrangement of red, black, and yellow 
pastoge. In 1917 Rozanova wrote: "I have found a new way of investigating color; 
if it is not at variance with the 'transfigured' method then it can be used in 
Suprematist painting as well. " l6 

Rozanova concluded her own color theory — in which she distanced herself 
from Malevich's Suprematism — with the concept of color-painting (tsvetopis). 
Several of her paintings carried this denotation at her posthumous exhibition 
within the First State Exhibition, held in December 1918— January 1919. ' 7 The Tenth 
State Exhibition: Non-Objective Creativity and Suprematism a few months later also 
demonstrated a clear boundary between generic Suprematism and Rozanova's 
color-painting, the exhibition featured color compositions by Ivan Kliun, Mikhail 
Menkov, Alexander Rodchenko, and Alexander Vesnin, as well as several by 
Rozanova. In the catalogue, Malevich remarked on the problem of color, repeating 
some of the principles he had formulated in his 1917 essay on color-painting. 

Rozanova's article "Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism" expresses her ideas on 
the nature of color and its function in abstract art. Referring to the materialization 
of the "immaterial essence of the color," she emphasizes that the "texture of the 
material hinders the pure nature of color." 18 This passage indicates why she turned 
to collages of materials possessing minimal texture, such as transparent colored 
paper. After experimenting with various transformations, she reached her ideal — 
to convey the immaterial essence of color, its inner energy, and luminosity in 



• BOKHA 




PUbBA0.P03AH0B0M 
CjlOBA A.KPyHEHblX 



figure 68. oLGa rozanova 

Cover for Alexei Kruchenykh, Voina 

(Petrograd: 1916) 

Linocut,4ox3i cm 

Courtesy Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne 



painting. Here, the emphasis switched from form and painterly texture to the 
spiritual, mystical qualities of color and its interconnection with light. In the 1916 
Non-Objective Composition (Suprematism) (plate 50), GreenStripe (Color Painting ) , 
1917 (plate 54), and a number of other concurrent paintings, the transparency is 
so great that the effect is of a colored ray of light projected on the white background 
of the primed canvas. In the 1917 compositions, Rozanova achieves a maximum 
luminosity of texture through a transparent color glazing applied to the strongly 
reflective white ground. 

Green Stnpe is surely among the most interesting pieces of twentieth- century 
abstract painting, above all for the radiance of the elusive, palpitating light that 
envelops the translucent green column. Moreover, there is evidence to assume 
that this composition was part of a triptych that also included Yellow Stripe (location 
unknown) and Purple Stripe. "'The effect brings to mind a phototransparency pro- 
jected onto a wall or the experimental painted films of German avant-gardists 
Hans Richter and Viking Eggeling in the 1930s. In his "Posthumous Word" on 
Rozanova, Rodchenko wrote: "Was it not you who wanted to light up the world in 
cascades of color? Was it not you who proposed projecting color compositions into 
the ether. . . .You thought of creating color through light." 20 

Suprematism became a laboratory whose experiments led Rozanova to put her 
innovative ideas into seemingly contrary practices — by creating "color-painting" 
or, as she put it, a "painting of transfigured color far from utilitarian goals" — and 
by attempting to transform the everyday into a "living environment" for art, as was 
the case with the Suprematist designs for women's fashions, handbags, and 
embroideries. 21 Perhaps, after all, Rozanova was the only Suprematist able to com- 
bine a "cosmic" disharmony with the human dimension, and the spiritual, mysti- 
cal and mental with the emotional, intuitive, and sensual. In her last works she 



OLca rozanova 



found — consciously or intuitively — a way out from the Suprematist impasse. If 
Malevich perceived a new religion imbued with the poetics of dehumanization in 
the uncompromising, totalitarian stance of his innovation, Rozanova spoke of a 
new humanized beauty: "Nevertheless, we do believe that the time will come 
when for many our art will become an esthetic necessity, an art justified by a self- 
less aspiration to present a new beauty to the world." 22 With a natural elegance, 
Rozanova combined the universality and severe grandeur of theoretical 
Suprematism with a more local dimension of beauty-, she tinged the spiritual and 
the mystical with emotion and irony and transmuted the "non-objectness" 
of Suprematism into objects of art. 

i. Vasilii Katanian, ed., V.V. Mayakovsky: Polnoe sobrame sochinenii (Moscow: GIKhL, 1955), vol. 1, 
p. 3 97 . 

S. The present location of these works is unknown, and they are presumed lost. For a black-and- 
white reproduction of both, seeOgonek (Petrograd), January 3, 1916, p. 11. The George Costakis 
collection (Art Co. Ltd.) contains sketches for these paintings. 

3. That Rozanova made this series of linocuts in 1914. (which she then incorporated into Zaumnaia 
gniga) is evident from a letter that she wrote to Andrei Shemshurin in the summer of 1915 
(Manuscript Department, Russian State Library, Moscow [inv. no. f. 339, op. 5, ed. khr. 14]). In 
other words, the linocuts supposedly preceded the paintings on the same theme. 

4.. John Bowlt has explained this semantic provocation not so much as a publicity device for gener- 
ating mockery and confusion as a method for transcending the contrived borders between "high" 
and "low." See John Bowlt, "A Brazen Can-Can in the Temple of Art: The Russian Avant- Garde 
and Popular Culture." in KirkVarnedoe and Adam Gopnik, eds.. Modern Art and Popular Culture: 
Readings in High and Low (New York: Abrams, 1990), pp. 1.35-58. For the historical derivation of 
the name "Jack of Diamonds," including its connection with Poncon duTerrail's adventure novel 
Rocambole, le club des valets de coeur (which everybody — "from servants to artists" — was reading), 
see Gleb Pospelov, Bubnovyi valet (Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1990), pp. 99—100. 

5. This series includes Simultaneous Representation of Four Aces (State Russian Museum, 

St. Petersburg), Simultaneous Representation of the Queen of Spades and the Queen of Hearts 
(location unknown). Simultaneous Representation of the King of Hearts and the King of Diamonds 
(Kustodiev Picture Gallery, Astrakhan), King of Spades (location unknown). King of Clubs 
(plate 46), Queen of Spades (plate 47), Queen of Hearts (location unknown). Queen of Diamonds 
(Nizhnii-Novgorod Art Museum), Jack of Hearts (plate 45), Jack of Diamonds (location unknown), 
and Jack of Clubs (Ivanovo Art Museum). Rozanova replaced the Queen of Hearts and Jack of Spades 
in the linocut series by a new card — the Jack of Hearts — in the painting series. 

6. Camilla Gray. The Russian Experiment in Art, 1863—1922 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1963), 
pp. 291-92 n. 223. 

7. See the letters from Rozanova to Alexei Kruchenykh [December 1915; see Documents section]. 

8. Kazimir Malevich, "Vystavka profsoiuza khudozhnikov-zhivopistsev: Levaia federatsiia (molo- 
daiafraktsiia)," in Anarkhiia (Moscow), no. 89, 1918, unpaginated. 

9. Kazimir Malevich, "Ot kubizma i futurizma k suprematizmu: Novyi zhivopisnyi realizm" (1916), 
in Alexandra Shatskikh and Andrei Sarabianov, eds., Kazimir Malevich: Sobranie sochinenii, 5 vols. 
(Moscow: Gileia, 1995), vol. 1, p. 50. 



Nina cunanova 



10. Olga Rozanova. "Cubism, Futurism. Suprematism," [see Documents section]. 

11. Kazimir Malevich, "Ot kubizma i futurizmaksuprematizmu," p. 41. 

12. Olga Rozanova, "Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism." [see Documents section]. 
i3. Ibid. 

14. Dmitrii Sarabianov. "Stankovaia zhivopis i grafika L. S. Popovoi." in I. S. Popova, catalogue of 
exhibition at the State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow, 1990. pp. 56-57. 

15. Olga Rozanova, "Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism," [see Documents section]. 

16. Olga Rozanova, letter to Andrei Shemshurin dated February 18, 1917. Manuscript Department, 
Russian State Library, Moscow (inv. no. f. 339. op. 5, ed. khr. 14). 

17. Literally translated, "color-painting." It is difficult to say whether Rozanova coined the term 
"color- painting" or not. Tsvetopis (and also the word svetopis — "light painting," or photography) 
occurs in Khlebnikov's manuscripts of the 1910s. 

18. Olga Rozanova, "Cubism, Futurism. Suprematism," [see Documents section], 

19. Purple Stripe, which consisted of a diagonal purple stripe on a white background, was in the col- 
lection of the Museum of Architecture and Art, Rostovo-Yaroslavskii, in the early 1920s. 
However, inventory records indicate that the painting was later removed from the collection as 
"a work of no artistic value," and its present whereabouts is unknown. 

20. Alexander Rodchenko, untitled manuscript on Rozanova in the Rodchenko-Stepanova Archive, 
Moscow. I would like to thank Alexander Lavrentiev for granting me access to this document. 

21. See Charlotte Douglas, "Suprematist Embroidered Ornament, " Art journal (New York) 54. no. 1 
(Spring 1995), p. 42. 

22. Olga Rozanova. "Cubism. Futurism, Suprematism," [see Documents section]. 



223 



OLGa VLammirovna rozanova 
(1886-1918) 



1886 Born June 2,2 in Melenki, Vladimir Province, Russia. 

1896—1904 Attends school in Vladimir-on-Kliazma. 

1904—10 Studies at the art school of KonstantinYuonand Ivan Dudin. 

1907 Audits classes at the Bolshakov Painting and Sculpture Institute and at 

the Central Stroganov Industrial Art Institute, both in Moscow. 

1911—13 Moves to St. Petersburg in 1911. Attends the Zvantseva Art School. In 
1912, makes the acquaintance of Russian Futurist poet Alexei 
Kruchenykh, inventor and theoretician of zaum ("transrational," or 
nonsense realism). Maintains close association with the Union of 
Youth, contributing to first Union of Youth exhibition in St. Petersburg 
(1913—13) and its journal in 1913. 

1913—15 Begins to illustrate a series of Cubo- Futurist books, including Te li le 
(1914) and Zaumnaia gniga (Transrational Gook-, 1915). In 1914, meets 
Marinetti in St. Petersburg, and contributes to the Prima Esposizione 
Libera Futurista Internationale in Rome. 

1915 Creates fashion and textile designs, some of which she contributes 

to Women Artists for the Victims of War in Moscow. Contributes to 
Tramway F exhibition in March, to Exhibition of Painting of Leftist 
Trends in April, and to 0.70 in December, all Petrograd. Works with 
Kruchenykh on the album Voina (War-, 1916). Moves to Moscow. 

1916—17 With Kazimir Malevich, Mikhail Matiushin, Liubov Popova, Nikolai 
Roslavets, and others, becomes a member of the Supremus group and 
secretary of its journal (which was not published) . Contributes to the 
last Jack of Diamonds exhibition (the fifth), which opens in Moscow in 
November 1916. Contributes poems to Kruchenykh's Balos (1917). 

1918 Helps decorate the Moscow streets and squares for May Day. Becomes 

a member of IZO Narkompros, with Alexander Rodchenko in charge 
of the Art- Industry Sub -Section of IZO. Helps organize Svomas in 
several provincial towns. Publishes in the newspaperylnarfchiia 
(Anarchy). Acts as secretary of the Leftist Federation of the 
Professional Union of Artists and Painters and contributes to its first 
exhibition. Contributes to Kruchenykh's Exhibition of Moscow Futurists 
in Tiflis. Dies November 7, in Moscow. Posthumous exhibition opens 



234 



ClirollOLOUY 



as the First State Exhibition in Moscow, with more than 250 pieces. 
1919 Represented at the Tenth State Exhibition: Non-Objective Creativity and 

Suprematism. 
1922 Represented at the Erste russische Kunstaustellung in Berlin. 



225 




plate 42. OLGa rozanova 

Portrait of a Lady in Pink (Portrait of Anna Rozanova, the 

Artist's Sister), 1911 

Oil on canvas, n3 x 189 cm 

Museum of Visual Arts, Ekaterinburg 



226 




plate 43. oi.ca rozanova 

Fire in the City (Citrscape). 1914 
Oil on metal. 71x71 cm 
Art Museum. Samara 




plate 44. oLGa rozanova 

Pub (Auction), 1914 

Oil on canvas, 84 x 66 cm 

State Unified Art Museum, Kostroma 



228 




plate 45. OLGa Rozanova 

Jack of Hearts, I9ia(?)-i5, from the series Playing Cards 

Oil on canvas, 80 x 65 cm 

Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 



229 




plate 46. OLGa rozanova 

King of Clubs, 1912c?.)— 15. from the series Playing Cards 

Oil on canvas, 72 x 60 cm 

Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 



23o 




piate47.oixa rozanova 

Queen of Spades, 1 9iz(?)-i5. from the series Playing Cards 
Oil on canvas, 77.5 x 61 .5 cm 
Regional Art Museum. Ulianovsk 



z3i 




plate 48. OLGa rozanova 

The "Modeme" Movie Theater (In the Street) , 1915 

Oil on canvas. 101 x 77 cm 

Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 



23z 




plate 49. OLGa rozanova 

Non-Objective Composition (Flight of an Airplane), 191^ 
Oil on canvas, 118 x 101 cm 
Art Museum, Samara 



233 




plate 5o.0LGa rozanova 

Non-Objective Composition (Suprematism) , 1916 

Oil on canvas, go x 74, cm 

Museum of Visual Arts. Ekaterinburg 



234 







plate 51. oLGa rozanova 

Non- Objective Composition (Suprematism >. 191 6 

Oil on canvas, 102 x 94 cm 

Museum of Visual Arts. Ekaterinburg 



23 5 



plate 52. oLGa rozanova 

Color Painting (N on -Objective Composition) , 1917 

Oil on canvas, 62.5 x 40.5 cm 

State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg 



3 36 




237 




above: 

plate 53. OLGa rozanova 

Non-Objective Composition (Color Painting), 
Oil on canvas, 71 x 64 cm 
Regional Art Museum, Ulianovsk 



917 



facing page; 

plate 54. OLGa rozanova 

Green Stripe (Color Painting) , 1917 

Oil on canvas, 71-5x49 cm 

Rostov Kremlin State Museum Preserve 



2 38 



a39 




figure 69. Varvara Stepanova. Moscow, 1916. 



varvara 
STepanova 



aLexanDer LavrenTiev 



THe "FrenzieD" STepanova: 
BeTween anaLYSis anD sYnTHesis 

Convinced that inventive (analytical) and synthetic (combinatory) capabilities 
reflected different kinds of creative thought. Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara 
Stepanova's husband, used to divide artists into two groups, analysts and synthe- 
sists. 1 Rodchenko classified the work of Kazimir Malevich, Olga Rozanova. and his 
own as analytical, and regarded that of Alexander Drevin and Ivan Kliun, for exam- 
ple, as synthetic. "Synthesists" knowhowto take the aesthetic components and 
potentially useful ideas discovered by other inventors and apply them to specific 
fields of creativity such as the theater, the printing arts, and design. They can 
assemble a new style out of the many possibilities discovered in the course of their 
own experiments, although, of course, any artist is bound to resolve both analytical 
and synthetic issues — and Stepanova was no exception. 

Rorn in 1894. Stepanova. who was of a generation later than the pioneers of 
the avant-garde, moved rapidly from Impressionism and Cezannismto Neo- 
Primitivism, Cubism, Futurism, and, finally, Constructivism. That is one reason 
why Stepanova was able to synthesize easily — for example, she integrated non- 
objective graphic art and transrational poetry, geometric abstraction and figures, 
and combined many systems in her work for the theater, printing, and design. 
In the late 1910s and early 1930s, Stepanova worked closely with the non- objective 



241 



varvara srepanova 



SEHEP 





lull 

i b-1i' in ■ 1 



v» »J 1 ■ * / 




far left: 

figure 70. varvara STepanova 

Caricature of Alexander Rodchenko as a Clown, 1923 
Watercolor, pencil, and photographic collage, 

27-5 x 27-5 cm 
Private collection 

left: 

figure 71. varvara STepanova 

Self-Caricature as a Clown. 1923 

"Watercolor, pencil, and photographic collage. 

3 4-5"25-5 cm 
Private collection 



painters, even though she had had no real Cubist or Futurist training, 2 and in 
1917—18 she experimented with non-objective art herself; a year later, however, 
she turned back to the human figure, though in a spare, geometric style. Among 
the earliest artworks by Stepanova that have come down to us is a printed silk book 
marker (1909), a tempera study of arose. Another composition, a fragment of a 
canvas dated 191a (when she was studying at the Kazan Art Institute), depicts two 
female figures in luxurious dresses with bright stripes of colored fabric and deco- 
rative sequins. 

Stepanova cannot be understood without Rodchenko. and vice versa. They 
were a creative team, and although Stepanova may be considered Rodchenko's stu- 
dent, she guarded her independence jealously (figs. 70, 71). Turning to the past 
seemed pointless to her, for during the 1920s the artists of the left followed only 
one vector — the future. Rodchenko wrote: "Innovators of all times and countries, 
inventors, constructors of the new, the eternally new, we rush into the infinity of 
conquests." 3 Rodchenko and Stepanova met in Kazan in 1914, but at first they 
expressed their sentiments only in intimate poems and letters. The inscription 
in one of her albums of verses and drawings reads: "King of my reveries and 
dreams . . . Verses of V.S., ^3 November. 1914." The "king" is Rodchenko. This 
album includes an elegant portrait of Rodchenko and of the queen herself, sur- 
rounded by flowers and two moons. The style is that of Aubrey Beardsley, whose 
work Rodchenko and Stepanova knew from Russian publications. 

The Russian Cubo- Futurists (David Burliuk, Vasilii Kamensky, Velimir 
Khlebnikov, Alexei Kruchenykh, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and others) tried to com- 
bine words and images in many different ways. They experimented with various 
typefaces and with automatic writing, assumed the double role of artist and writer, 
and investigated phonetic experiments with alliteration of voiceless and voiced 
consonants. Rozanova was especially interested in stress variation and rhythmic 
repetition, as demonstrated by this example: 



242 



aixxanDer LavrenTiev 



Zbrzhest zdeban 

zhbzmets etta 

zhmuts dekhkha 

umerets 

ittera.4 
Stepanova, however, tried to unite the phonetic texture of a text with its 
written texture. In her non-objective poetryyou sometimes sense a coarse phonic 
texture as in"Shukhtazkhkon," and other times a delicate melodic texture, as 
in'Tiantachiol": 

Afta iur inka 

nair prazi 

Taveniu lirka 

taiuz fai 

male totti 

le maiaft 

izva leiatti 

Ifta liiard.5 
As Stepanova affirmed: "I am connecting the new movement of non- objective 
verse as sound and letter with painterly perception and this infuses a new living, 
visual impression into the sound of verse. . . . I am approaching a new form of cre- 
ation. However, in reproducing the painterly and graphic non-objective poetry of 
[my] two books— ZigraAr and RtnyKhomle [both 1918]. I introduce sound as a new- 
quality into the painting of the graphic element and thereby increase the latter's 
possibilities quantitatively." 6 

The variable scale of the letters and their free distribution and orientation — 
all this deliberately hindered the reading of the text, as Kruchenykh and 
Khlebnikov explained in their 1913 brochure. The Word as Such.' In Stepanova's 
compositions, color plays an analogous role: some letters seem to be close, others 
far; some are warm, others cold; the color of the letters and forms, on the one 
hand, and the timbre and type of sound, on the other, make for a complex aural 
and visual interaction. When the elements of color, form, sound, and sign all 
appear together, the result is equivalent to densely layered orchestration, with all 
the components perceived simultaneously 8 (see plates 59—64), rather as Blaise 
Cendrars and the Delaunays were doing with their Simultanism. 

Stepanova contributed eight works to the Fifth State Exhibition in 1918—19: four 
illustrations to Kruchenykh's Gly-Gly (fig. 72) and a composition of letters and 
abstract forms on pages pasted into her handwritten book RtnyKhomle. She signed 
these works "Varst" (i.e.. Varvara Stepanova). At the Tenth State Exhibition: Non- 
Objective Creativity and Suprematism in 1919, Stepanova contributed more than 
thirty illustrations to Gly-Gly and two series of color prints, also from Zigra At and 



243 





far left: 

figure 72. varvara sTepanova 

Illustration for Alexei Kruchenykh's 

Gly-Gly, 1918 

Collage and india ink on paper, 

15. 5X 11 cm 

Private collection 

left: 

figure 73. varvara STepanova 

Rozanova Dancing, 1918—19 
Collage, 15.5x11 cm 
Private collection 



RtnyKhomle. The Gly-Gly illustrations are visual parodies of many representatives 
of the Russian avant-garde arranged on medium- size sheets of thin white card- 
board and carrying references to Malevich's Black Square, Kliun's Suprematism, a 
musical imitation of Mikhail Matiushin, the painterly planes of Popova, and a very 
unstable composition called Rozanova Dancing (fig. ^3 ) . But the same year 
Stepanovawent even further by creating a completely new book object — titled 
Gaust chaba — in a press run of fifty copies. She wrote the verses by hand on sheets 
of newspaper in large black letters running across the newsprint and made non- 
objective collages on some of the pages. 

During the first post-Revolutionaryyears, Rodchenko and Stepanova had no 
permanent apartment. They either rented a room, or lived in the Kandinsky family 
house or at the Museum of Painterly Culture, where in 1930 Rodchenko had been 
appointed curator of the collection of contemporary art, assisted by Stepanova (the 
Museum was in the courtyard of 14 Volkhonka Street, now the Museum of Private 
Collections, which includes the paintings and graphic works by Rodchenko and 
Stepanova) . The Tenth State Exhibition was a watershed in the artistic careers of 
Stepanova and her colleagues Drevin, Popova, Rodchenko, and Nadezhda 
Udaltsova. 

By the summer of 1919, Stepanova was emphasizing a formal tendency that, 
in 1931, would be called Contructivist. She had moved from synthesis to analysis. 
In her linocuts of 1919, Stepanova explored the expressive possibilities of line and 
combinations of geometric forms. From the fall of 1919 through 1931, she pro- 
duced a figural series of paintings and graphic compositions using a stencil and 
outlining contours with a ruler or a compass. The head is always a circle, while the 
torso, arms, and legs are rectangles. In her compositions of the 1930s, Stepanova, 
like Rodchenko, also used the technique of the semi- dry brush, something that 
generated a homogeneous color texture as if from a sprayer. Unlike a spray texture, 
however, this technique was more malleable and allowed the artist to model large 
and small forms. In several drawings, Stepanova employed another tool — the 
toothed wheel dipped in paint which left a repeating pattern of points on the 



244 




it 




far left: 

figure 74. Works by Stepanova in 
the studio she shared with 
Alexander Rodchenko. Moscow, 1921 

left: 

figure 75. varvara STepanova 

Designfor Sports Clothing. 1924 
Gouache and india ink, 
3o. 2x21. 7cm 
Private collection 



paper. This little wheel was nothing more than a standard tailor's tool for pressing, 
which she utilized to press a design onto fabric. Stepanova, who knew how to cut 
fabric, sewed dresses for herself and for Rodchenko's mother, and put together 
the Rodchenko production outfit. Stepanova regarded any medium or set of tools 
as possessing a potential for some creative use, whether her Corona typewriter (at 
one time Stepanova earned her living as a factory accountant) , her Singer sewing 
machine (which to this day still works), or a tailor's instruments. 

In her paintings, Stepanova presented a universal type of human figure with 
a logical, mechanized structure that recalls a child's Lego constructions or her 
own cardboard dolls for the cartoon booklets that she made in 1926 for Sergei 
Tretiakov's verses for children, i.e., Auto-Animals (Samozveri). She first showed 
the Figures series at the Nineteenth State Exhibition in Moscow (at the end of 1920). 
where Rodchenko and Stepanova filled an entire hall with their paintings and 
graphics. The catalogue for that show includes twenty-one oils and fifty-three 
graphic pieces by Stepanova, the subjects being music, sports, and even the ballet. 
The exhibition proved to be an important one for Stepanova. Vasilii Kandinsky, 
playing with the words "Varvara" and "varvarism." coined the term "varvaric art" 
for some of the works she was making at that time. Some observers found that 
Stepanova's paintings were more "masculine" than those of Rodchenko. 

By 1921. many Russian artists were becoming increasingly interested in the 
notion of construction. Karel Ioganson, Konstantin Medunetsky, Rodchenko. 
and Georgii and Vladimir Stenberg made their first free-standing sculptures, and 
Stepanova, too, demonstrated her own understanding of the Constructivist idea. 
She no longer simply searched for schematic, anatomical principles, but tried 
to convey the structural nature of the head, the torso, and the figure as a whole. 
Collector and commentator George Costakis aptly called these works "robots." 9 

Togetherwith Rodchenko and the otherthree participants inthe5^5 = 25 
exhibition, Stepanova announced her decisive move from easel painting to 
production art in September 1921. Terms such as "construction." "production," 
"engineering," "technology." and "object" predominated in their discussions 



245 




ffiBEpr QTKpHThE 



figure 76. varvara STepanova 

Poster for the second part of the 
525 = 25 exhibition, Moscow, 1921 
Collage, india ink, and pencil on paper, 
36x4,4.5 cm 
Private collection 



during this period. The first part oi$x$ = 25 consisted of painting, while the 
second part (which opened two weeks later) consisted mainly of graphic works. 
Rodchenko contributed his construction projects and, as an example of practical 
fabrication, several designs for lamps, Popova designs for constructions, and 
Stepanova her last Figures (plates 73, 73). At that time, Stepanova was teaching art 
at the Krupskaia Academy of Social (Communist) Education 10 and was a member 
of its Institute of Aesthetic Education, where she gave particular attention to chil- 
dren's art. As a result, Stepanova moved from the geometric construction of form 
to the primitive and the spontaneous. Indeed, some of her figures resemble 
totems, although once during an Inkhuk discussion, Vladimir Stenberg called 
them "tadpoles." 11 

Afterja^ = 25, Popova and then Stepanova joined Vsevolod Meierkhold's 
Theater of the Revolution as stage designers. Constructivism as a theory, a 
practical application, and a Utopian project was just asserting itself. Rodchenko 
and Stepanova also became members of Inkhuk. where one of her duties was to 
record the protocols of the meetings and discussions, and they also took part in the 
debates around the journal LefiLeft Front of the Arts). What Mayakovsky once said of 
her is very suggestive: in a copy of his book Liubliu (I Love) which he presented to 
Stepanova, the poet wrote: "To the 'Frenzied' Stepanova with heartfelt feelings." 13 

1 . Stepanova recorded Rodehenko's thoughts about "synthesists" and "analysts" in an entry in her 
diary in 1919. See Alexander Lavrentiev and Varvara Rodchenko, eds., Varvara Stepanova: Chelovek 
ne mozhet zhit bez chuda. Pisma. Poeticheskie opyty. Zapiski khudozhnitsy (Moscow: Sfera, 1994). 
pp. 77-78, 89. 

2. One point of view holds that together with the Non-Objectivist circle of artists (Popova. 
Rodchenko. Rozanova, and Udaltsova), Stepanova followed Malevich in her researches; see 
Evgenii Kovtun, "Put Malevicha," in Malevich, catalogue of exhibition at the State Russian 
Museum, Leningrad [St. Petersburg], 1989, p. 16. This assertion needs serious qualification: the 
Non-Objectivists were united with Malevich in their refusal to imitate nature, but they did not 
adhere to the system of Suprematism. 

3. Alexander Rodchenko. "Iz manifesta suprematistov i bespredmetnikov" (1919), in 



246 



aLexanrter i.avrermev 



Alexander Lavrentiev and Varvara Rodchenko, Alexander Rodchenko: Opyty dim budushchego 
(Moscow: Grant, 1996), p. 67. 

4. Olga Rozanova, untitled poem dated June 8, 1916. Manuscript in the Rodchenko-Stepanova 
Archive, Moscow. 

5. Varvara Stepanova, "Bespredmetnye stikhi, 1918—1919," in Rodchenko and Lavrentiev. eds., 
Varvara Stepanova, pp. 4,1—47. 

6. V. Agrarykh [a one-time pseudonym of Stepanova, invented as a kind of "non- objective" word], 
"0 vystavlennykhgrafikakh," in X Gosudarstvennaia vystavka, catalogue of exhibition, Moscow, 
1919. 

7. Quoted in Nikolai Khardzhiev, "Mayakovsky i zhivopis," in Nikolai Khardzhiev and Teodor Grits, 
Mayakovsky: Materialyi issledovaruia (Moscow: Giz, 1950), p. 38o. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Angelica Zander Rudenstine, ed., Russian Avant- Garde Art: The George Costakis Collection (New 
York: Abrams, 1981). 

10. In 1931 the Krupskaia Academy of Social (Communist) Education was renamed the Krupskaia 
Moscow Regional Pedagogical Institute. 

11. Unpublished typescript. Rodchenko-Stepanova Archive, Moscow. 

13. Mayakovsky also gave Stepanova a copy of his book Votna i mir (War and Peace) , in which he 
wrote the following dedication: "To Comrade Stepanova in memory of the attack on Friche. V. 
Mayakovsky." Vladimir Maximovich Friche (1870-1939) was a Marxist historian of literature 
and art. 



247 



varvara FeDorovna STepanova 

(1894-1958) 



1894 Born October 9, in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania. 

1910—14 Studies at the Kazan Art Institute, where she meets Alexander 

Rodchenko. Moves to Moscow. Studies under Mikhail Leblan, Ilia 
Mashkov, and KonstantinYuon. 

1914 Attends the Stroganov Art Institute, Moscow. Gives private art 

lessons. Exhibits at the Moscow Salon. 

1915—17 Works as an accountant and secretary in a factory. Resumes stud- 
ies with Leblan and Yuon. Begins living with Rodchenko in 
Moscow (1916). 

1917 Experiments with non-objective art and begins to create experi- 
mental non-objective visual poetry. 

1918 Produces non-objective graphic poems such as ZigraAr and Rtny 
Khomle. Contributes to the First Exhibition of Paintings of the Young 
Leftist Federation of the Professional Union of Artists and Painters and 
the Fifth State Exhibition. Becomes involved with IZO NKP (Visual 
Arts Section of the People's Commissariat for Enlightenment). 

1919 Contributes to the Tenth State Exhibition: Non-Objective Creativity 
and Suprematism. Illustrates Alexei Kruchenykh's book Gly-Gly. 
Begins making works in a style that by 1931 came to be known as 
Constructivism. 

1920—33 Participates in discussions and activities of Inkhuk, in Moscow, as 
a member and, in 19250—31, as research secretary. 

1921 Contributes to the exhibition 5" x$ - 25. 

1920— 35 Teaches at the Krupskaia Academy of Social (Communist) 
Education. 

1922 Makes collages for the journal Kino-fot. Designs sets and costumes 
for Vsevolod Meierkhold's production of Tlie Death ofTarelkin at the 
Theater of the Bevolution. Makes series of linocuts on the subject 
of Charlie Chaplin. Contributes to Erste russische Kunstaustellung. 

1933-38 Closely involved with the journals Lef (Left Front of the Arts) and 

Novyi lef (New Left Front of the Arts). 
1934—35 Works for the First State Textile Factory in Moscow as a designer, 

and teaches in the Textile Department of Vkhutemas. 



24,8 



I'll I'OIII \ 



192:5 Contributes to the Exposition Internationale desArts Decoratifs et 

Industriels Modernes in Paris. 
1936-33 Works predominantly as a book and journal designer, fulfilling 

major government commissions. 
1930S-50S Continues to paint, design, and exhibit. 
1941—43 Lives in Perm. 
1958 Dies May 30, in Moscow. 



249 




plate 55. varvara STepanova 

Illustration for the poem "RtnyKhonile," 191E 
Watercolor on paper, 23.3 x 17.7 em 
Private collection 



250 




0l?£ PAtl S^R MAMMA 

40 **5?wfc t^^/ 



plate 56. varvara sTepanova 

Illustration for the poem "RtnyKhomle," 1918 
Watercolor on paper, s3.3 x 17.7 em 
Privale collection 



25 1 








tiAJlli 



plate 57. varvara STepanova 

Illustration for the poem "RtnyKhomle." 191 
Watercolor on paper, ?3.3 x 17.7 cm 
Private collection 



252 




plate 58. varvara STepanova 

Illustration for the poem "Rtny Khomle, " 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 23.3 x 17.7 cm 
Private collection 



253 










plate 59. varvara STepanova 

Illustration for the poem "ZigraAr," 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8x16 em 
Private collection 



254 




plate 6o.varvara siepanova 

Illustration for the poem "ZigraAr." 1918 
Watercolor on paper. 18.8 x 16 cm 
Private collection 



255 




plate 6i.varvara STepanova 

Illustration for the poem "ZigraAr," 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8x16 cm 
Private collection 



256 




plate 62. varvara STepanova 

Mustmtionforthepoem "ZigraAr, " 191 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8x16 cm 
Private collection 



^57 




plate 63. varvara sTepanova 

Illustration for the poem. "ZigraAr," 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8x16 cm 
Private collection 



258 




plate 64. varvara STepanova 

Illustration for the poem "ZigraAr," 191 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8x16 cm 
Private collection 



259 




plate 65. varvara STepanova 

Dancing Figures on White. 1920 
Oil on canvas, 107.5 x x 4^-5 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 



260 




plate 66. varvara STepanova 

Five Figures on a White Background, 1920 
Oil on canvas, 80 x 98 cm 
Private collection 




plate 67. varvara STepanova 

Billiard Players. 1920 

Oil on canvas. 68 x 129 cm 

Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection 



262 




plate 68. varvara STepanova 

Plapng Draughts. 1920 
Oil on plywood, 78 x 62 cm 
Private collection 



263 




plate 69. varvara STepanova 

Trumpet Player, 1920 
Oil on canvas, 70 x 57 cm 

Private collection 



264 




plate 7o.varvara STepanova 

Musicians, 1920 

Oil on canvas, 106 x 142 cm 

Museum of Private Collections. 

Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow 



265 



plate 7i. varvara STepanova 

Self '- Portrait , 1930 

Oil on plywood, 71 x 52.5 cm 

Museum of Private Collections, 

Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow 



266 




267 




above: 

plate 72. varvara STepanova 

Figure (Peasant), 1921 

Oil on canvas. 99.5 x 65.5 cm 

Private collection 

facingpage: 

plate 73. varvara STepanova 

Figure, 1921 

Oil on canvas, 125x71.5 cm 

Private collection 



268 




269 




figure 77- Nadezhda Udaltsova in front of her painting 

Restaurant (plate 83), 1915. Moscow. 



naDezHDa 
UDaursova 



vasiLii RaKinn 



a proFessionaL painTer 

The life of Nadezhda Udaltsova is a tragic one. Her mother died when Udaltsova 
was twenty-seven years old; she suffered from a psychological breakdown follow- 
ing the painful death of one of her younger sisters, Liudmila Prudkovskaia, who 
was also an artist; her father, a retired general, was shot by the Bolsheviks; and her 
husband, fellow artist Alexander Drevin, was arrested and shot in 1938, although 
she fostered the hope that by some miracle he was still alive. But Udaltsova's saving 
grace was art. It was her passion and her guiding light. 

Udaltsova made her debut as a professional artist at the Jack of Diamonds exhi- 
bition in Moscow in the winter of 1914, together with her friend Liubov Popova 
(fig. 78). But only one reviewer, Alexei Grishchenko, an artist whom they knew 
from various Moscow studios, noted their contribution, mentioning that while 
almost the entire exhibition moved under the banner of Picasso, these two young 
women showed an enthusiasm for another French artist — Jean Metzinger — and 
his painting Oiseau bleu (Blue Bird). ' 

That Udaltsova and Popova were exhibiting alongside Henri Le Fauconnier, 
who had sent ten works to Moscow, was not mere chance. Through Le Fauconnier, 
Albert Gleizes, and Metzinger, they had studied the grammar of Cubism at 
La Palette in Paris (also known under the more respectable name Academie de 
la Palette) . At this point, the two women's drawing styles were very similar and 



271 







figure 78. Group photograph taken in the summer 
of 1915 at Vlakhernskaia Station, near Moscow. 
Left to right: UdaJtsova, unidentified man, 
Varvara Prudkovskaia (Udaftsova's sister), 
and Liubov Popova. 



demonstrated that they had assimilated their Cubist lessons well, even though 
their paintings relied on a broader and more universal application of Parisian 
Cubism (fig. 79). 

Cubism, of course, was not just another "ism" — it marked an entirely new era 
as well as a totally new way of making and perceiving art. However, the canon of 
Cubism did not hinder the expression of individuality. Udaltsova, for example, 
accepted Cubism as a legitimate phenomenon that was linked organically to the 
history of European art — with Leonardo da Vinci, the Middle Ages, Poussin — and 
with the environment of Paris itself. When one looked at the "cubes of its houses 
and the interweavings of its viaducts, with its locomotive smoke trails, airborne 
planes and dirigibles, [the city] seemed to be a fantastic and picturesque display of 
original art. The architecture of the houses with their ocher and silver tones found 
their embodiment in the Cubist constructions of Picasso." 2 Of course, Picasso 
drew on many other traditions and sources of inspiration, but this lyrical interpre- 
tation of Cubist painting tells us much about the sensibility and character of 
Udaltsova herself. 

Udaltsova's rendering of space in the paintings of 1914—15 often resembles 
beehives with a multitude of honeycombs, a reticulation however, that does not 
represent a mere accumulation of forms and divisions (see At the Piano , plate 76; 
Guitar Fugue, plate 77, and New, plate 79). As a rule, her Cubist and post -Cubist 
pictorial "constructions" are transparent and light; unfortunately, comparatively 
little of her work from the 1910s has survived, although she made later versions of 
several early pieces. 

During the 1930s, the Tretiakov Gallery, the Russian Museum, and the various 
Museums of Artistic Culture displayed the works of Udaltsova as examples of 
Cubism — and justifiably so. Indeed, Udaltsova's paintings are perhaps the most 
organic manifestation of Russian Cubism or of what we refer to conditionally 
as Russian Cubism, the history of which has yet to be written. 3 Skillfully made, 
Udaltsova's paintings function by understatement and through a precise expres- 



272 



vasiLii RaKiTiri 



sion of her intent, and are characterized by a pictorial serenity, a Cubist sfumato 
(see The Blue Jug, 1915, fig. 81). Malevich declared that the absence of talent among 
the Cubist painters "testifies to its complex essence, "+ but gradually Udaltsova 
fathomed the laws of Cubism, moving from analytical compositions toward a more 
plastic synthesis. 

For Udaltsova, the path to the new painting culminated in the non- objective. 
She compared what she was doing with the work of colleagues, and wondered who 
was right. There was the subtle Vladimir Tatlin, for example, who abandoned 
painting, even though creating a work out of iron and wood might not be much dif- 
ferent from "painting a sunny landscape or the portrait of a girl." 5 Udaltsova, while 
in Paris in her mid-twenties, and sensing the Romantic nature of Tatlin's reliefs, 
understood perfectly well that he was not a Russian Picasso. Tatlin recognized the 
value of her insight into his work, and. in fact, the text in the promotional booklet 
that he distributed at the 0.10 exhibition in December 1915 was by Udaltsova. 6 
Although Udaltsova herself did not construct reliefs, some of her paintings have 
much in common with the plastic works of Tatlin — for example, her Self -Portrait 
with Palette, 1915 (plate 80), and the spiral form of his Monument to the Third 
International, 1919. Although each of them followed a distinct path, the ultimate 
destiny of the new art was of mutual concern to them, and they formed a united 
bloc at Tramway V, 0.10, and The Store, disturbing still further the delicate balance 
between Malevich and Tatlin. 

Udaltsova adhered closely to her aesthetic principles, even though she was not 
an advocate of cool and rational calculation. The various versions of the painting 
Restaurant, 1915, for example (plates 83, 83; fig. 80), demonstrate her skill in 
undertaking a sophisticated game of form and lettering, light and shade , relief and 
plane, while remaining firmly committed to the triumph of painting. In other 
words, the culture of painting as such and the tradition of European painting in 
particular were of extreme importance to Udaltsova, even if she did reexamine and 
interpret the Russian icon. 

War and revolution disrupted the common course and ready interchange of the 
new art, although for the Russians the isolation proved to be beneficial. What hap- 
pened to their painting after Cubism? Certainly, Udaltsova was among the first to 
appreciate Popova's architectonic paintings (plates 36, 3?), and, even if she was 
interested in the plasticity of Suprematism as viewed from the standpoint of 
Cubism and Tatlin, she was also drawn both to its pure color and to its decorative 
potential. When Natalia Davydova asked her to make textile designs for the 
Verbovka peasant art cooperative, the results showed the influence of the charis- 
matic Malevich — indeed, Suprematism seemed an ideal style for the applied arts. 

In the winter of 1916— 17, Udaltsova and her colleagues began referring to 
themselves not as Futurists but as Suprematists, and started to work on a new 

273 





journal, Supremus (which never appeared). Udaltsova, Vera Pestel, and Popova also 
applied their Suprematist ideas to their decoration for the Club of the Young Leftist 
Federation of the Professional Union of Artists and Painters. However, Malevich, 
a born leader, could not reconcile himself to the wide range of opinions within 
the Supremus circle, even if he did welcome Udaltsova's works, inviting her to 
co -direct a studio at Svomas." They had every intention of continuing with textile 
designs and, subsequently, Udaltsova did teach textile design at Vkhutemas- 
Vkhutein and the Textile Institute in Moscow. But as with Suprematist painting, 
decorative art never became her primary interest. After all, Udaltsova thought in 
terms of rigorous, abstract, monumental compositions; Varvara Stepanova even 
referred to three large canvases by Udaltsova called Tectonic Temples. 8 Yet at exhibi- 
tions, Udaltsova continued to include her earlier works from 1914—15, because she 
recognized a strong link between her present and her past. 

With fellow artist Alexander Drevin (whom she married in 1919), she tried to 
unite with Vesnin, Stepanova, and Rodchenko within the Association of Extreme 
Innovators (Askranov). The attempt failed, but she continued to nurture the idea 
of a united front for the new art, and in 1920 tried again with the Objectivists at 
Inkhuk.y However, during one of the many debates in that group, an extreme fac- 
tion declared that painting was not consistent with the goals of modernity and 
should be abandoned, in response to which Drevin, Kandinsky, Ivan Kliun, 
Boris Korolev, and Udaltsova all resigned. But unlike many of her avant-garde col- 
leagues, Udaltsova could appreciate the work of artists with temperaments contrary 
to her own — Rodchenko, for example — although, in general, Constructivism was 
not her cup of tea. For her, painting was primary, and only once, with Drevin and 
their students, did she build a model for a large spatial construction. 10 This had 



274 








facing page, left: 

figure 79. naDezHDa UDaLTSOVa 

Seated Figure, Paris, 1913 
Pencil on paper, 26.6 x 20.5 cm 
Private collection 

t.H NIU [I.IL'l'. I IL'lll 

figure 80. naDezHDa uDarrsova 

Restaurant, 1915 (first version; destroyed) 
Oil on canvas 

left: 

figure 81. naDeZHDa UDaLTSOVa 

The Blue ]ug. 1915 (first version; destroyed) 
Oil on canvas 



been patently clear at the exhibition The Store, where she and Popova had put up 
a handmade poster in their section, reading, "Room for Professional Painters" - 
clearly a polemical challenge to Tatlin. 

Udaltsova's experimental paintings attracted attention at the Erste russische 
Kunstausstellung in Berlin in 1922, but within months she and Drevinwere moving 
away from abstract art. Udaltsova began to paint intense Fauvist landscapes and 
portraits, which she showed at the Vkhutemas Exhibition of Paintings in 19^3 and 
then at the Venice Biennale the following year. She appeared to be moving "back 
to nature," and finding Constable and Corot more exciting than Modernism. But 
appearances are deceptive. If the Jack of Diamonds artists turned toward a more 
trivial kind of Realism, Udaltsova and Drevin (who left a strong imprint on her 
work) presented nature as a grand non-objective painting, as a vital exercise in 
plastic values. Painterly intuition became both subject and object, while painterly 
expression and inner contemplation formed a new unity; so it is not surprising 
that their art failed to concur with the schematic canons of the new Realism during 
the 1950s and early 1930s. When the struggle against experimental art began in 
earnest, Udaltsova and Drevinwere labeled "formalists" and "cosmopolitanists," 
a stigma that persisted until well after World War II. 

Udaltsova did not accept the aesthetic of Socialist Realism, instead continuing 
to adhere to her nonconformist principles. She showed her best works — portraits, 
trees, still lifes — not at public exhibitions, of course, but in the privacy of her stu- 
dio and to close friends, such as Alexander Osmerkin and Robert Falk, and on one 
occasion to the celebrated writer Ilya Ehrenburg, who had not forgotten his own 
passion for the avant-garde and for Picasso in particular. But how criteria change! 
Rodchenko, one of the leaders of the Constructivists — with whom Udaltsova used 



275 



naDezHDa uDairsova 



to wrangle so furiously over the destiny of painting— once wrote to Stepanova, the 
champion of production art: "I was at Udaltsova's and she showed me this painting. 
What a shame you haven't seen it. A really great piece." 11 

i. Alexei Grishchenko, "Bubnovyi valet'. Vpechatleniias vystavki," in Nov (Moscow), no. 22, 1914. 
pp. 9— 10. Metzinger's Oiseaubleu is now in the collection of the Musee d'Art Moderne dela Ville 
de Paris. 

2. Nadezhda Udaltsova. "Avtobiografiia," in Veronika Starodubova and Ekaterina Drevina, eds., 
Alexander Drevm. Nadezhda Udaltsova. Catalogue of exhibition at the Union of Artists of the 
U.S.S.R. (Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1991). p. 91. 

3. Artist and administrator David Shterenherg wrote in his preface to the catalogue of the Erste rus- 
sische Kunstausstellung in 1923: "Russian Cubism developed independently. Hence the impres- 
sion that our Cubist artists did not follow a common scheme" (Shterenberg. "Zur Einfuhrung," 
in Erste russische Kunstausstellung [Berlin: Galerie Van Diemen, 1922]. p. 12). Critic Nikolai Punin 
agreed: "Cubism in Russia and Cubism in Paris are such different entities that they may even 
defy comparison" (1929; quoted in Irina Karasik, comp., Muzei v muzee. Russkii avangard iz kollek- 
tsii Muzeia khudozhestvennoi kultury v sobranii Gosudarstvennogo Russkogo muzeia [St. Petersburg: 
Palace Editions. 1998], p. 397). 

4. Kazimir Malevich, "Vystavka professionalnogo soiuza khudozhnikov-zhivopistsev. Levaia feder- 
atsiia (molodaia fraktsiia)" (1918); quoted in Alexandra Shatskikh. ed.. Kazimir Malevich. 
Sobranie sochmenii, 2 vols. (Moscow: Gileia, 1995), vol. 1, p. 119. 

5. Nadezhda Udaltsova, Letter to Olga Rozanova (1917). See below. 

6. Nadezhda Udaltsova, "Vladimir Evgrafovich Tallin," in [anon.] , Vladimir Evgrafovich Tatlin 
(Petrograd: Zhurnal dlia vsekh, 1915), unpaginated. 

7. Characteristic of Malevich, pioneer and polemicist of Suprematism, is the fact that he listed 
"Malevich, Kliun, Davydova, Rozanova, Menkov, Yurkevich. Udaltsova, Popova, et al." as repre- 
sentatives of Suprematism (i.e., the Supremus circle), but "forgot" about Rodchenko and 
Alexander Vesnin. who were not members of his group. 

8. Alexander Lavrentiev and Varvara Rodchenko, eds., Varvara Stepanova: Chelovek ne mozhet zhit bez 
chuda. Pisma. Poeticheskie opyty. Zapiski khudozhnitsy (Moscow: Sfera, 1994), p. 75. 

9. Seethe Popova essay in this catalogue, n. 4. 

10. The spatial model for a rostrum is reproduced in Sergei Luchishkin, Ya ochen liubliu zhizn 
(Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1988), p. 58. 

11. Varvara Rodchenko, ed., A. M. Rodchenko: Stati. Vospominaniia. Avtobiograficheskie zapiski 
(Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1982), p. 122- 






376 



' 




figure 82. Alexandra Exter in front of Udaltsova's 
paintings at the exhibition The Store, Moscow, 1916. 
Among the works visible are Restaurant (plate 83) 
and Violin (State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow). 



377 



naDezHDa anDreevna iiDaLTSova 

(1885-1961) 



1885 Born December 29, in the village of Orel, toVeraNikolaevna 

Udaltsova (nee Choglakova) and Andrei Timofeevich Prudkovsky. 

189a The Udaltsova family moves to Moscow. 

1905 Graduates from a women's school, and enrolls in the art school of 

Konstantin Yuon and Ivan Dudin in September. 

1907 Meets Vera Mukhina, Liubov Popova, and Alexander Vesnin at the 
Yuon/Dudin school. 

1908 Visits the Shchukin collection. Travels to Berlin and Dresden in 
May— June. Fails entrance exam for the Moscow Institute of Painting, 
Sculpture, and Architecture. 

1910—11 Studies at various private studios, including the Tower (1911). 
1912—13 With Popova. studies under Henri Le Fauconnier. Jean Metzinger, and 

Andre Dunoyer de Segonzac at La Palette in Paris. 
1913 Returns to Moscow, and works inTatlin's studio on Ostozhenka Street, 

withAlexei Grishchenko, Popova, Vesnin, and other artists. 
1914, Makes her debut as a professional artist at the fourth Jack of Diamonds 

exhibition in Moscow, together with Popova. 
1915—16 Contributes works to the Futurist exhibition Tramway Fin 

Petrograd,to the o. w exhibition in Petrograd, and to the exhibition 

The Store (1916) in Moscow. 

1916 Breaks with Tatlin. Is commissioned by Natalia Davydova to design 
textiles. Shows works at an exhibition at the Unicorn Art Salon. 

1916—17 Contributes to the last Jack of Diamonds exhibition. That winter, she 
and her colleagues begin referring to themselves as Suprematists and 
work on preparations for publishing a new journal, Supremus, which 
never appears. 

1917 Is elected to the Club of the Young Leftist Federation of the 
Professional Union of Artists and Painters. Collaborates on the deco- 
ration of the Cafe Pittoresque. Contributes to the Second Exhibition of 
Contemporary Decorative Art. 

1918 Collaborates with Alexei Gan, Alexei Morgunov, Malevich, and Alexander 
Rodchenko on the newspaperylnar/chiia (Anarchy) . Works in various 
institutions, including the Moscow Proletcult. 



278 



CHTOnOLOGY 



1918— 30 Teaches at Svomas, codirecting a studio at Malevich's invitation. 
1919 Contributes eleven pieces from 1914—15 to the Fifth State Exhibition. 

Marries Alexander Drevin. 
1930—31 Member of Inkhuk. 
1930—30 Teaches textile design at Vkhutemas-Vkhutein, and at the Textile 

Institute in Moscow. 
1933 Contributes to the Erste russische Kunstausstellung. 

1933—34 Begins to paint Fauvist landscapes and portraits, some of which she 

shows at the Vkhutemas Exhibition of Paintings in 1933, and then at the 

Venice Biennale in 1934. 
1937—35 Contributes to many national and international exhibitions, including 

joint exhibitions with Drevin at the Russian Museum in Leningrad in 

1938 and in Erevan in 1934. 
1933—33 Contributes to Artists of the RSFSR Over the Last Fifteen Years in 

Leningrad and Moscow, and is criticized for formalist tendencies. 
1938 Drevin is arrested during the night of January 16—17. 

1945 Solo exhibition at the Moscow Union of Soviet Artists. 

1958 Contributes to a group exhibition at the House of the Artist in Moscow 

in October. 
1961 Dies January 35, in Moscow. 



279 







plate74-IlaDeZHDa UDaLTSOVa 

Seamstress. 1912-13 

Oil on canvas, 71.5 x 70.5 era 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 




plate75- naDCZHDa UDaLTSOVa 

Composition, io,i3 

Oil on canvas, 111.5 x *33 cm 

Museum of History and Architecture. 

Pereiaslavl-Zalesskii 




plate76.naDezHDa UDaLTSova 

At the Piano, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 107 x 89 cm 

Yale University Art Gallery, 

Gift of Collection Societe Anonyme 




plate 77. naoezHDa UDausova 

Guitar Fugue. 1914—15 
Oil on canvas. 70.3 x 50.4 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow. 
Gift. George Costakis 



283 




facing page: 

plate78. naDezHDa uDaursova 

Artist's Model, 1914. 

Oil on canvas, 106 x 71 cm 

State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg 

above: 

piate79. nacezHDa UDai/rsova 

New, 1914-15 

Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 cm 

Vasnetsov Regional Art Museum, Kirov 



285 




plate 8o.naDezHDa uDaLisova 

Self-Portrait with Palette. , 1915 

Oil on canvas, 72 x 53 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 



286 




plate 8i.naDezHDa uDaLTsova 

RedFigure, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 70 x 70 cm 

Rostov Kremlin State Museum Preserve 



387 




plate Sz. naDezHDa uDaursova 

Study for Restaurant, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 71 x 53 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 



288 







plate 83. IiaDeZHDa UDaLTSOVa 

Restaurant, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 184.x 116 cm 

State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg 




plate 84. nanezHDa uDarrsova 

Kitchen, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 161 x 165 cm 

Museum of Visual Arts, Ekaterinburg 



290 



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i - l i ^B| 






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plate 85. naDezHDa UDaLTSova 

Painterly Construction, 1916 
Oil on canvas, 109 x79 cm 
State Tretialiov Gallery, Moscow 



291 




plate 86. naDezHDa uDansova 

Untitled, 1916 

Watercolor on paper. 48 x 40 cm 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 



292 




* 



1 




plate 87. naDezHDa uDaLTsova 

Untitled. 1916 

Gouache and pencil on paper, 24.6 x 15.9 cm 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 



293 




294 




facing page: 

plate 88. naDezHDa UDausova 

Untitled, 1916 

Gouache on paper, 48 x 38.5 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 

above: 

plate 89. naDezHDa UDarrsova 

Untitled, 1916 

Gouache on paper. 64 x 44.5 cm 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 



295 






amis 



f3% 



*JGr-ZZi OS»-£k ^- 



e^A 



/ZZ<z^e**^C^r 




e^^se~*£&-^ 




rJo2c±**CS <^<? ^^ *^<3 



aC~0^ 




figure 83. Handwritten letter from Exter to Alexander Rodchenko, dated April, 21, 1920. 
Private collection. (Translation on page 3o6.) 



aLexarmra 
exTer 



Letterto Nikolai Kulbin (1913 -14) 1 

... I am now rather close to 
Archipenko and I'd like to help him. 
Not only is he the only sculptor that 
Russia has. but he's the best here, too, 
even if he's not known in Russia. He 
really should be talked about, an article 
really ought to be placed. . . . Judging by 
the mood here, I feel that people are 
expecting [a lot] from us Russians, so 
that's why we should try to attract 
somebody like Archipenko." 

An Exhibition of Decorative Designs 
by Evgeniia Prihylskaia and Ganna 
Sobachko (1918) 2 

Types of decorative art include, among 
others, designs for the weaving, sew- 
ing, and printing of fabric and rugs. An 
essential characteristic of this kind of 
art is the planar resolution of forms in 
vegetable, animal, and architectural 
ornament. A decorative composition 
itself differs from a painterly composi- 
tion in that it is conditioned by the 
fundamental requirements of rhythm— 
that is, by the repetitiveness of 
colored, silhouetted forms in designs, 
for example, for fabrics in which 
rhythm may be freer and more com- 
plicated. Asymmetrical representa- 
tion, which we often observe in 
primitive compositions, could also be 



mentioned as a simpler kind of rhythm. 

Decorative designs must submit to 
the technical demands of their future 
execution and, therefore, only designs 
for the embroidery and weaving of rugs 
may be resolved more freely in lines 
and colors. 

When we turn to popular art and 
study it or a composition deriving from 
it. we see that the traditional approach 
had been purely external. Wary of los- 
ing "style," artists feared to go beyond 
the conventional form and also chose 
that particular color which the period 
in question had created. Intensity of 
color, characteristic of more recent 
ethnic groups, particularly the Slavs, 
was replaced by the patina of the time, 
which seemed correct and appealing 
since it recalled the good old days. 

However, this kind of approach 
may certainly not be regarded as work 
in the popular style, since its basis in- 
cludes no investigation into the roots 
and laws of color and line composition. 

For laws governing the composition 
of coloring in folk art we may point to 
ancient icons, whose initial coloring 
achieves maximum tension and whose 
composition possesses an inner rhythm 
and balance. Examples of contemporary 
folk creations in Slavic art also reveal a 
purity and intensity of color. 



-■•'■•' 



DocumenTS 



In decorative folk art, we perceive 
the development of the laws of compo- 
sition, from primitive rhythm (the rug, 
clay) to dynamic rhythm (the painted 
Easter egg) . 

In Search of New Clothing (1923) 3 

Clothing design has always depended 
on both climactic conditions and social 
structures and the way of life that this 
may generate. Although during the 
early stage of human history clothing 
design was also the product of a collec- 
tive, unconscious creativity, nonethe- 
less, at the foundation of this creativity 
always lay the elements of a certain 
conformity and expediency. In the 
sphere of clothing, a conscious and 
individual kind of art appeared only 
much later. 

That is why historical shifts them- 
selves have always occasioned change 
and sometimes a total negation of ear- 
lier clothing designs that failed to meet 
the conditions of life. [The Great] War 
of 1914 and its laws, without any kind 
of ideological aspirations, greatly 
transformed the form and color of 
army uniforms. Clothing evolved from 
ostentatious conventionality to designs 
dictated by expedient necessity, both 
in active military service and in passive 
defense. The demands of war forced 
the change from an originally cold, 
gray color to a defensive camouflage 
color that blended with the earth. 
Various colored stripes and conven- 
tional insignia were replaced, and the 
design [of the uniform] itself was 
simplified. This was expedient and, 



therefore, legitimate. Only the civilian 
segment, which visited the front occa- 
sionally, degenerated and distorted 
this simple working military uniform 
by carrying its characteristic features 
to the blatantly absurd. Thus, for 
example, the uniform of the Russian 
"land hussar" consisted of foreign 
jodhpurs and service jacket, which 
look naturally right on the body of the 
athletic European — but not trans- 
ferred onto the stocky figure of the 
Russian, who lacks any sort of physical 
training. 

During the Civil War, a diversity 
and indeterminateness of color domi- 
nated clothes — which is quite under- 
standable from a psychological 
standpoint inasmuch as life had devel- 
oped so rapidly and the forms of exis- 
tence had been destroyed so swiftly 
that there could be no thought of creat- 
ing a new kind of clothing. The very 
idea seemed inessential in the broader 
context of those grand elemental 
events. Only now. after emerging vic- 
torious from the struggle. Russian life 
is entering the path of conscious work 
leading toward the ideological elabora- 
tion of questions in everyday life and 
toward the external look of the human 
being— clothing. Where tailoring was 
once dominated by a single "fashion," 
serious investigations and scientific 
and artistic research into new forms 
have begun. 

The most important achievement 
in this area has been the outfitting of 
the Red Army. . . . 

Clothing white -collar workers, 



3oo 



aLexarmra exxer 



however, has proved less successful. 
The design remains quite unresolved, 
while all our institutions abound in the 
most ill-assorted kinds of clothing. 
This is a problem that still confronts 
artists and specialists alike. 
Expediency, practicality, conformity to 
each special field — these are the foun- 
dations upon which professional and 
Soviet clothing should be created. 
Form, material, and color — these are 
the elements from which this should 
be created. In the interests of utility in 
both warm and cold periods, this 
clothing should be constructed from 
materials of different thickness, that 
is, parts should be able to be removed 
from the outfit without violating its 
general meaning and logic. The color 
of the clothes worn by a given number 
of people in a particular space should 
be, convention notwithstanding, not 
neutral, but a dark, primary color — no 
more bureaucratic coldness and 
anonymity. 

Experiments on specific "produc- 
tion clothing'' have also been under- 
taken in the sphere of theatrical 
costume. Here, however, there is still a 
confusion of conceptions between the 
costume of the theatrical performer 
and the outfit of workers in other areas 
of production. The actor [could be] 
dressed in a worker's outfit, whether of 
a mason or of a carpenter, which had 
no real connection with the performer. 
Onstage, we have seen workers of some 
kind of unprecedented "guild" who 
had never existed and workers who. in 
spite of their proletarian aprons, did 




figure 84. Frame from the movie. Aelita. 1924, produced 
by Yakov Protazanov with costumes by Exter and sets by 
IsaakRabinovich. 



not honestly labor, but rather played 
and jumped without soiling their outfit 
or just utilizing their apron as needed. 
In other theaters, the confusion 
reached such a point that we saw the 
conventional, painted, theatrical cos- 
tume, production clothing, and modi- 
fiable costume of the heroine. It has to 
be said that the contemporary special- 
ized costume for stage performers has 
still not been discovered. However, 
this kind of production clothing has 
existed for centuries: the "tutu," i.e., a 
costume constructed according to the 
movement of the body during a classi- 
cal dance. Ballet shoes, leg tights, 
lightness of the skirt, flexibility of the 
torso — all these are logically con- 
nected with the dance and make the 
"tutu" the production clothing of clas- 



3oi 



DocumenTs 




4AlEPH6//r ~ TEsCTP 



/v^JUKA-A foPTEP xyao^KHH k-ajkztep 



figure 85. Poster for Alexander Tairov's production 
of InnokentiiAnnensky'sTTiamira Khytharedes. 
Chamber Theater, Moscow, 1916. Bakhrushin State 
Theater Museum. 



sical ballet. Right now, when the the- 
ater is studying every possible kind of 
movement (physical, emotional, 
tightrope walking, etc.), the theater 
should base its production clothing on 
the movement of the actor's body. 
Fundamental laws of the costume 
should be found that, of course, would 
allow for variations and changes of one 
kind or another. . . . 

The fundamental condition of 
contemporary aesthetics should also be 
observed: respect for material. In this 
case, the material is fabric and we 
should not constrain this material for 
the sake of the caprices of fashion, but 
proceed from it. That is the condition 
of the new costume. It should be incor- 



porated into distinct geometric forms, 
one or two, rarely three. Color should 
emerge from the design itself. The 
vivid colors so characteristic of folk 
costume, particularly of the Slavs, can- 
not be preserved completely under 
urban conditions; but to reject it out 
of hand would mean to follow the path 
of European civilization, with its 
homogenizing spirit. The very envi- 
ronment of Russia demands color — 
rich, primary colors, moreover, and 
not mere tones, as, for example, with 
the diffused color of France (Germany 
dresses more brightly and more 
sharply than France does). 

Simplicity of designs and respect 
for material are dictated not only by the 
new aesthetics, but also by the 
demands of life itself. . . . 

The Artist in the Theater (1919)* 

. . . In preserving the flat painted deco- 
ration, designers who worked in the 
style of Rakst were unable to resolve 
the most crucial problems of stage 
design. The ordinary stage with its 
backdrop and curtains was fraught with 
two problems of plastic discordance. 
First, the painted perspective and vol- 
ume of flat decorations could not work 
together with the concrete volume of 
the actor's figure. Second, the motion- 
less, painted background could not 
enter into rhythmic unity with the 
figures moving out in front. Con- 
sequently, the designers, despite their 
fanfare of colors, never achieved the 
desired harmony and wholeness of a 
single and common impression. The 



3oa 



aLexanDra exTer 



architectural decorations of [Gordon] 
Craig and [Adolphe] Appia came much 
closer to resolving the fundamental 
plastic problems of the theater. 

Free movement is the fundamental 
element of the theatrical act. The bland 
contemporary stage must be enriched 
above all with movement. As a conse- 
quence, the artist's mission is to give as 
much space on the stage to the dynamic 
powers of drama as possible while at 
the same time keeping them under 
control. The artist may achieve this 
mastery over the dynamic action [only] 
through architectonic constructions. It 
is essential to make a clean break with 
the painted decoration and to replace it 
with three-dimensional forms in dif- 
ferent combinations. The fundamental 
guidelines of these combinations 
should be calculated so that the essen- 
tial dramatic movement can develop 
freely with them in accordance with the 
inner rhythm of the drama. The action 
can be moved to a greater height by 
uniting the floor of the stage with the 
upper edge of the stage box by means of 
platforms, ladders, and bridges. This 
will give the actors a chance to display 
the maximum degree of dynamic 
action. On these bridges and ladders, 
[they] can perform short, individual 
dramatic scenes, quick in tempo, as in 
some of Shakespeare's dramas. 5 

Dramas that differ in their rhythm 
demand different methods of stage 
construction. Thus in Innokentii 
Annensky's Thamira Khytharedes , sim- 
plified volumetric forms of rocks and 
cypresses arranged in a semicircular 



line guided the movement of the 
Bacchic translations. 6 Only architec- 
tonic constructions assisted by volu- 
metric forms may blend into a 
harmonious, plastic whole with freely 
moving figures. Amidst sets that are 
painted, even if brilliantly so, such a 
confluence in unthinkable. 

In dramas more reserved and con- 
centrated, with minimal external 
movement, such as Oscar Wilde's 
Salome." one can apply the method of 
animating certain elements of the set, 
in this case consisting of colored 
planes that move by means of an elec- 
tric current. 

Their dynamism should conform 
strictly to the action in the drama. The 
effect of moving colored planes follows 
from the emotional power of the har- 
mony of the colors. It is also possible to 
modulate light. With this method, the 
light in the auditorium and onstage 
increases, weakens, and modulates in 
color and intensity according to the 
course of the drama. At the same time, 
the auditorium and stage join together 
as if in one common atmosphere, which 
strengthens the effect of the drama 
significantly. In general, all these 
methods serve a single goal: to allow the 
inner rhythm of the drama to manifest 
itself within the movement onstage. 

As for the representational side of 
the sets, a general allusion to the 
nature of the environment in which the 
action takes place should suffice, so 
that the actor may direct all the atten- 
tion of the audience to the dynamic 
action, to the performance of his body. 



3o3 



DocumenTS 




uonpocw riHEHN/i 

5*5-25 

YJ\ KOTOPM5 B OAMH MIS 

ABToPW £S£?fc 

figure 86. Varvara Stepanova, Poster for the 5 3:5 = 25 
exhibition, 1931, colored india ink on paper, 
36x44.5 cm. Private collection. The poster reads: 
"Put questions and opinions about the exhibition 
$x$ = 25 in the box, and the artists will respond at one 
of the scheduled evenings." 

For the artistic reproduction of a 
particular period onstage, all you need 
to do is to capture the fundamental 
plastic idea of its style, which can be 
embodied quite freely, without re- 
sorting to the copying of museum 
specimens. One can observe this 
fundamental idea most easily in the 
architecture and ornamental design of 
a given period. Thus, for example, hav- 
ing utilized a pointed arch characteris- 
tic of the Medieval Gothic, you can 
echo it in the costumes and stage con- 
structions. In this way, the artist can 
endow style with a totally new, unex- 
pected interpretation while preserving 
a general faithfulness to the very spirit 
of the period in question. 

For the costumes, it is essential to 



employ the same principles as in stage 
construction: principles of dynamic 
action. The composition of the cos- 
tume, its form and color, should con- 
form strictly to the character of the 
bearer's movements. This is fully 
attainable, since the various combina- 
tions of form and color may either 
strengthen or weaken the effects of the 
movement by imparting this or that 
tone to them. When studying the stage 
and the actor as a plastic whole, more- 
over, it is difficult to agree with the use 
of costumes made of "real" material 
alongside simplified, conventional 
three-dimensional sets. Costumes 
should be painted by the artist: the 
folds may be suggested by the paint- 
brush, [and] ornaments may be pre- 
sented as individual fragments and in 
greatly exaggerated proportions, so 
that accidental folds and intricate 
needlework will not disrupt the clarity 
and integrity of the overall impression. 
Only under such conditions may the 
will of the artist be observed com- 
pletely and the necessary unity 
achieved. The actor in a "real" costume 
on the conventional stage creates a 
crude dissonance. . . . 

Artist's Statement in the Catalogue of 
the Exhibition 5 \ 5 = qg(iy2,i) s 

These works form part of a general plan 
of experiments on color which, in part, 
helps to resolve the issues of the inter- 
relationship of color, its mutual ten- 
sion, rhythmic development, and 
transition to color construction based 
on the laws of color itself. 



304 



aLexanDra exTer 



Letter to Vera Mukhina, 
(March 3, 1929)9 

Dearest Vera, 

... I am now preparing an exhibition 
at the Quatre Chemins for May 15. 10 1 
don't know what will happen after that! 
As always after every exhibition, I shall 
begin to paint in earnest, because I 
really want to, and anyway I do want to 
present myself as an active painter. 
Morally I've grown stronger over the 
past year and I'm no longer in the 
confused state that you found me in 
last summer. Some mornings I even 
feel a new strength, and I feel that once 
again I can believe in my powers. I 
think that your visit exerted a profound 
influence on me. . . . 

I suppose that the heroes of the sea- 
son are de Chirico and Rouault. 
Diaghilev has invited both of them to 
design new sets, a characteristic nod to 
the latest fashion. I understand that de 
Chirico might do something interest- 
ing, but I can't imagine what Rouault 
can do for the stage. Nothing, obviously. 

However, Utrillo and Modigliani 
have vanished from gallery windows. 
Hidden away. Concealed. 

Of [current] exhibitions, I'm 
impressed by the show of a certain 
German, Helmut Kolle . . . Made a deep 
impression on me and I, too, had this 
desperate desire to paint people, but 
without psychological [interpretation]. 
Our discussions last summer con- 
vinced me and made it clear that with 
every fiber of my being I protest 
against psychology, however much it 
might be the thing right now. You 



know, Vera, there's something very 
stubborn in me, and on principle I 
always protest energetically whatever's 
"in," as one of my old friends says. No 
doubt, I've left behind the present, but 
from my point of view that's better 
than trying to pursue what's fashion- 
able, and you can understand that like 
nobody else. After all, you, too, have 
always protested against "fashion." 
Maybe now is the only time when you 
and your tastes have coincided with the 
times, but Vera, believe me, this is a 
moment only. It will pass, and once 
again you will be alone in art. I've been 
through it all and am going through it 
again now in the deep sense of losing 
stylistic "collegiality," because what I 
believed in has gone. Turning toward 
individuality is what's left. 

A propos of individuality — I 
looked at the first issue of the Cahiers 
dart, which has photographs of the 
contemporary Moscow sculpture by the 
Vesnin brothers and others." Well, 
with documents in hand I can show you 
what's been borrowed, and from 
where, or downright stolen both in the 
idea and in its parts. Nothing, nothing 
original. . . . 

I'd like to see Russians above 
everyone else, for I'm convinced that 
Russians are the strongest and most 
talented people. They're strongest in 
the theater, but in the other plastic arts 
we are pathetic and clumsy imitators, 
always have been, but maybe one day 
we won't be like that. 



3o 5 



DocumenTS 



Letter to Vera Mukhina 
(December^ 194s) 12 

My dear, 

Late last night I found out that I might 
have news of you. I got so worked up 
that my heart began to ache. In general, 
my health's not good . . . Pain in my 
heart, cramps in my hand, very weak, 
have to lie down. I lie around the whole 
day just by myself and see nothing but 
the inside of my apartment. . . . 

I work away quietly, but joylessly, 
with no feelings. Just can't finish the 
commissions. ... I feel really bad, 
hopeless. . . . Loneliness, sickness, 
lack of will power and energy, work that 
brings no joy — that's all I have left. 
Occasionally there are days when I feel 
more serene, but then I again fall into a 
depression. Events have really broken 
me and I no longer want to live."' 3 

Translation of figure 83: Dear Alexander 
Mikhailovich, I know that you're angry, but 
really it's not entirely my fault. I was asked 
to go by the Chamber [Theater] and had to 
stay there the whole day. I'll drop by after 
Romeo [and Juliet]— if you'll replace your 
anger with kindliness. Alexander 
Mikhailovich. I've sent in half the commis- 
sion (sketch for Romeo and 'Juliet) . Best 
wishes, Alexandra Exter 

1 . This extract was published in Kolesnikov. 
"Alexandra Exter i Vera Mukhina" (1989). 
p. 105: translated from the Russian by John 
E. Bowlt. Exter sent this letter from Paris 
(where she was living in 1913—14,) to Nikolai 
Ivanovich Kulbin (1868—1917), an artist and 
"Doctor of Russian Futurism." Kulbin was a 
a leading light among the St. Petersburg 
Cubo- Futurists, writing, lecturing, and 



organizing innovative exhibitions such as 
The Triangle (St. Petersburg, 1910), to which 
Exter contributed. The letter is in the 
Department of Manuscripts, Russian State 
Museum. St. Petersburg (inv. no. f. 134. ed. 
khr. 62). 

2 . This extract was published in Alexandra 
Exter, "Vystavka dekorativnykh risunkov 
E. I. Pribylskoi i Ganny Sobachko," 
Teatralnaia zhizn (Kiev), no. 9 (1918), p. 18. 
Exter was personally acquainted with 
Evgeniia Ivanovna Pribylskaia (1877-1948) 
and Ganna Sobachko (1883—1965). two 
Ukrainian artists. 

3. A. E-r [Exter], "Vpoiskakh novoi odezhdy," 
Vserossuskaia vystavka (Moscow), no. 2 
(1923), pp. 16-18. 

4. Exter's thoughts about the theater were 
noted down by her student. Filipp 
Goziason. and published as "Khudozhnik v 
teatre. Iz besedy s Alexandroi Exter." in 
Odessku listok (Odessa), no. i3o. September 
28, 1919. p. 4- Filipp Osipovich Goziason 
(1898-1978) was a stage and book designer 
who spent most of his life in France. 

5. Exter designed productions of several 
Shakespeare plays, such as Othello and 
Merchant of Venice, in this way. Her album of 
pochoirs,j4tezand.ra Exter: Decors pour 
Theatre (Paris: Quatre Chemins. 1930: with 
a Preface by Alexander Tairov) includes 
designs for some of these. 

6. Exter designed the sets and costumes for 
Alexander Tairov's production of Thamira 
Khylharedes at the Chamber Theater, 
Moscow, in 1916. 

7. Exter designed the sets and costumes for 
Alexander Tairov's production of Salome at 
the Chamber Theater. Moscow, in 1917. 

8. Alexandra Exter, untitled statement in the 
catalogue (unpaginated) of the exhibition 
53:5-35. held at the All -Russian Writers' 
Club, Moscow, in September 1921. Exter 
contributed five works to the exhibition: 
Problem of Color Contrasts, Color Tension, and 
three Color Rhythms . under the general title 



3o6 



aLexanDra exTer 



"Planar- Color Construction. " A second 
515 = 25. with the same artists also repre- 
sented by five works each (Exter, Liubov 
Popova, Alexander Rodchenko. Varvara 
Stepanova, and Alexander Vesnin), followed 
in October. 

9. This extract was published in Kolesnikov, 
"Alexandra Exter i Vera Mukhina." (1989). 
p. 108: translated from the Russian by John 
E. Bowlt. Living as an emigre in Paris. Exter 
maintained a regular correspondence with 
her Soviet friend and colleague Vera 
Ignatievna Mukhina (1889-1953). Mukhina 
was a sculptor who in 1987 achieved instant 
fame with her enormous stainless-steel 
statue of a worker on top of the Soviet pavil- 
ion at the Exposition Internationale desArts et 
Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in Paris. In 
spite of her status as an official Soviet artist. 
Mukhina still went to see Exter during her 
visits to Paris in 1928. 1987. and 1945. Exter 
and Mukhina had first collaborated as 
designers for Alexander Tairov's Chamber 
Theater in Moscow before the 1917 
Revolution and, until Exter's departure in 
1924. continued to work on joint projects 
such as dress designs for the Moscow 
Atelier of Fashions: Mukhina even helped 
Exter with the costumes forYakov 
Protazanovs movie^elita. The letter is in 
the Russian State Archive of Literature 
and Art. Moscow (inv. no. f. 2.326. op. 1. 
d.khr. 254). 

10. Exter's exhibition at the Quatre Chemins 
gallery in Paris consisted of fifty stage 
designs and maquettes. 

11. There were three Vesnin brothers, 
all of them architects: 

Alexander Alexandrovich (1883-1959). 
Leonid Alexandrovich (1880-1933), and 
Viktor Alexandrovich (1882-1950). 

12. This extract was published in Kolesnikov. 
"Alexandra Exter i Vera Mukhina." (1989). 
p. 108; translated from the Russian by John 
E. Bowlt. The letter is in the Russian State 
Archive of Literature and Art, Moscow 



(inv. no. f. 2826, op. 1. d. kh r. 254). 
i3. Exter was in ill health (she had a serious 
heart condition), and had just lost her 
second husband. Georgii Georgievich 
Nekrasov (1878-1945). 



307 



■■■/-■' 

figure 87. Part of manuscript by Goncharova on art movements, ca. 1914. 
Collection of the Khardzhiev-Chaga Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam (Box 78). 




naTaLia 
GoncHarova 



Album (1911?) 1 

When I follow the path of Cezanne, my 
works satisfy me less than those that 
derive from totally different artifacts 
such as icons, the Gothic style, and so 
on. Perhaps this is because of a lack of 
talent or of a kinship with other souls, 
and this terrifies me sometimes. But I 
am taking the path I want. Cezanne and 
icons are of equal value, but the works 
that I have made under the influence of 
Cezanne and those that I've made 
under the influence of icons are not. 
Corot is outstanding, but I just can't 
work under his influence. I'm not 
European at all. Eureka. 

A church mural motif. An ocher 
background, light with chrome. In the 
background, pale green, yellowish 
branches weave together around the 
whole cupola. Many of the branches 
hold tiny leaves, like those of a dahlia 
(in three shades of green) . The 
branches have flowers, pink (scarlet 
and cinnabar) with white lead and 
chrome, and tiny fruits, yellow and 
red. The branches are joined to blue 
trunks with little transverse strokes of 
a paler color. The trunks descend a lit- 
tle below the middle of the church win- 
dows. At the top of the trunks and on 
the branches sit peacocks and tiny, 
varicolored birds. The trees are being 



watered by holy figures and angels with 
dark faces and halos, in simple clothes 
with heavy folds. A radiant Christ, a 
pole axe in his hand, descends from a 
mountain to his church and garden in 
order to find his withered tree. Will the 
Lord not let me paint this? Lord, for- 
give me. . . . 

Jealousy is based on sensuality — 
that is, on sexual attraction — and that 
attraction, which, for no reason what- 
soever, draws you to people who other- 
wise would hold no interest at all, is a 
torturous feeling. It would be interest- 
ing to see what would happen if the 
attraction were to be gratified every 
time. Perhaps it would then not be 
aroused so often and would not always 
be such an insoluble issue, would not 
be something that can destroy the hap- 
piness of an entire life at any moment, 
destroy the love that we value, would 
not set all hell loose without giving 
anything in return. Even when not fol- 
lowed by agonizing consequences, 
jealousy still disturbs your life, dis- 
turbs your social interaction with oth- 
ers. It prevents you from becoming 
close to those of the opposite sex and 
often drives you away from your own 
friends. Perhaps I alone am such a 
corrupt monster. . . . 

Others argue — and argue with 



3og 



DocumeriTS 



TfyGTMHMMKU Wl 

HOSMA 

AKpy^EHbixt 




figure 88. Cover and illustrations by Goncharova 
for Alexei Kruchenykh, Pustrnniki (Moscow, 1913). 

me — that I have no right to paint 
icons. I believe in the Lord firmly 
enough. Who knows who believes and 
how? I'm learning how to fast. I would 
not do so otherwise, for it feeds too 
many rumors that tarnish the best 
feeling's and intentions. People say that 
the look of my icons is not that of the 
ancient icons. But which ancient 
icons? Russian, Byzantine, Ukrainian, 
Georgian? Icons of the first centuries, 
or of more recent times after Peter the 
Great? Every nation, every age, has a 
different style. You can understand the 
most abstract of things only in the 
forms that you see most often, and also 
through whatever works of art you've 
seen — that is consolidated within 
some kind of material, through an 
understanding or, rather, recapitula- 
tion by previous artists. Of course, 
within all that material you perceive 
only what resonates with you. In a cer- 
tain sense, everyone is color-blind — 
hence the differences we see in artists 
of the same period and even in the 
most realist of artworks by different 
peoples, whether Russian. Chinese, or 



Persian, etc., made during the same 
period, [or] the differences between 
the ancient artworks of a people and 
later ones by the same people. That's 
the point. 

Misha has written me the following 
note from military camp: 

"Do drawings of the sky and the 
clouds in pencil and watercolor. Make 
them both literally and also as they 
might appear, in all cases observing 
their characteristics. Do this simply so 
as to seize the most outstanding char- 
acteristic at a given moment. In this 
way, no one drawing will resemble the 
next, just as it happens in nature that 
no one motif resembles another. Do 
drawings of things, the landscape, peo- 
ple just as they appear at a given 
moment in your imagination; fear 
absolutely nothing, no deformity of any 
kind, no fabrication, no fantasy. Try 
out various styles and methods, 
emphasizing first one part, then 
another, now movement, now the very 
position of the ob j ect itself in space 
and its relationship to others. Change 
them according to your imagination 
and instinct, urge yourself to do it pre - 
cisely that way or in accordance with 
the idea that you have worked out con- 
sciously in your own mind. 

"Study the sky in engravings or 
other kinds of pictures. Study the 
expression of faces, too, in engravings, 
paintings, and in life." 

I rewrote this so as not to lose it. I 
will try to recollect what he said and 
write it all down: 

"It is not to an artists merit to find 



3io 



naTaLia concHarova 



himself and then to keep on painting 
in the same old manner and with the 
same old colors. It is much better to 
keep creating new forms and color 
combinations. You can combine and 
invent them forever. For example, here 
is what you can do : spread green and 
orange pigments over a clean, primed, 
white canvas, and draw over them with 
black. The effect will be the same as in 
popular prints if, whenever passing the 
brush over the [orange] each time, you 
use a new brush to continue the line 
over the white in the same way that 
black lines in a popular print are cov- 
ered in certain places by green and 
other colors. The colors set off the 
black lines while they cross over onto 
the background and pass from one 
object onto another. 

"You can do this so that the sur- 
faces of the objects border each other, 
a dark surface bordering a light one, 
and vice versa, so that they are not 
divided by lines (as in Picasso's works) 
or so that they border each other with 
thin lines. Thus the thin, hard lines 
outline an object which is of the same 
color as its background. In the sky, you 
can employ the same methods and 
apply the same colors, both dark and 
light, bordering them with various 
lines. Generally speaking, a line that 
borders an object can be darker than 
[the] object. So that it stands out, it is 
best to avoid broad lines and use them 
only if needed. They serve as a kind of 
extra (third) line, which can be used 
like a color separating two objects. You 
can make bright, almost white, faces 



with shades of black, green, blue, or 
red and place them on a dark back- 
ground. This creates a very strong, 
almost tragic impression, like the fig- 
ure of a smoker on a round tobacco tin. 
You can try this combination on objects 
in the environment: surround a direct 
white light and then the color of the 
object itself with the deepest shade 
of black. 

"Orange, yellow, and red create the 
brightest effect. It works well to add 
blue and bright green, which, when in 
such proximity, become particularly- 
bright. It is better to work on some- 
thing that takes longer. At any rate, you 
have to give it some thought. 

"You can begin ahead of time, 
without knowing [where you're going] . 

"One more thing I forgot to write: 
you can combine the color of one work 
with the style of another and thus ere - 
ate a piece unlike the other two. 

"Create the theme of a work, the 
combinations of colors, and the man- 
ner or style separately. Consequently 
and inevitably, observations, and both 
realistic and fantastic forms, will flow 
into the work." 

Misha asked me to note these 
things down and, of course, I'll do that. 

For the moment that's all I can 
recall of what Misha told me yesterday 
and three days ago. I'll write down what 
he says. 

Letter to the Editor (1912) 2 

Dear Mr. Editor. 

Since the unofficial opponents at the 

debate on the new art were granted no 



DocumenTS 




figure 89. Maiden on the Beast. 1914. Sheet no. 5 in 
Goncharova's album of lithographs, Misticheskie 
obrazyvoinr (Moscow, 1914), 32.5x24.8 cm. Private 
collection. 

more than five minutes to respond 
(and part of that was lost, what with the 
noise in the hall and onstage), I did not 
have the chance to finish what I had 
begun to say. Consequently, my hum- 
ble request is that you print the follow- 
ing continuation of my speech. 

During the course of his speech, 
Mr. Kulbin showed photographs of my 
paintings. Spring in the Countryside and 
Spring in the Town, so as to reinforce his 
highly confused theories about our ill- 
starred modern art, especially Cubism. 
Cubism is a positive phenomenon, but 
it is not altogether a new one, espe- 
cially as far as Russia is concerned. The 
Scythians made their stone maidens in 
this hallowed style. Wonderful painted, 
wooden dolls are sold at our fairs. 



These are sculptural works, but in 
France, too, it was the Gothic and 
African figure sculptures that served as 
the springboard for Cubist painting. 
Over the last decade, Picasso has been 
the most important, most talented 
artist working in the Cubist manner, 
whereas in Russia it has beenyours 
truly. I do not renounce any of my 
works made in the Cubist manner. At 
the same time, I just cannot accept any 
kinship with the flaccid Jack of 
Diamonds group. The members of that 
venerable institution seem to think it's 
enough to join the apologists of the 
new art, including Cubism, to become 
an artist of the new persuasion, even if 
they lack tone in color, the power of 
observation, and artistic memory. 
Their mastery of line is pathetic, and 
it's not worth talking about their tex- 
tures. Judging by their paintings, these 
artists have never thought about this or 
worked on it. In many cases, they are 
hopeless academics, whose fat bour- 
geois faces peep out from behind the 
terrifying mugs of innovators. This 
simply confirms that pathetic snails 
will cling to any ship. Andrei Bely had 
some good things to say about this in 
his manifesto, when he spoke about 
decadent literary small-fry. 

It's a terrible thing when a formu- 
lation of theory begins to replace cre- 
ative work. I assert that creators of 
genius have never created theories, but 
have created works on which theories 
were later constructed; and after that, 
works — for the most part of very low 
quality — were built on [those theories] . 



3l2 



naTaua GoncHarova 



What can be said about particular 
individuals can also be said of entire 
cities and countries at a certain 
moment in their artistic existence. In 
Italy, where there is a total lack of con- 
temporary art. Futurism suddenly 
appeared, i.e., the art of the future, a 
mixture of Impressionism and emo- 
tionalism. As a theory, Futurism is no 
worse than any other, but where can 
the Italians find the means to imple- 
ment it? Germany also lacks contem- 
porary painting and for the most part 
has borrowed the history and tech- 
niques of her neighbor, France. That 
even the slightest theory will still exist 
in the absence of a single popular his - 
tory of contemporary art is confirmed 
by the great toiling away at [making] 
pictures and [applying] paint, even on 
the part of Signac and Cross. 

The Cubist Picasso is great and, in 
France (above all, Paris), stands at the 
very center of contemporary painting. 
In this respect, the destiny of the 
Russian center of painting, Moscow, 
coincides with that of Paris. Both cities 
are besieged by foreign theorists with 
their big theories and little accom- 
plishments. 

I assert that religious art — and art 
that exalts the state — was and will 
always be the most majestic, and this is 
because such art, first and foremost, is 
not theoretical, but traditional. Hence, 
the artist could see what he was depict- 
ing and why, and, thanks to this, his 
idea was always clear and definite. It 
remained only to find the perfect and 
most well-defined form so as to avoid 



any misunderstanding. Please note 
that I have in mind not academic train- 
ing (since I consider academism to be a 
transient phenomenon), but rather the 
eternal successive connection that 
Cezanne had in mind and that creates 
genuine art. In contradistinction to 
what was said at the debate yesterday, 
therefore, I assert that what's depicted 
is, was, and will be important, and that 
how it's depicted is also important. 

I assert that there can be an infi- 
nite number of forms to express an 
object and that they can all be equally 
beautiful, independent of the theories 
that coincide with them. It was said at 
the debate that contemporary art is 
renouncing beauty as it advances 
toward ugliness. I assert that this opin- 
ion seriously undermines the meaning 
of beauty, ugliness, and art as phenom- 
ena, which in this case have their own 
laws and do not coincide with life. 
Ugliness in art is whatever is weak in 
technique, texture, line, color, and 
distribution of form and color masses. 

Accept my assurances of deep 
respect. 

Open Letter (1913?) 3 

What can I say about women that has 
not already been said a thousand 
times? To repeat all of the good and 
idiotic things that have been said about 
my sisters a thousand times already is 
infinitely boring and useless, so I want 
to say a few words not about them, but 
to them: Believe inyourself more, in 
your strengths and rights before 
mankind and God. believe that every - 



3i3 



DocumenTS 




figure 90. Goncharova in front of her painting, 
Spanish Ladies. 1920, Paris 

body, including women, has an intel- 
lect in the form and image of God, that 
there are no limits to the human will 
and mind, that a woman should not 
only carry within herself thoughts 
about heroism and great deeds, but 
should also search for a hero and cre- 
ator among her male colleagues in 
order to create heroes and creators in 
her daughters and sons. Remember, 
too, that when one colleague is base, 
lazy, and stupid, another ends up wast- 
ing half of his/her effort struggling 
with that person, leaving only one half 
for the rest of life. 

Letter to Filippo Tommaso Marinetti 
(1914) + 

Monsieur Marinetti, 
Our country is a beautiful country. It is 
bigger and younger than yours. Italy 
used to be a beautiful, young matron 
[sic] , then a beautiful, fifty-year old 
courtesan, and then a beautiful beggar- 
woman. Being a beggar-woman after 
such a beautiful career means the end, 
even if one has a Futurist son or 



daughter. Our country, of which you 
are a guest, is still a child. For her 
everything is in the future as [illegible] . 
[She is] a fantastic, but not exotic, 
creature [whom] Europe may exploit, 
but can never comprehend. 

Woman is [illegible] . They are 
mother- men and formally are women- 
men-lovers, but as with the worker, 
there is no need to despise them. In 
Russian, the word chelovek [human 
being] designates the human beings of 
both sexes. Which concerns human 
relationships and our own nationality. 
As for the new color [painting] , I can 
tell you that a dozen years ago art in 
Russia abandoned the museums 
[while] our grandparents were [still] 
sketching life around them. For the old 
and fragile nerves of Italy and Europe, 
Futurism is very much for the nerves 
[sic] , whereas for Russia, however, it 
hardly exists-, it is a new academicism, 
one with a Romantic character. You see 
very well that I am right. . . . 

Letter to Boris Anrep (1914)5 

Dear Boris Vasilievich, 
Thank you very much for the letter and 
the invitation, and for thinking of me. 
If everything works out, I'll be in Paris 
on business this spring. 6 

Why do you write about the dis- 
tance separating the artist and his work 
like that? Is it really so important that 
an artist remain completely bound 
together with his work? Man is a com- 
plex machine, perpetually moving and 
changing, and a work, once completed, 
becomes a static thing with its own 



314 



naTaLia GoncHarova 



individual life, a life that lasts longer 
than that of the individual who created 
it: the difference between the two has 
always existed and always will. If you 
try and approach your work from the 
distance of the future, when you will no 
longer have the painting you created 
anywhere near you, then all that's left 
is simply whether the work has been 
created well or poorly, strongly or 
weakly. What remains is merely the 
extrinsic and intrinsic artistic value 
and absolutely nothing of the extent to 
which the work expressed the artist, 
his soul, or his connection with what 
he created. Nonetheless, the material 
of the work, and, beyond that, its cre- 
ative spirit, lies not in the individual, 
but in the people, in the nation to 
which the individual belongs, in its 
earth and nature. It is part of the com- 
mon, popular soul, like a flower on a 
huge tree. True, the flower may be torn 
from the tree and planted in an artifi- 
cial growing environment, and at first 
it will perhaps begin to bloom still bet- 
ter, but. even so, it would have been 
nicer had the flower remained on the 
tree. For the Russian artist, this tree is 
Russia and the East, but not Europe, 
from whence she can and must take 
military ships, aeronautics, methods 
for attack and defense. The artist, how- 
ever, needs to devote his life to indige- 
nous places, to take life from 
indigenous places. 

Please forgive my overly serious 
tone, but these are things that I think 
about a lot. A Russian cannot become a 
European without first creating a divi- 



sion between his [or her] own inner 
world and the means of expressing 
[this] in external life — dressing, walk- 
ing about, or making poetry, music, 
and painting — all of which possess a 
certain dryness and restraint, don't 
express things very well, and provide 
little gratification. The same might 
happen if you withdraw into the aes- 
thetic and the archaeological. 
However, there is also another way of 
discovering equilibrium, i.e., forget 
your first love, become the adopted son 
of a foreign country, and give yourself 
up to the new country completely. 
That's what happened with van Gogh, 
Gauguin, and Picasso, but not with the 
Russians. Again, please forgive me for 
the overly serious tone, but there are 
things in your letter that do not allow 
me to write lightly or on just any old 
topic. 

We will be happy to help your 
Englishman as someone who has seen 
you recently. Your name suffices for 
us to welcome him, but he hasn't 
turned up yet. What a shame that it's 
just a friend of yours and not you 
yourself. I do ask you to understand 
that I do not forget you and that your 
name alone would suffice for M[ikhail] 
F[edorovich] and I to welcome him as a 
good person." 

My exhibition has been a really 
great success. 8 Rundles of newspapers 
featuring articles big and small, one 
contradicting another. There have 
been photographs of me. reproduc- 
tions in journals, flowers [sent to me], 
interviews, letters (from various 



3>5 



DocumenTs 



ladies), and a lecture about me and my 
work-, there were public scandals and 
receptions in restaurants, three edi- 
tions of the catalogue, commissions for 
portraits, for a carpet, for [stage] 
decors; and three works were pur- 
chased for the Tretiakov Gallery (very 
early works, to be sure, but all the 
praise is lavished on my old works, not 
the new ones — to which two rooms 
were devoted and which met with little 
approval, but which caused a furor).? 



i. These are excerpts from an undated manu- 
script entitled "Albom" in the Archive of 
the Khardzhiev-Chaga Cultural Foundation, 
Amsterdam (in Box 78); translated from the 
Russian by J. Frank Goodwin. The "Album" 
is difficult to date with precision, but the 
fact that Goncharova emphasizes her cur - 
rent interest in icons and refers to a letter 
that Mikhail Larionov had written from 
military camp (Larionov was drafted in 
October 1910 and was in an army camp near 
Moscow in the summer of 1911) indicates 
that this section of the "Album" dates 
from 1911. 

2. Goncharova wrote this "Letter to the 

Editor" on February i3, 1912, the day after a 
debate organized by the Jack of Diamonds 
group and held in the Greater Auditorium 
of the Polytechnic Museum, Moscow. 
Chaired by Petr Konchalovsky, the debate, 
dedicated to the new art, consisted of three 
main lectures — by David Burliuk ("On 
Cubism and Other Directions in Painting"). 
Nikolai Kulbin ("The New Art as the Basis of 
Life"), and, in absentia, Vasily Kandinsky 
(and read aloud by someone else) — fol- 
lowed by comments by Goncharova, 
Larionov. and Maximilian Voloshin. 
Goncharova sent this letter to several news - 
papers. The manuscript of the text pre- 



sented here, "Letter to the Editor" ["Pismo 
k redaktoru 'Russkogo slova'"] (undated), is 
handwritten in pen on fourteen sheets and 
is addressed to the editor of Russkoe slovo 
(Russian Word). Russkoe slovo did not pub- 
lish the letter, although part of it was pub- 
lished in the Moscow newspaper Protiv 
techeniia (Against the Current), March 3. 
1912. Shorter versions of the letter have also 
appeared in Eli Eganbiurfs 1913 mono- 
graph on Larionov and Goncharova, pp. 
18—19. and in Benedikt Livshits's memoirs 
(Benedikt Livshits, The One and a Half -Eyed 
Archer, translated by John E. Bowlt 
[Newtonville, Mass., 1977], pp. 82-84). A 
French translation of the entire letter 
appeared inTatiana Loguine, Gontcharova et 
Larionov: Cinquante ans a Saint Germain-des- 
Pres (Paris: Klincksieck, 1971), pp. 21—23. 
This English translation by Thea Durfee first 
appeared inExpenment (Los Angeles), no. 1 
(1995), pp. 162—63 (NB.: it appears here 
with some slight editorial changes). The let- 
ter is preserved in the Manuscript Division 
of the Russian State Library, Moscow (inv. 
no. f. 259, R.S.,i3 ed.. k. 4). 

3. Goncharova's "Open Letter" is handwritten 
in pen on paper, and, while undated, is 
probably from 1913, since it is accompanied 
by a copy of the celebrated group photo- 
graph of the contributors to the 1913 Target 
exhibition. It is preserved in the Nikolai 
Rykovsky Archive at the Manuscript 
Division of the Russian State Library. 
Moscow (inv. no. f. 421, no. 1, ed. khr. 33). 

4. Goncharova wrote this undated letter, in 
pencil and in halting French, during 
Marinetti's visit to Moscow and 

St. Petersburg in January and February 
1914; translated from the French by John E. 
Bowlt. It is not known whether the letter 
was ever sent. Clearly Goncharova was 
incensed by Marinetti's open disdain for 
women, at least as voiced in his manifestos 
and speeches. Although Marinetti attracted 
attention as a social curio, and some of the 



3i6 



naTaua GoncHarova 



Russian intelligentsia welcomed him, he 
commanded neither respect nor popularity 
with the more radical wing of the Russian 
avant-garde. But even if Goncharova and 
her closest Russian colleagues tried to dis- 
tance themselves from Marinetti, critics 
tended to regard both the Italians and the 
Russians as parts of the same generic 
Futurism. The Moscow newspaper Nov 
(New) even reproduced a photograph of 
Goncharova to accompany a commentary on 
Marinetti's visit (see P. Kozhevnikov, 
"Italianiskii futurizm," January 29, 1914. 
p. 3). The letter is in the collection of the 
Khardzhiev-Chaga Cultural Foundation. 
Amsterdam (in Box 78). 
This unfinished, undated letter, written in 
pencil, is thought to have been written in 
1914,8 conclusion based on Goncharova's 
reference to the three editions of the cata- 
logue of hersolo exhibitions in 1913—14 
(two for the Moscow venue, one for the 
St. Petersburg venue); translated from the 
Russian by J. Frank Goodwin. It is not 
known whether the letter was ever sent. 
Boris VasilievichAnrep (1883-1969), 
a painter, sculptor, mosaicist, and writer, 
was born in Russia but lived mainly in 
France, England, and Scotland. Before the 
Revolution, he often returned to 
St. Petersburg, mixed with the local artists 
and intellectuals (at one time he was very 
close to poet Anna Akhmatova) , and con- 
tributed several articles to the journal 
Apollon (Apollo) . Anrep put together the 
Russian section for Roger Fry's Second Post- 
Impressionist Exhibition at the Grafton 
Galleries, London, in 1912. which included 
a strong representation by Goncharova and 
Larionov. Presumably, Anrep's and 
Goncharova's friendship dates from that 
time. The letter is in the collection of the 
Khardzhiev-Chaga Cultural Foundation. 
Amsterdam (in Box 78). 
Invited by Sergei Diaghilev, Goncharova 
and Larionov left for Paris via Rome in April 



1914, and they stayed with Anrep for much 
of their time in Paris. 

This paragraph has been crossed out in the 
original. The "Englishman" has not been 
identified. 

A reference to Goncharova's solo 
exhibitions in Moscow (September- 
November 1913) and St. Petersburg 
(March-April 1914). 

In March 1914, the public censor removed 
twelve "blasphemous" works from the pre- 
view of the St. Petersburg venue of 
Goncharova's exhibition. 



A 



J|H By\pl> 




figure 91. Cover for Popova's handmade book. Pankm otdykh, 1901 
Watercolor. ink, and pencil on paper, 17.6x11.2 cm. 
Private collection. Moscow. 



LIUBOV 

popova 



Artists Statement in the Catalogue of 
the Exhibition 5x5 = 25(1931)' 

All these experiments are visual and 
should be regarded merely as a series 
of preparatory experiments toward 
concrete, materialized constructions. 

Department of Contemporary 
Russian Painting: Explanatory 
Classification (ca. 1931) 2 

Whether due to the greater age of 
Western artistic culture or because of 
the stimuli of concurrent artistic 
impulses, the history of contemporary 
Russian painting is experiencing the 
same evolution and revolution of artis- 
tic forms as Western Europe is. 

Although Russian painting in its 
initial stages also coincides with the 
course of Western painting or evolves 
parallel with it, its individual devia- 
tions seem to expose another root, one 
nourished by the art of Russia's past 
and the unqnestionable influence of 
national and psychological character. 
Consequently, many Russian artists 
may regard any attempt to accommo- 
date contemporary Russian painting 
within a precise scheme based on a 
consecutive development of pictorial 
ideas (which Western art follows, par- 
ticularly French art of recent decades) 
as troublesome, if not as an act of vio- 



lence. Indigenous national culture or 
again, perhaps, national, painterly 
emotion, comes through all too obvi- 
ously and distinctively. 

The two points of derivation — 
French art as a school and the private 
psycho -physical impetus — produce a 
specific kind of painting that always 
stands out at international exhibitions 
by virtue of its deviation from the 
common herd. This also provides 
instant identification of the artist's 
nationality. 

Nevertheless, let us try to locate 
and classify the pictorial foundations 
of this kind of work. In its aspiration 
toward formal expression, French art 
of the second half of the nineteenth 
and early twentieth centuries attained 
one of its culminating points with 
Impressionism, whose synthesis of 
undulating colors was intended to 
create a [total] image in the eye of 
the viewer. 

Later on, the goal narrowed and 
consciously so, as [French art] moved 
away from the object and its concept to 
purely formal emotions. Cezanne no 
longer depicted the impression of the 
object, but only its essence, the 
essence of its color, volume, and the 
drawn. . . . 



319 



DOCumenTs 




figure 92. Liubov Popova. Clock, 1914. Oil and wallpa- 
per on canvas, 88 x 70 cm. Private collection, Moscow. 

Impressionism as a New Approach to 
Color (ca. 1921) 3 

Color assumes a formal significance. 
With Impressionism, in general, we 
can speak of a new consciousness and a 
"new style" in art. What — even at the 
highest moments of formal art — 
appeared to be merely a method (its 
formal significance often manifested 
itself spontaneously) , becomes content 
andpurpose. 

Moments of formal achievement 
[are] Impressionism, Cubism, Futur- 
ism, Suprematism, Objectivism* 

The latter tendency denotes an 
abrupt turn, one that is occurring on a 
completely new level. The goal here is 
not what results in any one of the 



spheres of the elements, for another 
shift of the entire and total construc- 
tive consciousness is taking place — 
from the representation of the object 
to its concrete, material organization. 
What happens to the entire object also 
happens to all its individual parts or 
elements, as in the case of color. 

In Impressionism, color moved 
away from representation only with the 
help of the colorizing means of paint- 
ing. Now, however, color is no longer a 
means of representation, but assists in 
its own materialization. Both within 
the material texture of the material 
itself (or its imitation) and with the 
help of texture, abstract color materi- 
alizes, distinguishes itself from the 
representation of color, and becomes a 
goal that exerts an influence through 
its concrete essence, independently of 
the method of representation. 

But the goal has been torn from its 
traditional, applied denotation, all the 
way down to being designated as formal 
pictorial relations, except that they 
themselves have become the goal as 
such, contributing to the construction 
of a living organism. 

On Organizing Anew (ca. 1931)5 

We have no need to conceal our pride 
that we are living in this new Great 
Epoch of Great organizations. 

Not a single historical moment will 
be repeated. 

The past is for history. The present 
and the future are for organizing life, 
for organizing what is both creative will 
and creative exigency. 



320 



LIUBOV popova 



We are breaking with the past, 
because we cannot accept its hypothe- 
ses. We ourselves are creating our own 
hypotheses anew and only upon them, 
as in our inventions, can we build our 
new life and new world view. 

More than anyone else, the artist 
knows this intuitively and believes in it 
absolutely. That is exactly why artists, 
above all, undertook a revolution and 
have created — are still creating — a 
new world view. Revolution in art has 
always predicted the breaking of the 
old public consciousness and the 
appearance of a new order in life. 

A real revolution, unprecedented 
in all the enormity of its significance 
for the future, is sweeping away all the 
old conceptions, customs, concepts, 
qualities, and attachments and is 
replacing them with new and very dif- 
ferent ones, as if borrowed from 
another planet or from alien creatures. 
But wasn't art the forerunner of this 
revolution — art that replaced the old 
world view with the need to organize — 
and to such an extent that even the end 
of "art" was declared? In fact, this 
[new] form has declared the end not 
only of the old art. but perhaps of art in 
general or. if not the end, then an 
artistic transformation so great that it 
cannot be accommodated within the 
old conception of art. 

An analysis of the conception of 
the subject as distinguished from 
its representational significance lies at 
the basis of our approach toward 
reality: at first there was the deforma- 
tion of the subject, and this was fol- 




figure 93. Cover design made in 1922 by Popova 
for the music journal K novymberegam. 1923. 
Gouache and india ink on paper. 24.5 x 18.6 cm. 
Private collection. Moscow. 



lowed by the exposition of its essence, 
which is the concretization of a given 
consciousness within given forms. It 
also marks the beginning of the 
organization of the artistic media. 

As a purpose, this is not new. for 
there has been no significant era in 
art when the subject was not deformed 
in accordance with the external energy 
of expression or reconstructed from 
a need to concretize a particular world 
view. 

To the extent that a given conflu- 
ence of historical conditions for the 
formation of a certain consciousness 
is unique, that condition of conscious- 
ness in relation to its own past. 



321 



DOCumenTS 




figure 94. Popova's Moscow studio, 1924. pho- 
tographed by Alexander Rodchenko. showing: 
(bottom left) her maquette for The Magnanimous 
Cuckold (1922); (above door) Painterly Architectonics 
(1917, Museum of Modern Art, New York); a maquette 
for her project (with Vsevolod Meierkhold and 
Alexander Vesnin) for an open-air mass spectacle 
intended to celebrate the theme of Struggle and Victory 
for the Congress of the Third International in 1921 ; and 
(on easel) a set design in collage on plywood for Earth 
onEnd (1928). 

present, and future will also be singu- 
lar and unique. 

That's the first point. 

The second point is still more 
important — above all, the moment of 
creation: a new organization of ele- 
ments is created out of the constant, 
traditional ones, which are so only 
because, ultimately, we know only one 
and the same concrete material. 

Through a transformed, [more] 
abstract reality, the artist will be 
liberated from all the conventional 



world views that existed hitherto. 

In the absolute freedom of non- 
objectivity and under the precise dic- 
tation of its consciousness (which 
helps the expediency and necessity of 
the new artistic organization to mani- 
fest themselves), [the artist] is now 
constructing [his/her] own art, with 
total conviction. 

Our fanaticism is conscious and 
assured, for the scope of our experi- 
ences has taught us to assume our posi- 
tive place in history. 

The more organized, the more 
essential the new forms in art, the 
more apparent it will become that our 
era is a great one and indispensable to 
humanity. 

(Form + color + texture + rhythm + 
material + etc.) x ideology (the need to 
organize) = our art. 

Note (ca. 1931) 6 

I don't think that non-objective form 
is the final form; rather, it is the revo- 
lutionary condition of form. 

One must renounce the object 
and all the conventionality of the 
traditional [kind of] representation 
connected with it. We must feel com- 
pletely free of everything created 
before us in order to attend to the 
emergent need. We can then look dif- 
ferently at the form of the object, which 
emerges from the work not only trans- 
formed, but as an altogether different 
form. 

Not only theoretical work on the 
concept of volumetric form, line, or 
color, but also working on the joining 



322 



LIUBOV popova 



of these disparate concepts (their syn- 
thesis should produce the concept of a 
new form) — this is what [we mean by] 
the construction of pictorial form, lib- 
erated, of course, from any excres- 
cence irrelevant to painting. 



unfinished manuscript in a private collec- 
tion. Moscow: translated from the Russian 
by J. Frank Goodwin. 



Liubov Popova, untitled statement in the 
catalogue (unpaginated) of the exhibition 
5x5 = 25, held at the All-Russian writers' 
Club, Moscow, in September 1921; trans- 
lated from the Russian by John E. Bowlt. 
Popova contributed five works to the exhi- 
bition: Spatial -Volumetrical [Construction] . 
[Construction] of Color Planes , Enclosed 
Spatial Construction .and two Spatial - Force 
[Constructions] . 

Popova. "Otdel noveishei russkoi zhivopisi: 
Obiasnitelnaia klassifikatsiia": translated 
from the Russian by J. Frank Goodwin. The 
text is from an unfinished, undated manu- 
script in a private collection. Moscow. 
Popova. "Impressionizm kak novyi pod- 
khod ktsvetu": translated from the Russian 
by J. Frank Goodwin. The text is from an 
undated manuscript in the Department of 
Manuscripts. State Tretiakov Gallery, 
Moscow (inv. no. f. 148. ed. khr. 75. 11. 1-2). 
The term obektivizm refers to the position of 
the Group for Objective Analysis, founded 
byAlexei Babichev within Inkhukin 1921. 
Countering the extreme attitude of Alexei 
Gan. Alexander Rodchenko. Georgii and 
Vladimir Stenberg. Nikolai Tarabukin. et 
al.. who called for the total rejection of stu- 
dio painting in favor of production art. the 
Objectivists recognized that art could develop 
on the basis both of traditional studio paint- 
ing and sculpture and of industrial design. 
Popova, "0 novoi organizatsii"; translated 
from the Russian by J. Frank Goodwin. The 
text is from an undated manuscript in a pri- 
vate collection, Moscow. 
Popova. untitled text from an undated. 



3 2 3 



UUi ittW tf2$£ OU<U '7ijL<UteSU, \ Ui ^U^n, •k i fLf±-f~UUou~tO^ 
.. - ■ ,, i - I lift i ■yw i3rVi-U, Lou au ikui. 







figure 95. Handwritten letter from Rozanova toAlexei Kruchenykh, December, 1915. 
in connection with the 0.10 exhibition, Petrograd, 1915— 16. Archive of the 
Khardzhiev-Chaga Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam (Box 78). (Translation on 

page33o.) 



OLGa 

rozanova 1 



Letter to Anna Rozanova 
(Deeemberc), 1913)- 

Your portrait [Portrait of a Lady in Pink, 
(Portrait of Anna Rozanova, the Artist's 
Sister) plate 4?] has caused a sensation 
among artists! ... I met a most inter- 
esting guy today, David Burliuk, and 
now I'm in love with him. 3 We shook 
hands. He really likes my paintings and 
says he's discovered a star in me. He 
particularly liked my portrait of you 
and the houses in landscapes, too. 
Burliuk lectures on art. Wanted to 
photograph my paintings so as to show 
them to the public on the screen. He 
lectures in different cities. Good for 
him! What a great chest he has! But 
he's a bit impudent. Tomorrow he's 
lecturing in St. Petersburg. Has given 
me a complimentary ticket to the lec- 
ture. 0, David! 

. . . The critics come down on me, 
i.e., the critics from the gutter press. 
They even wanted to reproduce my 
Smithy and wanted your portrait, but 
Shkolniksaidno.+ 

If you knew just how entertaining 
these critics are! Burliuk laughs and 
says, "They come down on me, too. I'm 
happy that our names are next to each 
another." 

... So far my pictures are not sell- 
ing, but I'm having a great success 



among artists. One artist from the 
World of Art group introduced himself 
to me at the exhibition^ and said it was 
a great pleasure to make my acquain- 
tance. [Female] students of Petrov- 
Vodkin 6 try to ingratiate themselves 
with me, and Madame Zvantseva" her- 
self spoke with me at the exhibition, 
saying she likes my paintings ... A lot 
of new acquaintances. Some of them 
are interesting, but I'm really 
immersed in my artistic milieu and 
artistic interests . . . I'm now reading 
about art in French, and am hanging 
out at the exhibition. My paintings 
occupy the very best place. Alas, David 
is soon going away! 

Letter to Anna Rozanova 
(December 9, 1913) 8 

. . . Alexei Kruchenykh and I have been 
coloring books together, books that are 
selling very well, so we'll earn a lot 
from them. 

I've been hanging out at the Stray 
Dog cabaret. There was an "Evening of 
Apache Dance" there recently. An 
unusual Saturday. I sat through the 
entire night, from i2:3o a.m. to 7:3o 
a.m. Thus I got there on the last street- 
car that night and left on the first one 
the next morning. Such are my labors 
and diversions! I'm going to the Stray 



3^5 



DocumenTS 



n a c x a y <i> y t y p n c t o b ^. 




[l A C \ A \ b II bl si n O S E A A H I (I 



nyp* JlTpT. 



figure 96. Ivan Otsup, Photograph captioned Easter 
with the Futurists. Group ofPetrograd Futurists in the 
Studio of 'the Artist N. 1 '. Kulbm, Petrograd, 1915. Showing 
(left to right) Nikolai Kulbm, Ivan Puni, Olga 
Rozanova, Vladimir Mayakovsky. Arthur Lourie. and 
Vasilii Kamensky. The portrait in front of Puni is 
Kufbin's of Georgii Yakulov. The photograph has been 
doctored, for the Puni head has been beheaded from 
another photograph, stuck on to the drape, and repho- 
tographed to give the impression of collegiality, even 
though the calisthenic Mayakovsky is about to punch 
the rubberhead Puni. 



Dog again today, although I'm not 
going to stay there all night this time. 

Letter to Alexei Kruchenykh 
(summer 1915)9 

. . . Right now, I can do either only 
exclusively realist or non-objective 
paintings, but nothing in between, 
since I don't think that there are any 
connecting links between these two 
arts, no rivalry, nothing in common. 



just as there is no link between the 
crafts of shoemaking and tailoring and 
so on. They are not even vaguely simi- 
lar. I have to confess that objectivity 
and non-objectivity (in painting) are 
not two different tendencies in one art, 
but two different arts. The screen is the 
only possible medium that can replace 
the material paints in non- objective 
painting! No connection whatsoever!!! 

Letter to Alexei Kruchenykh 
(December 1915)'° 

He [Puni] has taken down my 
Automobile and Devil's Panel [Bicyclist] . 
When these pieces were brought into 
the exhibition, my [paintings] proved 
to be more more original than 
Puni's. My relations with Oksana 
[Boguslavskaia] are strained to the 
limit." There is no tension between me 
and Ivan Albertovich [Puni], but 
Oksana is behaving like a stupid old 
bag and, except for Malevich, there's 
absolutely no one on Puni's side. In the 
catalogue, Puni went as far as to sign 
himself "manager." For reasons of tact, 
not even Zheverzheev has ever done 
such a thing, 12 but Oksana says that she 
has the right to administer everything, 
since the exhibition is financed with 
their capital and so on. All this is dis- 
gusting. Not worth writing about. 

Rostislavov' 3 is in ecstasy over my 
works and has told me that most likely 
not even I know my own true worth, 
etc. Now if he would only write that in 
Rech [Discourse] —vulgar man. Well. 
never mind! . . . 

I'll say more: all of Suprematism 



3 2 6 



OLca rozanova 



consists entirely of my collages, com- 
binations of surfaces, lines, discs (par- 
ticularly discs) . and totally -without a 
realistic subject. In spite of all that, 
that swine doesn't mention my name. 

. . . Malevich has a guilty look when 
he is with me. He has turned a bit 
humble. He offers his services politely. 
Quite unrecognizable. The first day. I 
deliberately turned my back on him. 
Did you show Malevich my collages, 
and when exactly? Unfortunately, I 
gave [him] only Suprematist reliefs 
(four) . but no painting. My narrative 
painting is infinitely more Suprematist 
than Puni's, however. 

I saw Zelmanova'4 at the opening. 
She was delighted, invited me over to 
her place, and I invited her to mine. I 
don't know what will come of that. I'll 
send you photographs and reviews, if 
there are any. I regret that you are not 
with me. Kisses to you. Write. Kulbin 
and Matiushin were not at the opening. 

. . . Malevich remembered that he 
hadn't yet sent you the package. I rep- 
rimanded him for that. 

Letter to Alexei Kruchenykh 
(December 1915) 

. . . On the wall at the exhibition, they 
[the Suprematists] have titled their 
paintings, "Suprematist." but not in 
the catalogue. '5 However, I didn't [title 
mine that way] , since in his review that 
fool Rostislavov did not include me as a 
member of the group. In general, he 
gave a very good review of both the 
exhibition and of me in particular. 
Unfortunately. I have only one copy of 




figure 9-. Alexei Kruchenykh. Heavy Weapon. 
illustration for his Vselenskaia voina (Petrograd. 1916). 
Paper collage. 22.9x30.4 cm. Courtesy of Galerie 
Gmurzynska, Cologne 



the newspaper and don't know how to 
send it to you. . . . There were other 
stupid and totally hostile reviews in 
Petrogradskaia gazeta [Petrograd 
Gazette] , Listok [Sheet] . Birzhevj-e vedo- 
mosti [Stock-Exchange News], and Den 
[Day], but I haven't read them yet. 
Attendance at the exhibition is 
poor. Just over two hundred attended 
the opening, the worst one I've ever 
had to endure. So as to satisfy your 
curiosity, here are my copies of 
Malevich's pictures, Ladrin an 
Automobile [her sketch of the composi- 
tion follows] and Boat Ride [her sketch 
of the composition follows]. I did not 
buy any postcards for reasons of thrift. 
I don't have much money . . . 

Letter to Alexei Kruchenykh (1916) 

I've sent a registered [letter] to 
Shemshurin with the drawings for the 
poetry that you asked for. 16 1 made the 
drawings in colored ink. How do you 
like them? You've probably already 
received them, haven't you? As I already 



327 



Documenxs 




figure 98. Olga Rozanova, Untitled, 1917—18. Gouache 
and india ink on paper, 10.8x9.8 cm. Sheet no. 68 in 
Alexei Kruchenykh's scrapbook, A Kruchenrkh. 
igoo—i<)3o. 



wrote, I'm crazy about these verses and 
the idea of letters of the alphabet float- 
ing free in these transrational poems. I 
simply burst with pleasure when I read 
and contemplated them. 

Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism 
(i 9 i 7 )>7 

. . . We propose liberating painting 
from its subservience to the ready- 
made form of reality and to make it 
first and foremost a creative, not a 
reproductive, art. 

The savage happily drawing the 
outlines of a bull or a deer on a piece of 
stone, the primitive, the academician, 
the artists of antiquity and of the 
Renaissance, the Impressionists, the 
Cubists, and even to some degree the 
Futurists are all united by the same 
thing: the object. These artists are 



intrigued, delighted, amazed, and 
gladdened by nature. They try to 
fathom her essence, they aspire to 
immortalize her. . . . 

Cubism killed the love of the 
everyday appearance of the object, but 
not the love of the object as a whole. 
Nature continued to be the guide of 
aesthetic ideas. The works of the 
Cubists lack a clearly defined idea of 
nonobjective art. 

Their art is characterized by efforts 
to complicate the task of depicting 
reality. Their complaint against the 
established prescriptions for copying 
nature turned into a formidable bomb 
that smashed the decayed metaphysics 
of figurative art into smithereens — an 
art that had lost all idea of aim and 
technique. . . . 

In its force and its clarity of per- 
ception, Futurism provided art with a 
unique expression — the fusion of two 
worlds, the subjective and the objec- 
tive. Maybe this event is destined never 
to be repeated. 

But the ideological gnosticism of 
Futurism had no effect on the damned 
consciousness of the majority who, to 
this day, continue to reiterate that 
Futurism marks a radical break in the 
course of world art, a crisis of art . . . 

Our time is one of metal, its soul 
is initiative and technology: the 
Futurists brought technology to its 
full potential. . . . 

Until the Futurists came along, 
artists used to express movement in 
the following conventional manner: 
a maximum expression of movement 



3 2 8 



OLGa rozanova 



resulted from placing forms on the 
surface of the canvas parallel to the 
perimeter of the canvas, and a maxi- 
mum static expression resulted from 
placing the forms parallel to the sur- 
face of the canvas. 

The spectator did not sense move- 
ment in the picture. All he [or she] saw 
was a rendering of movement. . . . 

For the Suprematists, the painting 
has ceased, once and for all, to be a 
function of the frame. 

We do not regard the forms that we 
use [in painting] as real objects. We do 
not force them to depend on the up and 
down directions in the painting. . . . We 
consider their painterly content. 
Consequently, the emphasis on sym- 
metry or asymmetry, on static or 
dynamic elements, is the result of cre- 
ative thinking and not of the precon- 
ceived notions of common logic. The 
aesthetic value of the non-objective 
painting lies entirely in its painterly 
content. 

We perceive the color of an object 
as its hue made visible by the refrac- 
tion of light (the rainbow, the spec- 
trum). But we can also conceive of 
color independently of our conception 
of the object, and beyond the colors of 
the spectrum. 

We can see green, blue, and white 
mentally. . . . 

The unreality of the Cubo- 
Futurists was a product of their self- 
destructive desire to convey the total 
reality of the obj ect via the prism of 
pure subjectivity. This was so remark- 
able that "non-existence," created by 



the artist's will, acquired the value of a 
new reality, of a kind of abstract 
absolute that killed any interest in what 
was actually being observed. . . . 

Suprematism rejects the use of real 
forms for painterly ends. Like leaky 
vessels, they cannot hold color. Stifled 
by the chance simplicity or complexity 
of these forms, which may not always 
correspond to their respective color 
content, color just creeps about, faded 
and dim. . . . We create quality of form 
in connection with quality of color, and 
not each separately. 

We have chosen the plane as the 
transmitter of color, since its reflective 
surface will transmit color the most 
effectively and with the least mutabil- 
ity. As a result, reliefs, appliques, tex- 
tures that imitate material reality, and 
sculptural effects (for example, a 
brushstroke creates shadow), which 
were used in figurative painting (right 
up to, and including, Futurism), can- 
not be applied to two-dimensional 
painting on a plane: such factors 
influence and change the essence of 
color. . . . 

Just as a change in the atmosphere 
can create a strong or weak air current 
in nature, one that can overturn and 
destroy things, so dynamism in the 
world of colors is created by the proper- 
ties of their values, by their weight or 
lightness, by their intensity or duration. 
This dynamism is, essentially, very real. 
It commands attention. It engenders 
style and justifies construction. 

Dynamism liberates painting from 
the arbitrary laws of taste and estab- 



3a 9 



DocumenTS 



lishes the law of pragmatic inevitabil- 
ity. It also liberates painting from util- 
itarian considerations. . . . 

The works of pure painting have 
the right to exist independently and 
not in relation to banal interior fur- 
nishings. To many, our efforts and 
endeavors — as well as those of our 
Cubist and Futurist predecessors — 
to put painting on a course of self- 
determination may seem ridiculous, 
and this is because they are difficult to 
understand and do not come with 
glowing recommendations. Never- 
theless, we do believe that a time will 
come when, for many people, our art 
will become an aesthetic necessity — an 
art justified by its selfless aspiration to 
reveal a new beauty. 



Translation of figure 95 : " [It was the worst 
opening] I've ever had to endure. In order 
to satisfy your curiosity, here are my copies 
of some of Malevich's pictures: Lady in an 
Automobile [first drawing]. Boat Ride [sec- 
ond drawing] . I didn't buy any postcards. I 
didn't want to waste my money and I don't 
have that much. The pictures are painted in 
various colors, not black and white. The 
most disgusting aspect of the entire exhibi- 
tion and of the artists themselves is that 
everything is being done on the sly. While it 
used to be that you just looked after your- 
self, now what you do is to harm someone 
else, no matter what. For example, Puni and 
his wife promised to make frames for me 
and then failed to do so on purpose, so that 
the paintings would look slipshod. They 
distorted the catalogue and a myriad other 
things, so that even Malevich thought it was 
disgusting. I never imagined that Oksana 
[Boguslavskaia] could be such a horrible 



creature. Malevich is like their lackey. How 
long the organization will last depends on 
how long he remains satisfied with his 'cor- 
ner,' since besides him good. . . ." 

1 . The following documents (except the last) 
are excerpts from letters that Olga Rozanova 
wrote between 1912 and 1916. They are pre- 
served in the Archive of the Khardzhiev - 
Chaga Cultural Foundation, Amsterdam 
(in Box 78). 

2. Letter to Anna Rozanova, the artist's sister, 
transcribed by Nikolai Khardzhiev. 

3 . The reference is to poet and painter David 
Davidovich Burliuk (1862-1967), the 
"father of Russian Futurism." 

4. IosifSolomonovichShkolnik (1883-1926), 
a painter, was secretary of the Union of 
Youth. In spite of Shkolnik's objections, 
Rozanova's portrait of Anna was reproduced 
in the journal Ogonek (St. Petersburg), no. 1 
(1913), p. 20. Rozanova's oil painting, 
Smithy (1912), is in the collection of the 
State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg. 

5. The reference is to the Union of Youth exhi- 
bition in St. Petersburg, December 
1912— January 1913. 

6. Kuzma Sergeevich Petrov- Vodkin 
(1878-1939), a painter 

7. Elizaveta Nikolaevna Zvantseva 
(1864-1922), a painter, directed an art 
school in St. Petersburg. Rozanova was a 
student there in 1911. 

8. Letter to Anna Rozanova (1886-1969), 
transcribed by Nikolai Khardzhiev. 

9 . Letter to Alexei Eliseevich Kruchenykh 
(1886-1969), Rozanova's companion. 

10. In this letter, Rozanova is describing the 
o.w exhibition at Nadezhda Dobychina's 
Art Bureau in Petrograd, December 1915 
through January 1916. to which she con- 
tributed the works mentioned here. 

11. Ivan Albertovich Puni (Jean Pougny, 
1894-1956) and his wife Ksenia 
Leonidovna Boguslavskaia (1892-1972) 
were the organizers of the o. 1 o exhibition. 



33o 



oixa rozanova 



12. Levldi Ivanovich Zheverzheev (1891-1942). 
a collector and businessman, was a sponsor 
of the Union of Youth, specifically of the two 
theatrical productions that it produced in 
December 1913. Victory over the Sun and 
Vladimir Maiakovsky. 

i3. Alexander Alexandrovich Rostislavov 
(1860—1920). an art critic. 

14. Anna MikhailovnaZelmanova- 
Chudovskaia (ca. 1890—1948) was a mem- 
ber of the Union of Youth. 

15. Rozanova is referring to the 0.10 exhibition. 

16. Andrei Akimovich Shemshurin 
(1872—1939). a literary critic. Rozanova is 
probably referring to the Suprematist book 
illustrations that she was making at this 
time for Zaumnaia gniga [Transrational 
Gook]. See Terekhina et al.. Olga Rozanova 
7S86-i 9 7S.pp.3--38. 

17. These extracts are from Rozanova's text 
"Kubizm. futurizm. suprematizm." which 
she wTote for the journal Supremus in 1917 
(not published); translated from the 
Russian by John E. Bowlt. The entire text 
was published in English and German in 
Vonder Malerei zum Design/From Painting to 
Design, exh. cat. (Cologne: Galerie 
Gmurzynska. 1981), pp. 100— n3. 



33i 



tt a^^jaiW (tap- 

$^«mjtm. %|urto4 efi&ftuuea. 



figure 99. Handwritten statement by Stepanova, The New Consciousness. Undated, 
private collection. (Translation on page 340.) 



varvara 
STepanova 



On Non-Objective Creativity 
(in Painting) (1919) 

In the logical course of its development, 
painting reached non-objectivity. Not 
so long ago the defenders of "studio 
art" — i.e., painting of a particular size, 
painting in a narrow, professional 
sense, but a kind of painting bereft of 
meaning or any spiritual aspiration — 
rejected the slogan "painting as an end 
in itself." This is a painting of synthe- 
sis, a monumental kind of painting that 
is just as indispensable as a road sign. 
However, painting moves not by syn- 
thesis, but by analysis and innovation 
— which is always excessive, but which 
always stimulates further movement. 

Non-objective creativity is a move- 
ment of the spirit, a protest against the 
narrow materialism and naturalism 
that had begun to control life. 

Non-objective creativity is a new 
world view in all spheres of life and art. 
and painters were the first to appreci- 
ate it. We should note that recently 
painting has begun to occupy a really 
major place in the global movement, 
overtaking all other arts in its develop- 
ment and achievement. 

Without knowing one another, 
painters in different corners of the 
world have begun to appreciate non- 
objective art and. perhaps intuitively. 



to begin waging "war on the object." 
This has been particularly characteris- 
tic for Russia, where most of our smart 
young painters came to negate the 
object in painting. Russia has become 
the home of non-objectivity, and this 
is understandable, since Russia had 
long been a country of the spirit. 

In Russia the epoch of transition to 
"non-objectivity" produced good 
painters who derived much from mate- 
rial life. However, they took not the 
essence of the object, but its surface, 
its texture, its relationship to another 
object, all of which diverted them from 
the object as such. How very different 
from French art. Take Cubism. The 
French artist will take an object, break 
it up. extrapolate, will think it through 
and through, and then, on the well- 
defined surface of the studio painting, 
present you with the object or a paint- 
ing in which the object in the painting 
realizes its highest potential. 

The French artist learned to paint 
by studying the object, while the 
majority of Russian painters of the 
transitional period learned not 
through the object itself but through 
French paintings of the object. The 
Russian Cubists offered an elaboration 
of space, but not of the object; they 
understood the idea of "breaking up 



333 



DOCumenTs 



the object" in an abstract sense and 
passed from the object of the painting 
to painting [itself] . 

Color was of great importance to 
the painting of "Russian Cubism," but 
the color of paint also led it away from 
Cubism. [Artists] began to investigate 
the sphere of color and removed the 
object. The shift among Russian artists 
toward non- objectivity came roughly 
in 1913, although "studio painting" was 
also promoted at the same time, which, 
as I mentioned above, completed the 
moment of transition and took the 
preceding accomplishments to their 
limit. 

At first, each individual artist 
understood non-objective creativity 
differently. Some explored color, 
others texture or composition. But as 
non- objective creativity and the con- 
sciousness of it deepened, a particular 
group [of artists] came to the fore, 
demonstrating a method or system that 
was able to accommodate non-objec- 
tive painting. The first method was 
Suprematism as interpreted in two 
ways — either as a new formal accom- 
plishment (the square) or as an inten- 
sification of painting through color, 
destined to play the role of a "new 
Renaissance of painting." The square, 
of course, was not a discovery, but 
merely the logical extension of the 
cube; color began to play a role here, 
however, when it commandeered the 
square so as to make a more effective 
representation. Consequently, color 
provided the stimulus to the liberation 
of painting from the object, while 



the square provided the synthesis. 

The Suprematists extolled the 
square plane of color, which they began 
to elaborate and build into the picture 
in a monumental fashion. But the 
canons of Suprematism did not allow a 
further shift, since color — formerly 
the living force of Suprematism — now 
became just a component auxiliary 
to the square, the latter assuming 
preeminence. 

Where did this lead? Suprematist 
compositions, executed not on canvas 
but in embroidery, where color is 
purer than in paint on canvas. Made 
from surfaces colored with the finest 
methods, they soon rivaled the painted 
picture, and quite successfully. 2 It is 
now clear that in its pure form 
Suprematism is decorative and, as a 
new style, was meant to be applied — a 
forceful and astonishing one. Perhaps 
Suprematism needed to find a better 
technique than the application of paint 
to a canvas in order to carry the 
Suprematist method to its logical con- 
clusion. In Suprematist painting, the 
colored form is incomplete, and 
demands that the paint from the tube 
be at least three times more intense, so 
that when applied to a composition the 
color will lose no more than one-fifth 
of its properties. 

Meanwhile, two individuals in par- 
ticular came forward from the ranks of 
a second group of painters, who at one 
time had supported the Suprematist 
method in their non- objective creativ- 
ity, finally breaking with the method of 
Suprematism: they had either removed 



334 



varvara STepanova 



color at the expense of composition 
(Udaltsova) or, on the contrary, had 
intensified it to the point of decora - 
tiveness and dissonance (Rozanova). 
Such was the attempt to accommodate 
non-objective creativity within the 
system of Suprematism. At the same 
time, nonobjective creativity also 
developed outside the methods of 
Suprematism, but here individual 
artists set out on their own, making no 
attempt to contain their inventions 
within a particular system (Rodchenko, 
Kandinsky) or to assign an " - ism" to 
their achievements. All in all, non- 
objective creativity in painting is still 
at its initial stage of development, and 
it is difficult to find an "-ism" that 
could characterize it fully. But one 
thing has become very clear in non- 
objective painting: the ways in which it 
is being rendered are certainly not 
monotonous, and nearly all the non- 
objective artists are powerful and vivid 
individuals. Each of them may well 
create his own school. The non-objec- 
tive artists are advancing toward new 
inventions, toward analysis in the work 
of painting, toward the painting of 
color (color-painting), toward acuity of 
composition, and toward the making of 
monochrome painting (Drevin). . . . ' 

Diary (1919)' 

January^ 

. . . 0.10. 5 Malevich discovers 
Suprematism, but doesn't say anything 
until the exhibition. Wishing to ruin 
the exhibition, he managed to have it 
called "The last Futurist exhibition." 




figure 100. Works by Stepanova (on right) and 
Alexander Rodchenko (on left) at the Nineteenth State 
Exhibition, Moscow, 1920. 

Ivan Puni and "Punka" (Boguslavskaia) 
are helping him. 1 ' Draconian measures 
are being taken to prevent Tatlin from 
exhibiting his reliefs alongside their 
works. The Moscow group (Udaltsova, 
Popova, Exter) threatens to "back out" 
unless the Petrograd group changes 
these conditions. The Petrograd group 
agrees, so Tatlin delivers his reliefs . . . 
With Malevich, the atmosphere thick- 
ens. You feel that he has discovered 
something, but he says nothing. Every 
effort is being made to find out what 
he's going to call his works . . . 

A gathering at Exter's (chic hotel 
room, knickknacks, she herself is 
eccentric — constantly smoking, fruit, 
pastries): Udaltsova, Popova. 
Malevich, Kliun, twelve midnight, but 
failed to find out anything . . . Kliun 
squeaks on about something and 
Malevich says nothing. Udaltsova is 
pale. Exter's face has broken out, 
Popova's all in stripes. . . . Malevich 
declares. "I have discovered 
Suprematism," and he proceeds to 



33 5 



DOCumenTS 



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figure 101. Anonymous designer. Poster advertising 
vernissage (December 19. 1915) and opening 
(December20. 1915) oi the Last Futurist Exhibition of 
Paintings, o.w (Zero-Ten) at Nadezhda Dobychina's Art 
Bureau, Petrograd. Courtesy of Puni-Archiv. Zurich. 



explain . . . Exter refuses to participate 
in 0.70, since her works are almost 
non-objective [anyway] and she does- 
n't want to be in the Malevich group. 

Organizing 0.70: Tatlinis nervous, 
curses at "Punka," hangs the works of 
the Moscow group, and then brings in 
his reliefs at four in the afternoon. The 
exhibition opens at five. He curses at 
"Punka" to keep her from peeking to 
see what he's carrying in. Finally, the 
room is partitioned off with screens, 
but when Tatlin walks by, "Punka" 
yelps. The Suprematists want to scatter 
Suprematism throughout the exhibi- 
tion and at all costs to hang at least part 
[of their works] in the "Muscovite" 



room. That's why they hide their 
works, at first those of Pestel, then of 
Vasilieva M., 7 but to no avail, since the 
Muscovites wouldn't give up their 
room. Five o'clock: the opening. Tatlin 
failed to hang his reliefs in time and is 
now up on a ladder hanging them right 
in front of the public. The public 
responds with attention and interest. 

"Punka" catches reporters at the 
entrance. The result is evident in the 
newspapers: Malevich- Puni, 
Malevich- Puni . . . 

Dinner in the Vienna Restaurant. 
Malevich and Tatlin quarrel, the 
latter declaring, "This peasant 
[Malevich] has insulted me." and 
demands that their works (his, 
Udaltsova's, Popova's) be removed 
from the exhibition. But Udaltsova and 
Popova do not give their consent, so 
Tatlin fumes and threatens to remove 
his own works himself. But he doesn't. 

By now Tatlin's policy is clear — he 
wants to ruin o.io, and since the 
Muscovites have a big room, the exhi - 
bition would collapse if they were to 
remove their works. 

Through this exhibition, Malevich 
ruined the Futurists and Cubists with 
his Suprematism and by calling the 
exhibition "the last one." o.io pertains 
to Suprematism in that it derives from 
Malevich's own words, "I've reached 
the o of form." 

A debate rages: on one side, Tatlin, 
Udaltsova, and Popova-, on the other, 
Kliun, Malevich, and Puni ... In order 
to avenge Malevich, Popova hangs a 
poster in her room reading "Room of 



336 



varvara STepanova 



Professional Painters"-. Udaltsova lends 
a hand. Again a scandal breaks out. 

Throughout all these ups and 
downs. Rozanova landed in the middle, 
neither on Malevich's side nor on 
Tatlin's. She did get a sinking feeling. 
as she said herself, when she began 
to realize that Malevich had discovered 
something: but she soon sensed what 
it was all about and hastily painted 
several Suprematist works for the 
exhibition. 

Rodchenko turns up (he hasn"t met 
Tatlinyet). . . . 

Malevich appears at The Store'' . . . 
o.io is written on his forehead, and on 
his back is a sheet of paper with the 
declaration "I am an apostle" (of what 
was not recorded). 

Tatlin throws Malevich out of the 
exhibition, because of the announce- 
ment [of it being "the last one"] that he 
has been putting up everywhere, and 
because of his promotion of 
Suprematism . . . Malevich and Kliun 
take down their works. 

Malevich flirts with Rodchenko. 
About Rodchenko's graphic works.' 
Malevich says. "You yourself still don't 
know what you're doing" . . . and draws 
him over to his side. . . . He invites 
Rodchenko home to talk about 
Suprematism, and shows him some of 
the works with small forms. Kliun 
invites Rodchenko to participate in the 
Jack of Diamonds. Rodchenko uses this 
to get a better handle on Tatlin. who 
had been warning Rodchenko about 
Malevich. Tatlin positively panicked 
when he learned that Rodchenko was 




figure 102. Varvara Stepanova. Rozanova Dancing. 
1918—19. collage and india ink on cardboard. 
15.5 x 11 cm. Made by Stepanova for Alexei 
Kruchenvkh's plav dr-dy. Private collection. 



being invited to join the Jack of 
Diamonds. Malevich did not present 
any Suprematist works at The Store — 
thanks to Udaltsova. as it turned out, 
who insisted that Malevich not exhibit 
Suprematism there. . . . 

January 1 1 

It ah began delightfully. 

Drevin talked about Olga 
Rozanova s exhibition. ... 

Opening today . . . Drevin and I. 
along with Strzeminski (head of the 
Exhibition Bureau)'' set off for the 
exhibition . . . Here we are. Kliun and 
the boys are hanging up an enormous 
black square on a white canvas beneath 
a sign . . . Drevin and I become 



337 



DocumenTS 



extremely indignant. We shout at the 
guys not to put it up, but Kliun shouts 
"Put it up!" At first the guys were con- 
fused, but soon resumed working. . . . 

We come down on Kliun for 
putting Malevich's square under 
Rozanova['s name] . . . Kliun blames 
Malevich for everything, says that he 
(Kliun) has nothing to do with [the 
exhibition] , and that he is doing all this 
based on a sketch by Malevich. 

We go in to the exhibition. Attack 
Strzeminski and demand to know how 
he could have allowed Malevich to put 
this logo onto Rozanova['s sign] . We 
look at the exhibition. The exhibition 
shines, simply sings with color. 

The square has been raised and is 
about to be nailed up, but it fits per- 
fectly into the window of the "non- 
objective" room. I get mad. Drevin and 
I attack Strzeminski. and he demands 
that the square be removed . . . Kliun 
runs to remove the square . . . He 
moves Rozanova's playing-card paint- 
ings and several other works . . . Kliun 
stammers that there are still a few 
other decorations for the exhibition 
which he, Kliun, had been painting all 
night . . . 

We take a look ... 0, what a 
delight! Malevich has brought in three 
more enormous canvases with square 
black forms of colossal dimensions . . . 
Bad language . . . We protest that such 
things should not be displayed at a 
Rozanova exhibition, since she had 
been on the way to smashing the 
square . . . We demand that all these 
"decorations" be left behind for 



Malevich ... It becomes apparent that 
these "decorations" might have cov- 
ered the entire facade . . . 

We managed to prevent the exhibi- 
tion of "ornaments" . . . Kliun whines 
that he won't be paid for his work and 
shows how his fingers had swollen 
from the cold as he painted them. 

All worked up [over this dispute] , 
we set off to see Gan. 

Most disgraceful is that Malevich 
showed no one that he was making 
such squares for Olga Rozanova. What 
is there in common between 
Malevich's square and Rozanova? 

Rozanova has what Malevich 
aspired to, and he used her, as a 
painter, for his philosophizing. Color 
in its essence is paint, it is decoration, 
and that's why, during the heyday of 
Suprematism, the enthusiasm was for 
applied art, and there were numerous 
exhibitions of decorative art. Thus at 
one such exhibition Anti' = said of 
Malevich's works that here was the real 
sphere of Suprematism, its alpha and 
omega, not a Suprematism of the form 
of the square, but a Suprematism of 
color. Malevich confuses color and the 
philosophy of the square in Suprem- 
atism and now, therefore, wants to pin 
Rozanova to a Suprematism of the 
square. Drevin, too, understood 
Suprematism in this way. According to 
Drevin, Suprematism is like a textile, 
and Malevich had created not painting 
but merely a new style. Malevich pro- 
vided a graphic scheme or form of the 
square which, without Malevich's 
essays and mysticism, has no signifi- 



338 



varvara sTepanova 



cance. Furthermore, if Malevich 
declares that he alone discovered the 
square, then that is nonsense. Drevin 
painted with square forms without ever 
seeing Malevich's works or even know- 
ing of Malevich's existence. Then in 
1915, when Malevich promulgated the 
square, both Kliun and Rozanova con- 
tributed to the same exhibition. In 
remote Kazan, Rodchenko, too, with- 
out knowing anything about 
Suprematism, the square, or knowing 
of Malevich's existence, created 
graphic works with square forms. 
Malevich's trick lies only in his pro- 
mulgation of the name. Who thought of 
it and how, I do not know. 

The square . . . hung logically in the 
air and derived from the cube . . . 




figure io3. Varvara Stepanova. cover for the catalogue 
of \h.e$%5 = 25 exhibition, 1921. Gouache on paper. 
17.7 x 14 cm. Private collection. 



February ij 

On the exhibition of the Young Leftist 
Federation of the Professional Union 
of Artists and Painters. Udaltsova: a 
great female Cubist artist in Russia and 
good-looking, too, like a piece of 
chintz. She breaks up the object along 
vertical lines (hence a certain monot- 
ony). Of course, Udaltsova is quite 
smart and won't let on. [Her work] is 
displayed wonderfully. She wins 
laurels and wants to play a dirty trick 
on Malevich, since in Cubism he's just 
a zero ["=o"]. Rodchenko exhibits old 
works. Kandinsky likes his earliest 
works, where everything is done 
to a "t" to the extreme. Gabo says of 
him: "He has everything in order to 
paint, but he still hasn't begun" . . . 
Pevsner, delighted, says: "This guy 



will showyou, he'll go a long away. 
Look! There's not [even] Suprematism 
here. That's amazing!'" 

Kliun likes Anti's texture in tem- 
pera. Yes, he really knows what tex- 
ture 'sail about. 

Kandinsky says that Anti is the 
only artist whom he likes. 

P. Kuznetsov also likes Anti.'* He 
walks around all the time expressing 
amazement: "And that's Rodchenko . . . 
Yes, yes ..." 

Rozanova has a certain dryness. 
This trait is characteristic of many 
Russian artists (Shevchenko. 
Le-Dantiu).' r> 

The works of Pevzner and Drevin 
obviously made an impression on 
Udaltsova through their primitive 
simplicity. 



33 9 



DocumenTS 



Artist's Statement in the Catalogue of 
the Exhibition 5x5 = 35 (1921) ' 

In the artist's creativity, composition is 
a contemplative approach. 

Technology and industry have con- 
fronted art with the problem of CON- 
STRUCTION as a dynamic action and 
as contemplative visuality. 

The "sacred" value of the work [of 
art] as something singular and unique 
has been eliminated. 

As the depository of this "unicum" 
the museum turns into an archive. 

Translation of figure 99: "The New 
Consciousness: Technology and industry. 
Active action vs. contemplation. Production 
and making things. Temporal, not eternal. 
Organization and construction. Movement 
vs. statics. Material conception. Integration 
of the spiritual and material aspects. 
Creation of a new form. Coming into a 
three-dimensional perception." 

1. Varvara Stepanova, "0 bespredmetnom 
tvorchestve": translated from the Russian 
by I. Frank Goodwin. The text is from a 
manuscript in a private collection, Moscow. 
Stepanova published a similar essay, 
"Bespredmetnoe tvorchestvo" [Non- 
Objective Creativity], under the pseudonym 
"V. Agrarykh" in the catalogue of the Tenth 
State Exhibition: Non-Objective Creativity and 
Suprematism, Moscow, 1919. Another trans- 
lation of this text is in LavTentiev and Bowlt. 
Stepanova. p. 170. For other statements by 
Stepanova in English translation see ibid., 
pp. 171-83. 

2. Anumber of the Suprematists, particularly 
Ksenia Boguslavkaia. Kazimir Malevich, 
and Ivan Puni. applied their Suprematist 
motifs to embroideries for purses, scarves, 
belts, etc., contributing their designs to 
exhibitions such as the Exhibition of 



Industrial Art at the Lemercier Gallery, 
Moscow, 1915, and the Exhibition of 
Contemporary- Decorative Art at the 
Mikhailova Salon. Moscow, 1916—1917. 

3. Alexander Davidovich Drevin (1889-1938), 
Udaltsova's husband, painted several mono- 
chrome paintings in 1921, each of which he 
titled Suprematism or Painterly- Composition. 
For reproductions of two of these works, see 
The Great Utopia, cat. nos. 255. 256. 

4. These are excerpts from the diary that 
Stepanova kept intermittently between 1919 
and 1921 and then in 1927—28, and from the 
notes that she made during the 1930s and 
194,0s; translated from the Russian by J. 
Frank Goodwin. However, the most inter- 
esting entries are the early ones, which doc- 
ument events crucial to the history of the 
Russian avant-garde: here we read of the 
various responses to Malevich's Suprema- 
tism. to Olga Rozanova's posthumous exhi- 
bition, and the preparations for the 
Nineteenth State Exhibition, which was the 
first time that Stepanova showed her paint- 
ings publicly. Extracts from the diaries have 
been published in various Russian and 
German sources, including Alexander 
Lavrentiev and Varvara Rodchenko. eds., 
Varvara Stepanova: Chelovek ne mozhetzhit 
bezchuda, Moscow: Sfera, 1994, pp. 202-58 
and the catalogues for the exhibitions Sieben 
Moskauer Kunstler/Seven Moscow Artists at the 
Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne, 1984, pp. 
251-60; and Rodschenko-Stepanova at the 
Osterreichische Museum fur angewandte 
Kunst, Vienna, 1991, pp. 136-41. 

5. 0.10: The Last Futurist Exhibition was pre- 
sented at Nadezhda Dobychina's Art Bureau 
in Petrograd from December 1915 through 
fanuary 1916. 

6. According to the catalogue of 0.10. Ivan 
Albertovich Puni (lean Pougny, 1894-1956) 
and Ksenia Leonidovna Boguslavskaia 
("Punka," 1892—1972) were the organizers 
of the exhibition. Boguslavskaia, in fact, 
financed the enterprise. 



340 



varvara STepanova 



7. Vera Efremova Pestel (1883-1952) and Figures. Figure. Seated Figure, andfigure 
Mariia Ivano\Tia Vasilieva (Marie Vassilieff. (plate 73). 

1884.-1957) contributed four and eight 
Cubist works, respectively, to o. to. 

8. Tatlin's exhibition The Store opened in 
Moscow in 1916. Tatlin showed reliefs, but 
Malevich was represented only by pre- 
Suprematist paintings. 

9. Rodchenko's contribution included six 
non-objective ruler-and-compass 
compositions. 

10. A reference to Rozanovas posthumous 
exhibition in 1918 in Moscow, i.e.. the first 
State Exhibition. 

11. Avant-garde Polish artist Wladyslaw 
Strzeminsku (1893-1952) was living in 
Russia at this time. 

12. Ami was the pseudonym of Alexander 
Mikhailovich Rodchenko (1890—1956). 
Stepanova's husband. 

i3. The brothers Naum Gabo (pseudonym of 
Naum Neemiia Pevzner. 1890—1977) and 
Antoine Pevsner (pseudonym of Noton 
Pevzner. 1886—1962) were responsible for 
the Realisticheskii manifest (Realist 
manifesto) . which they published in Moscow 
in 1920. 

14. Pavel Varfomoleevich Kuznetsov 
(1878-1968) had been leader of the 
Symbolist Blue Rose group in the early 
1900s. By this time, he was painting mainly 
Kirghizian scenes. 

15. Alexander Vasilievich Shevehenko 
(1882-1948) and Mikhail Vasilievich Le- 
Dantiu (1891-1917) had been close to 
Larionov before the Revolution, investigat- 
ing Neo-Primitivism. Cubism, and 
Rayonism. 

16. Varst (i.e.. Varvara Stepanova). untitled 
statement in the catalogue (unpaginated) of 
the exhibitionj jj = 25. held at the All - 
Russian Writers Club. Moscow, in 
September 1921: translated from the 
Russian by John E. Bowlt. 

Stepanova contributed five works to the 
exhibition: Figure (Peasant) (plate 72). Two 



341 



v v 








■X. 




ILWA ttGg 




SlVctL/ 




t { 



V 



/' 




■h Pc 



"(Lett 



UJfy /(U&O ■p^uQtJ s , 7 










• 



figure 104. Handwritten letter from Udaltsova to Alexander Rodchenko. 1919. 
Private collection. (Translation on page 347.) 



naDezHDa 
UDaursova 



Extract from Diary (1914) 1 
Febru a ry 17 

Picasso is a classic. He has a classical 
understanding of planes and space. 

My Recollections: My Life in .Art 
(early 19.30s) 

... In November 1912. 1 went to Paris 
with Liuhov Popova. Sofia Karetnikova 
and Vera Pestel also traveled with 
us. although they soon returned to 
Moscow. After looking around. Popova 
and I began to search for a studio. 

Our intention had been to work 
with Matisse, but his school was 
already closed, so we went over to 
Maurice Denis's studio. But there we 
ran into a Red Indian with feathers sit- 
ting against a red background and we 
ran away. Someone then told us about 
La Palette, the studio of Le Fauconnier. 
We went there and immediatelv 
decided that it was what we wanted. 

. . . Le Fauconnier. Metzinger. and 
Segonzac used to visit the studio once a 
week. Le Fauconnier offered pictorial 
solutions for the canvas, while 
Metzinger spoke of Picasso's latest 
accomplishments. That was still the 
time of classical Cubism without all the 
vie banale [ordinary life] — which first 
appeared in the form of wallpaper and 
appliques in the works of Braque. 



Le Fauconnier was a ferocious expert, 
and many a student trembled before 
the canvas. Both Le Fauconnier and 
Metzinger responded positively to my 
works, and I was so happv when 
Metzinger told me two weeks later. 
"Vous avez fait le progres extraordi- 
naire" ['You have made extraordinary 
progress"] . How the students looked 
at me! 

. . . A year of life with only art. and 
[living] in isolation, turned me into a 
conscious artist and a real individual. 
For the first time I now sensed my own 
" I . " I n mv diary for that year. I wrote 
that Cubism was only a school for me. 
not a goal. I fully appreciated the extra- 
ordinary nature of Cubist achieve- 
ments in painting— and it was not the 
decorative aspect that attracted me. 
but rather the severity of its construc- 
tion and the severe laws of painting 
itself. . . Oddlv enough, after working 
through a season in Paris. I felt that I 
just had to leave, that I could work only 
in mv own countrv. I felt the need to 
hide away and not see anything else. 

Letter from Liubov Popova to 
Nadezhda Ldaltsova 
(Paris. March 3 1913) - 

Dear Nadezhda Andreevna. 

Thank you for the letter. There's a lot I 



3 + 3 



DocumenTS 




figure 105. Nadezhda Udaltsova, Study for a Restaurant 
Table. 1914. pencil on paper. Private collection. 

need to tell you and my head is simply 
reeling, but at least I can mention the 
important news. I saw the new Pieassos 
at Uhde's and Kahnweiler's (I sent you 
Violin and Portrait with a Violin, only I 
wasn't sure if I had sent you the right 
ones, since you did not indicate in your 
letter which of them you received). 
They are uncommonly good. I think 
that they are even more essential than 
the period of precise form that we all 
like so much (although that, too, of 
course, is amazing) . Man with a Guitar 
(I sent this to you) at Uhde's is a very 
large work. I've never seen anything 
with such a diversity of planes and 
formal balance. As for its colors, the 
marble is green and painted photo- 
graphically, while the rest consists of 
well-defined white, black, and an 
entire spectrum of grays. 



Letter from Nadezhda Udaltsova to 
Olga Rozanova (1917) 3 

Olga Vladimirovna, 

You asked me my opinion about French 

art and also expressed your own view 

that Russian artists are less aesthetic, 

that their textures are firmer, and 

their colors stronger. I agree with you 

completely. 

As for the French, you sense their 
so-called "culture of successive tradi- 
tion," as we say. That's true, but the 
same culture also contributes an ele- 
ment of disintegration (into subtlety, 
prettiness, and a technique that is 
skillful, but may only be superficial). 

Essentially. I just don't understand 
this constant reference to the great 
culture of successive tradition. Does 
the very definition of art not lie. in fact, 
within the concept of culture? Does 
there really exist an uncultured art? Art 
is a phenomenon of culture, whether 
young or old, it doesn't matter. "We try- 
to understand both the primitive art 
of a savage with a bare minimum of 
culture and the refined art of a Cubist 
from the standpoint of art. Art is 
possible only for those peoples who 
have the power to create and renew 
[their art] through a knowledge of 
other cultures. 

Even after receiving a fresh influx 
of forms from the art of other cultures 
(Japan. Impressionism, the East, 
Matisse, the African works of Picasso) , 
much of French art retains an awful 
proclivity to depersonalize the forms of 
other cultures and affix the stamp of 
sickliness upon them. ... 



344 



naDezHDa iiDai/rsova 



In my view it's time to oppose 
[French art] with a different art. an art 
based on the principle of pure paint- 
ing, painting as an end in itself, which 
will generate not profound changes in 
the human soul, but canvases in which 
the artist will demonstrate the clear 
and simple laws of pure color and pure 
form with inexorable clarity. 

If the Futurists have called for a 
healthy life and have been dreaming of 
cultivating a strong and healthy soul, 
then let us produce a strong and 
healthy art. There has been enough 
cultivated thought from the big city, 
enough gloomy iron from the factory 
and the train station. We have demon- 
strated that the steam engine and the 
automobile are just as wonderful as 
nature and man, but we do not wish to 
imitate these forms that already exist. 

To create something out of iron 
and wood for us is the same as painting 
a sunny landscape or a portrait of a girl. 

If artists wish to imitate forms that 
already exist, then let them do so. We 
say that art should be free and an end 
in itself. 

We shall create things in our work 
no less expediently than the artists of 
the other kind of creativity — those who 
work with technology. 

Extract from Diary: The o.io 
Exhibition (1915) 

December 6 

Tatlin has left. Doesn't write. 

December ly 

So we've had the inauguration of the 



exhibition and I think people approve 
of me, but I feel like leaving, going off 
again alone and working. I didn't 
expect such a success from this group 
of young people. 

December so 

I'm very glad no vanity lies within me, 
that yesterday's success remained out- 
side of me. and. I suppose, has only 
driven me to bring my own tasks into 
even higher and clearer relief — and 
that's why I'm pleased. Just my own 
tasks. 

December 37 

... I stopped by. Tatlin was waiting. He 
apologized, kissed my hands and a rec- 
onciliation took place. All the same, 
it's true, I do need to be more inde- 
pendent. 

Extract from Diary (1916) 

November^ 

I've suddenly become interested in 

decorative designs and in Malevich. 

December 8 

. . . Pure forms fly in pure, cold space. 
They are thrown into a headlong race, 
colliding, separating, or. through their 
inner dynamism, revealing the static 
development of color. Form-color. The 
composition of color relationships. 

Letter from Nadezhda Udaltsova to 
Kazimir Malevich (1917?) 

Kazimir Severinovich. 

[I've had] many new thoughts about our 

art recently and I see new possibilities. 



345 



Documents 




figure 106. Nadezhda Udaltsova. Untitled. 1916. 
Gouache on paper, 34.5 x 25 cm. Private collection. 

Just as nine years ago the first form 
appeared and created the great art of 
Cubism, so now the new painterly form 
has become a reality and is creating a 
new art. It is already establishing a new 
technique and a new understanding of 
color. It is revealing the characteristics 
of color. Our new art will be built on 
these new laws and we will tell about 
this new art simply and clearly in our 
paintings and our articles. 

Cezanne once said that everything 
is built with the geometric forms of 
volume .We can say that everything is 
built with geometric forms. We know 
the qualities of the colors of paints, 
their depth and intensity. We could 
compile a mathematical table of the 
relations between this and that color. 



The material we work with is paint, 
and it is only from paint that we will 
create a new world of reality. 

Nadezhda Udaltsova: Article for 
Supremus(i9i7) 

A) If the Cubists studied the forms of 
things and looked for their volume; if 
the Futurists, crazy about swift move- 
ment, aspired to convey this movement 
as reality-, if artists who are chained by 
love to their material made things of 
iron and wood or imitated them in 
painting and pasted together paper and 
cardboard, then artists of today have 
arrived at the fundamental basis of 
painting: color (color-painting). 

Color determines form. 

From within color reveals one of 
its distinctive characteristics: its 
depth, its weight. 

Henceforth, the artist will not 
strive to transform a given form of 
nature so as to create a wonderful aes- 
thetic work; rather, he will go to the 
foundation of the art of painting: color. 
He will produce new forms that have 
not yet appeared within nature, but 
that originate within the consciousness 
of the artist. This is not the study of the 
forms of nature in the light of this or 
that painterly idea. 

Nature may enter only as a stimu- 
lus to this or that correlation of colors 
and abstract forms. 

The world as a result of sensory 
perception is a falsehood. Art that is 
constructed on the basis of sensory 
perception confirms this falsehood. 
Abstract thought can penetrate 



346 



naoezHDa uDai/rsova 



beyond the limits of the sensory world. 

An abstract form of consciousness 
can also penetrate beyond those limits. 

"The forms of our consciousness 
evoked through the medium of expres- 
sion evolve continuously. In addition 
to the forms we know, new forms 
should arise." They arise within life; all 
the forms of technique are summoned 
to life by necessity. 

Art searches for them persistently. 

Cubism broke up the object and 
Futurism smashed it, while 
Suprematism generates a completely 
abstract form of viewer perception. 

The Suprematist form is con- 
firmed by the necessity of its pictorial 
existence on a given canvas. In this 
way, a concrete life is created, a life 
more affirmative than anything else, 
than all the living and dead forms of 
nature. These forms change in per- 
spective, according to light or the 
influence of the atmosphere and sur- 
rounding forms, and only the individ- 
ual desire of the artist will show them 
on the canvas in this or that aspect. . . . 

B) Art gives new forms to life; or, 
more precisely, as a more sensitive work 
of creativity, it designs new forms of life. 

Futurism, now obsolete in art, has 
entered life. 

After first discovering new forms 
of dynamism, the Futurists were struck 
by the beauty of a new form and strove 
to convey it in their canvases. We who 
have experienced the pleasure of pass- 
ing through these forms can look back 
calmly and now create a new art: we 
have a presentiment of a new form of 



life based not on tremor and excite- 
ment before the machine and technol- 
ogy, but on the calm application of 
these factors of life and on the free cre- 
ative work of the human soul liberated 
from the slavery of property. 

For us, for our spirit, airplanes are 
no different than the automobile or 
the cart, for they are already forms of 
the everyday. 

Unrestrained by the rapture of the 
moment, our spirit calmly subordi- 
nates all forms of human creation. We 
are not carried away with delight before 
a newly discovered form of technology, 
for our free spirit, in its own creative 
work, rises to infinity. 



Translation of figure 104.: Alexander 
Mikhailovich. 1 went to the Proletkult. 
What I found out is that the sketch has 
to be finished by today. Drop by. I'll be 
in Proletkult until three o'clock. 
N. Udaltsova. 

1. The following excerpts are from the manu- 
scripts in the Drevin-Udaltsova Archive in 
Moscow. "My Recollections: My Life in Art" 
and the 1915-16 diary entries are taken 
from Ekaterina Drevina and Vasilii Rakitin. 
Nadezhda Udaltsova: Zhizn russkoi kubistki. 
Dnevniki, stati, vospominaniia (Moscow: 
RA, 1994), pp. 9~i4, 28-4,2; translated 
from the Russian by J. Frank Goodwin. 

2. The manuscript of this letter is in the 
Drevin-Udaltsova Archive, Moscow. 

3. Udaltsova intended to publish this letter 
(and her letter to Malevich below) in 
Supremus. Copies of the letters are in a pri- 
vate collection in St. Petersburg and in the 
Archive of the Khardzhiev-Chaga Culhiral 
Foundation, Amsterdam (inv. no. KAZ-2). 



347 



list of piaTes 



The following list of plates, prepared as this book 
was going to press, contains information that, in 
some cases, differs from that found in the catalogue 
section. In the case of discrepancies, it is the infor- 
mation below that prevails, reflecting scholarly 
discoveries made in the course of preparations for 
this exhibition. 

Information about the provenance and exhibition 
history of the works has been supplied by the fol- 
lowing individuals: Liudmila Bobrovskaia 
(Alexandra Exter and Nadezhda Udaltsova) , Nina 
Gurianova and Faina Balakhovskaia (Olga 
Rozanova) , Alexander Lavrentiev and Tatiana 
Mikhienko (Varvara Stepanova), and Alia Lukanova 
(Natalia Goncharova and Liubov Popova) . 

Provenance. Gaps in chronology and ownership still 
persist. Much research has yet to be done on the 
issues of itinerary and ownership of works by the 
artists of the Russian avant-garde. 

Exhibitions. While many of the works listed below 
continue to be included in public exhibitions, only 
major venues of the 1910s and early 1920s have been 
listed here. The following abbreviations have been 
used: 

1911. Moscow,/ac/ro/ Diamonds -.Jack of Diamonds, 
Levisson Building, 11 Bolshaia Dmitrovka, Moscow, 
December 1910— January 1911 

1913. Moscow, Donkey's Tail: Donkey's Tail, Institute 
of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, Moscow, 
March-April 1912 

1912. Moscow, Union of Youth: Union of Youth, 
Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, 
Moscow. March— April 1912 

1912. St. Petersburg, Union ofYouth: Union ofYouth, 
73 Nevskii Prospect, St. Petersburg, 
January-February 1912 

1912-13. St Petersburg, Union ofYouth: Union of 
Youth, 73 Nevskii Prospect, St. Petersburg, 
December 1912-January 1913 

1913— 14. St. Petersburg, Union ofYouth-. Union of 
Youth, 73 Nevskii Prospect, St. Petersburg. 
November 1913- January 1914, 

1913. Moscow, Jack of Diamonds-, fack of Diamonds, 
Art Salon, 1 1 Bolshaia Dmitrovka. Moscow, 
February-March 1913 



1913. Moscow, Target-. Target, Art Salon, 11 Bolshaia 

Dmitrovka, Moscow, March— April 1913 

igi3. St. Petersburg, Jack of 'Diamonds -Jack of 
Diamonds, St. Petersburg, April 1913 

1913. Moscow, Goncharova-. Exhibition of Paintings by 
Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova, 1900—1913, Art Salon, 
11 Bolshaia Dmitrovka, Moscow. August— October 
1913 

1914. Kiev, Ring-. Ring, House of Ilia Kalf on the 
Kreshchatik Boulevard, Kiev, February 23-March 
1914 

1914. Moscow, Jack of Diamonds-. Jack of Diamonds, 
Art Salon, 11 Bolshaia Dmitrovka, Moscow, February 
1914 

1914. St. Peterburg, Goncharova-. Exhibition of 
Paintings by Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova, 1900—1913 
at the Dobychina Bureau, 63 Moika, St. Petersburg, 
March-April 1914. 

1914. Moscow, Wo. <f:No. 4, Levisson Building, 11 
Bolshaia Dmitrovka, Moscow, March-April 1914 

1914. Paris, Guillaume-. Exposition Natalia de 
Gontcharova et Michel Lahonov, Galerie Paul 
Guillaume, Paris. June 1914. 

1915. Petrograd, TramwayV: TramwayV, Imperial 
Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, 
Petrograd. March-April 1915 

1915. Moscow. Exhibition of Painting: Exhibition of 
Painting, 1915, Art Salon. 11 Bolshaia Dmitrovka, 

March— May, Moscow, 1915 

1915. Petrograd, 0. 10. -.o.w. The Last Futurist 
Exhibition. Dobychina Bureau, Petrograd, 
December 1915— January 1916 

1916. Moscow, The Store-. The Store, Petrovka, 
Moscow, March 1916 

1916. Moscow, /act of Diamonds-. Jack of Diamonds, 
Art Salon, 11 Bolshaia Dmitrovka. Moscow, 
November-December 1916 

1917. Moscow, fack of Diamonds-. Jack of Diamonds, 
Art Salon, 11 Bolshaia Dmitrovka, Moscow, 
November-December 1917 



348 



list of piaTes 



1918. Moscow, First State Exhibition-. First State 
Exhibition. Posthumous Exhibition of Paintings, 
Studies, Sketches, and Drawings by 0. V. Rozanova. Art 
Salon, Moscow. December 1918 

1919. Moscow. Tenth State Exhibition-. Tenth State 
Exhibition. Non-Objective Creativity and Suprematism, 
Art Salon. Moscow, April 1919 

1920. Kazan, First State Exhibition-. First State 
Exhibition of Art and Science in Kazan organized by the 
Political Section of the Reserve Army, the Kazan 
Gubernatorial Department of Popular Education, and 
the Kazan Sub-Section of the All- Russian Collegiate for 
Museums and the Preservation of Monuments of An and 
Antiquity, Kazan, 1920 

1920. Moscow, Nineteenth State Exhibition-. 
Nineteenth State Exhibition . Bolshaia Dmitrovka 11. 
October 2-Deceniber 4, 1920 

1921. Moscow. 5x5 = 25:515 = 25. Club of the All- 
Russian Union of Poets Moscow, September and 
October 1921 (two sessions) 

1922. Berlin, Erste russische Kunstausstellung-. Erste 
russische Kunstausstellung , Galerie Van Diemen, 
Berlin, October— November 1922 

1924. Moscow. Popova-. Posthumous Exhibition of the 
Artist -Constructor. L. S. Popova, 1889-1924, Museum 
of Painterly Culture (formerly the Central Stroganov 
Industrial Art Institute), Moscow, December 1924 



aiexanDra exxer 

1. The Bridge (Sevres), 1912 

Oil on canvas. 145 x 115 cm 

National Art Museum of Ukraine. Kiev 

Provenance: State Museum of Russian Art. Kiev; 

State Museum of Ukrainian Visual Art. Kiev 

(National Art Museum of Ukraine, Kiev) (1936) 

Inv. ZhS-045 

Exhibitions: 1913. Moscow. Jack of Diamonds 

(cat. no. 182) 

1913. St. Petersburg. Jack of Diamonds (cat. no. 404) 



2. Composition (Genoa), 1912-14 
Oil on canvas. 115.5 x ^-5 cm 
Museum Ludwig. Cologne 

Provenance: Alisa Koonen. Moscow; 

George CostaMs. Moscow; 

Galerie Gmurzynska. Cologne; 

Museum Ludwig. Cologne (1981) Inv. Mi338 

Exhibitions: 1914. Moscow . Jack of Diamonds 

(cat. no. 187 or 192) 

3. City, 1913 

Oil on canvas. 88.5 x -0.5 cm 
Regional Picture Gallery. Vologda 

Provenance: State Art Fund, Moscow. 

Vologda Museum of Local Lore. (1927); 

Regional Picture Gallery, Vologda, (1970) 

Inv. Zh-614 

Exhibitions: Possibly at 1913. St. Petersburg. 

Union of Youth (cat. no. 161) 

Possibly at 1914. Moscow. Jack of Diamonds 

(cat. no. 188) 

1914. Kiev, Ring (cat. no. 14) 

Possibly at 1914. Moscow, No. 4 (cat. no. 284) 
Possibly at 1915. Petrograd, Tramway V {cat. no. 84) 
1922. Berlin, £rste russische Kunstausstellung 
(cat. no. 32) 

4. Still Life. ca. 1913 

Collage and oil on canvas. 68 x 53 cm 
MuseoThyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid 

Provenance: Simon Lissim, New York; 

Leonard Hutton Galeries, New York (1968) ; 

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano (1973); 

MuseoThvssen-Bornemisza. Madrid. 

Inv. 540(1973.26) 

Exhibitions: 1914- Moscow. Jack of Diamonds 

(cat. no. 193) 

1915. Petrograd. Tramway V (cat. no. 86. 87. or 89) 

5. Still Life. Bowl of Cherries, 1914 
Oil on canvas, 89 x 72 cm 

Rostov Kremlin State Museum Preserve 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP: 

Museum of Architecture and Art, Rostov - 

Yaroslavskn 

(as of 1998 Rostov Kremlin State Museum Preserve) 

(1922). Inv. Zh- 142 

Exhibitions: 1915- Petrograd, TramwayV 

(cat. no. 86. 87, or 89) 



349 



LIST of PLaTes 



6. Composition, 1914 

Oil on canvas, 90.7 x 72.5 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 
Gift, George Costakis 

Provenance: Private collection, Moscow; 
George Costakis, Moscow; 

State Tretiakov Galleiy, Moscow (1977), Inv. 46984 
Exhibitions: Possibly at 1915. Petrograd, 
Tramway V (cat no. 81, as Paris Boulevards in the 
Evening ) 

7. Venice, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 123 x 97 cm 
Moderna Museet, Stockholm 

Provenance: Henschen Collection, Stockholm; 

Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1980) 

Inv. MOM(i 7 3) 

Exhibitions: 1922;- Berlin, Erste russische 

Kunstausstellung (cat. no. 33) 

8. Cityscape (Composition), ca. 1916 
Oil on canvas, 117 x88 cm 

Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP, Moscow; 
Slobodskoi Museum of Local Lore, Slobodskoi 
(as of 1998 Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition 
Center) (1919—20), Inv. SMK-995/54 
Exhibitions: Exhibition of Contemporary Russian 
Painting, Dobychina Bureau, 63 Moika. Petrograd, 
1916-17 (within cat. nos. 284-88) 

9. Non- Objective Composition, 1917 
Oil on canvas, 71 x 53 cm 

Krasnodar District Kovalenko Art Museum 

Provenance: State Art Fund, Moscow; 

Kuban Art Museum, Krasnodar; 

(as of 1940 Krasnodar District Lunacharsky 

Art Museum; Krasnodar District Kovalenko Art 

Museum, 1927), Inv. Zh-359 

Exhibition: 1922. Berlin, £rste russische 

Kunstausstellung (cat. no. 34) 



1 . Composition. Movement of Planes, 1917—18 
Oil on canvas, 92.5x76.9 cm 

State Museum of Visual Arts, Nizhnii Tagil 

Provenance: State Art Fund, Moscow; 

Museum of Local Lore, Nizhnii Tagil 

(as of 1967 State Museum of Visual Arts, 

Nizhnii Tagil) (1927), Inv. Zh-485 

Exhibition: XIV Esposizwne internazwnale d 'Arte delta 

cittadi Venezia, Venice, 1924 (cat. no. 3i or 32) 

11. Construction of Color Planes , 1921 
Oil on canvas, 89 x 89 cm 

State Radischev Art Museum, Saratov 

Provenance: State Art Fund, Moscow; 

State Radishchev Art Museum. Saratov (1929) 

Inv. Zh- 685 

Exhibition-. XIV Esposizione internazwnale d'Arte della 

cittadi Venezia, Venice, 1924 (cat. no. 3o) 

12. Construction, 1922— 23 
OH on canvas, 89.8 x 89.2 cm 

The Museum of Modern Art, New York. 

The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation 

(partial gift) 

Provenance: The Riklis Collection of McCrory 
Corporation, The Museum of Modern Art (1983) 



naTaLia GoncHarova 

1 3 . Self - Portrait with Yellow Lilies, 1907 
Oil on canvas, 77x58.2 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 

Provenance: Moscow Soviet Depository of Works 
of Contemporary Art (until mid-i92os); 
Acquired by the State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow, 
from the artist in through the mediation of 
LevZhegin (1927), Inv. 8965 
Exhibitions: 1913. Moscow, Goncharova 
(cat. no. 339) 

14. Mowers, 1907—08 

Oil on canvas, 98x118 cm 

Private Collection, Courtesy Gallery Gmurzynska, 

Cologne 

Provenance: Private collection, Cologne 
Exhibitions: 1913. Moscow, Goncharova 
(cat. no. 554?) 
1914. Paris, Gudlaume (cat. no. 54) 



350 



LIST of PLaTes 



15. Pillars of Salt, 1908 

Oil on canvas. 80.5 x 96 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 



18. Sabbath, 1912 

Oil on canvas, i3?-5 x 118 cm 

State Museum of the Visual Arts ofTatarstan, Kazan 



Provenance: 

Moscow Soviet Depository of Works of 

Contemporary Art (until mid-i920s); 

Artist's studio, Paris (after 1928); 

Alexandra Tomilina (1964.); 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1988) 

Inv.Zh-1579. P-74159 

Exhibitions: Probably at Goncharova's One-day 

Exhibition, Society of Free Esthetics. 15 Bolshaia 

Dmitrovka. Moscow, 24 March. 1910 

1913. Moscow, Goncharova (cat. no. 441) 

1914. St. Petersburg, Goncharova (cat. no. 49) 



16 . Apocalypse (Elder with Seven Stars) , 1910 
Oil on canvas, 147 x 188 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 

Provenance: Moscow Soviet Depository of Works of 

Contemporary Art (until mid-i920s); 

Artist's studio, Paris (after 1928); 

Alexandra Tomilina (1964): 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1988). 

Inv. Zh-1585 

Exhibitions: 1914. St. Petersburg, Goncharova 

(cat. no. 249) 

17. The Evangelists (in Four Parts), 1911 

1) In Blue-. 2) In Red-. 3) In Gray-, 4) In Green 
Oil on canvas, 204 x 58 cm each 
State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg 

Provenance: Moscow Soviet Depository of Works of 

Contemporary Art (until mid-i92os); 

Artist's studio. Paris (late 1920s): 

Alexandra Tomilina (1964); 

State Russian Museum, Leningrad (1966), 

inv.Zh-8i83-86 

Exhibitions: 1914. St. Petersburg, Goncharova 

(cat. no. 247). 



Provenance: State Art Fund. Moscow (1919); 
Museum Bureau of IZO NKP (1920); 
State Museum of the Tatar Soviet Republic, Kazan 
(as of 1962 State Museum of the Visual Arts of 
Tatarstan, Kazan) (1920). Inv. Zh-772 
Exhibitions: 1913. Moscow. Target (cat. no. 34) 

1913. Moscow. Goncharova (cat. no. 605) 

1914. St. Petersburg. Goncharova (cat. no. 91. 159. 
or 161) 

1920. Kazan. First State Exhibition (cat. no. 27) 

19. Peasants Gathering Grapes, 1912 
Oil on canvas. 145 x i3o cm 

State Art Museum of Bashkkortostan, Ufa 

Provenance: State Art Fund, Moscow (1919); 

Museum Bureau of IZO NKP (1920); 

State Art Museum of Bashkkortostan, Ufa (1920) 

Inv.Zh-1438 

Exhibitions: 1912- Moscow, Donkey's Tail 

(cat. no. 34) 

1913. Moscow. Goncharova (possibly cat. no. 753) 

1914. St. Petersburg, Goncharova (cat. no. i3o). 

20. Electric Lamp, igi3 

Oil on canvas, 125 x81.5 cm 
Centre Georges Pompidou, 

Musee national d'art moderne. Paris 

Provenance: Galene Der Sturm. Berlin (1914); 

Artist's Studio, Paris (1918)-. 

Alexandra Tomilna. Paris (1964); 

Musee National d'Art Moderne, Paris (1966) 

Inv.AM435BP 

Exhibitions: 1914. Moscow, No. 4 (cat. no. 39 or 51) 

21. The Weaver (Loom + Woman). 1912—13 
Oil on canvas. 153. 3 x 99 cm 
National Museum and Gallery. Cardiff 

Provenance: Mikhail Larionov; 

Sotheby's London (1964): 

Rogers Collection (1964): 

Grosvenor Gallery. London (1972); 

National Museum and Gallery, Cardiff (1975) 

Inv. A 2056 

Exhibitions: 1913. Moscow. Goncharova 

(cat. no. 765) 

1914. Paris, Guillaume (cat. no. 35) 



351 



LIST of PLaTes 



^.Airplane over a Train, 1913 

Oil on canvas, 55 x 83-5 cm 

State Museum of the Visual Arts of Tatarstan, Kazan 

Provenance: State Art Fund, Moscow (1919); 

Museum Bureau of IZO NKP (1920); 

State Museum of the Tatar Soviet Republic, Kazan 

(State Museum of the Visual Arts of Tatarstan, 

Kazan) (1920), Inv. Zh-1243 

Exhibitions: 1913. Moscow, Goncharova 

(cat. no. 632) 

1914. St. Petersburg, Goncharova (cat. no. 29) 

Kazan (cat. no. 28) 

2,3. Rayist Lilies, 1913 

Oil on canvas, 91x75.4 cm 

State Picture Gallery, Perm 

Provenance: State Art Fund, Moscow (1919); 

Museum Bureau of IZO NKP, Moscow (1920); 

Museum of Local Lore of the City of Ekaterinburg 

(1920); 

(as of 1920 Regional Museum of Local Lore, 

Sverdlov), 

State Picture Gallery, Perm (1935). Inv. Zh-538 

Exhibitions: 1913. Moscow, Target (cat. no. 45) 

1913. Moscow, Goncharova (cat. no. 633) 



26. Emptiness, igi3 

Mixed media on canvas, 80x106 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 

Provenance: Moscow Soviet Depository of Works of 

Contemporary Art (until mid -1920s); 

Artist's studio. Paris (after 1928): 

Alexandra Tomilina (1964); 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1988), 

Inv. Zh-1543 

Exhibitions: 1914. Moscow, No. 4, (cat. no. 51) 

27. Composition, 1913—14 

Oil on canvas, 103.5 x 97- 2 cm 

Centre Georges Pompidou, 

Musee national dart moderne, Paris 

Provenance: Moscow Soviet Depository of Works of 

Contemporary Art (until mid-i920s); 

Artist's studio, Paris (late 1920s); 

Alexandra Tomilina (1964); 

State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow (1988), 

Centre Georges Pompidou, Musee national d'art 

Moderne (1988), Inv. AM 1988-887 



LIUBOV POPOVa 



24. Yellow and Green Forest, 1913 
Oil on canvas. 102 x 85 cm 
Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart 



28. Composition with Figures , 1913 
Oil on canvas, 160 x 124-3 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 



Provenance: Galleria del Levante, Milan; 
Galerie Beyeler, Basel; 
Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart (1965), Inv. LNA881 
Exhibitions: 1912. Moscow, Donkey's Tail (cat. no. 
73, as Autumn Study [Spontaneous Perception] ) 
Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon, Galerie Der Sturm, 
Berlin, October-November, 1913 (cat. no. 151) 

25. Cats (rayist percep.[tion] in rose, black, and 

yellow), 1913 

Oil on canvas, 84.5 x 83.8 cm 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York 

57.1484 

Provenance: From the artist, 1957 
Exhibitions: 1913. Moscow, Target (cat. no. 49) 
1913. Moscow, Goncharova (cat. no. 645) 

1913. Berlin, Der Sturm. Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon, 
Sept. 20-Nov. 1 (cat. no. 149) 

1914. Paris. Guillaume (cat. no. 34) 



Provenance: Pavel Popov (Liubov Popovas brother) 

or his stepson, Moscow. 

George Costakis, Moscow; 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1977). Inv. i3io 

Exhibitions: 1914. Moscow, Jack of Diamonds 

(cat. no. 119) 

1924- Moscow, Popova (cat. no. 17) 

29. Italian Still Life, 1914 

Oil, plaster, and paper collage on canvas. 

61.5x48 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 

Provenance: Museum of Painterly Culture, Moscow; 

State Art Fund, Moscow; 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1927). 

Inv. Zh-9365 

Exhibitions: Fifth State Exhibition of Paintings at the 

Museum of Visual Arts. Volkhonka, Moscow, 

1918-19 (within cat. nos. 181-84) 

1922. Berlin, Erste russische Kunstausstellung 

(cat. no. 153) 

1924. Moscow. Popova (cat. no. 29) 



352 



LIST of PLaTes 



3o. Guitar, 1915 
Oil on canvas, 83-5 x 71 cm 
Collection of Elena Murina and 
Dmitrn Sarabianov. Moscow 

Provenance: Pavel Popov (Liubov Popova's brother), 

Moscow-, 

AlexanderVesnin, Moscow; 

Elena Murina and Dmitrn Sarabianov, Moscow 

(i960) 

3i. The Pianist, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 106.5x88.7 cm 

National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa 



$4,. Jug on Table. Plastic Painting, 1915 
Oil on cardboard, mounted on panel, 
59.1x45.3 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow, 
Gift, George Costakis 

Provenance: Pavel Popov (Liubov Popova's brother) 

or his stepson, Moscow; 

George Costakis, Moscow; 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1977), 

Inv. P 46736 

Exhibitions: 1915. Petrograd, o. 10 (cat. no. 96) 

1916. Moscow, The Store (cat. no. 54) 

1924. Moscow. Popova (cat. no. 16) 



Provenance: Popova family. Moscow; 

Victor Moore. Moscow (1957) (purchased through 

George Costakis); 

National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa (1966) 

Inv. NGC 14930 

3a. Lady with a Guitar, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 107 x71.5 cm 

State Museum of History, Architecture, and Art, 

Smolensk 



35. Birsk, 1916 

Oil on canvas, 106 x 69.5 cm 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. 

Gift, George Costakis 81.2822.1 

Provenance: Pavel Popov (Liubov Popova's brother), 

Moscow; 

George Costakis, Moscow; 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1981) 

Exhibitions: 1924. Moscow, Popova 



Provenance: Museum of Painterly Culture, Moscow; 

Museum Bureau of IZO NKP, Moscow (1920); 

State Museum of History, Architecture, and Art, 

Smolensk (1920), Inv. Zh-855 

Exhibitions: 1915. Petrograd. Tramway V 

(cat. no. 45) 

1916. Moscow, The Store (cat. no. 47) 

33. Traveling Woman, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 158.5 x 123 cm 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 

Provenance: Pavel Popov (Liubov Popova's brother) 

or his stepson, Moscow; 

George Costakis, Moscow; 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) (1984), 

Inv. 177.78 

Exhibitions: 1915. Petrograd, 0.10 (cat. no. 92) 

1916. Moscow, Th.e Store (cat. no. 51) 



36. Painterly Architectonics , 1917 
Oil on canvas, 107 x 88 cm 

Krasnodar District Kovalenko Art Museum 

Provenance: Museum of Painterly Culture. Moscow; 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (until 1929); 

Kuban Art Museum, Krasnodar (attributed to 

Ivan Klnm) 

(Krasnodar District Lunacharsky Art Museum; 

Krasnodar District Kovalenko Art Museum) 

Inv, 403 

Exhibitions: 1924. Moscow, Popova (within 

cat. nos. 33-46) 

37. Painterly Architectonics, 1918 
Oil on canvas. 105 x 80 cm 

Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP, Moscow; 

Museum of Local Lore, Slobodskoi. Viatka Region 

(as of 1998 Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition 

Center) (1920), Inv. SMK 995/49 

Exhibitions: Tenth State Exhibition (within cat. nos. 

164^4) 



3 5 3 



LIST OF PLSTeS 



38. Construction, 1930 

Oil on canvas, 106.8x88.7 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow 

Provenance: Museum of Painterly Culture. Moscow; 

State Art Fund, Moscow; 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1927), Inv. 9389 

Exhibitions: 1922. Berlin, Erste russische 
Kunstausstellung (cat. no. 152) 

39. Spatial-Force Construction, 1921 

Oil with marble dust on plywood, 112.7x112.7 cm 
Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 

Provenance: Pavel Popov (Liubov Popova's brother) 

or his stepson. Moscow; 

George Costakis. Moscow; 

Art Co. Ltd (Georges Costakis Collection) (1984) 

Inv. no. 17578 

40. Spatial --Force Construction, 1921 

Oil over pencil on plywood. 124 x 8s-3 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow, 
Gift. George Costakis 

Provenance: Pavel Popov (Liubov Popova's brother) 

or his stepson, Moscow-, 

George Costakis, Moscow; 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1977), 

Inv.Zhi3i4 (P 46727) 

41. Spatial-Force Construction. 1921 

Oil with marble dust on plywood. 71 x 64 cm 
Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 

Provenance: Pavel Popov (Liubov Popova's brother) 

or his stepson, Moscow; 

George Costakis. Moscow; 

Art Co. Ltd (George Costakis Collection) (1984). 

Inv. 179.78 

Exhibitions: 1924. Moscow, Popova 



OLGa rozanova 

42. Portrait of a Lady in Pink (Portrait of Anna 
Rozanova, the Artist's Sister). 1911 
Oil on canvas, 1 13 x 139 cm 
Museum of Visual Arts. Ekaterinburg 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP. Moscow; 

Museum of Local Lore of the City of Ekaterinburg, 

(as of 1920 Regional Museum of Local Lore, 

Sverdlovsk: 

as of 1936 Sverdlovsk Picture Gallery, Sverdlovsk; 

Museum of VisualArts. Ekaterinburg) (1920). 

Inv. 390 

Exhibitions: 1912, Moscow. Union ofYouth 

(cat. no. 67) 

1912. St. Petersburg. Union of Youth (cat. no. 68) 

1912-18. St Petersburg. Union ofYouth (cat. no. 73) 

1918. Moscow, First State Exhibition (cat. no. 16) 

4.3. Fire in the City (Cityscape), 1914 
Oil on metal. 71 x 71 cm 
Art Museum, Samara 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP. Moscow, 

Art Museum, Samara 

(Art Museum, Kuibyshev; 

Art Museum. Samara) (1919), Inv. Zh-411 

Exhibitions: 1915. Petrograd, TramwayV 

(cat. no. 63) 

1916. Moscow. Jack of Diamonds (cat. no. 266) 

1918. Moscow, First State Exhibition (cat. no. 65 or 

66?) 

44. Pub (Auction), 1914 

Oil on canvas. 84 x 66 cm 

State Unified Art Museum, Kostroma 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP, Moscow; 

Museum of Painterly Culture, Kostroma 

(as of 1922 Art Museum, Kostroma) (1920), 

Inv. NV5 

Exhibitions: inhibition of Paintings of Leftist Trends, 

Dobychina Bureau. Petrograd, 1915 (cat. no. 89) 

1918. Moscow , First State Exhibition (cat. no. 83) 



3 54 



LIST of PLaTes 



4.5. Jack of Hearts, i9i2(?)-i5, from the series 

Playing Cards 

Oil on canvas, 80 x 65 cm 

Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP, Moscow: 
Museum of Local Lore, Slobodskoi, Viatka Region 
(as of 1998 Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition 
Center) (1920), Inv. SMK 995/14 

Exhibitions: Exhibition of Paintings of Leftist Trends, 
Dobychina Bureau, Petrograd, 1915 (cat. no. 84) 

1917. Moscow, Jack of Diamonds (cat. no. 181, 
dated 1912) 

1918. Moscow, First State Exhibition (within cat. nos. 
36-4 7 ) 

46. King of Clubs, 1912c?)— 1915. 
from the series Playing Cards 
Oil on canvas, 72 x 60 cm 

Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP. Moscow; 
Museum of Local Lore, Slobodskoi, Viatka Region 
(as of 1998 Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition 
Center) (1920), Inv. SMK 995/23 
Exhibitions: Exhibition of Paintings of Leftist Trends, 
Dobychina Bureau, Petrograd, 1915 (cat. no. 81) 

1917. Moscow , Jack of Diamonds (cat. no. 182, 
dated 1912) 

1918. Moscow, First State Exhibition (within cat. nos. 
36-47) 

47. Queen of Spades. 1912(7)— 1915. from the series 
Playing Cards 

Oil on canvas, 77.5 x 61.5 cm 
Regional Art Museum, Ulianovsk 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP, Moscow; 

Regional Art Museum, Simbirsk 

(as of 1924 Art Museum, Ulianovsk) (1920), 

Inv. Zh-504 

Exhibitions: Exhibition of Paintings of Leftist Trends, 

Dobychina Bureau, Petrograd, 1915 (cat. no. 88) 

1917. Moscow , Jack of Diamonds (cat. no. 178, 
dated 1912) 

1918. Moscow, First State Exhibition (within cat. nos. 
3 6-47) 



48. The "Moderne" Movie Theater (In the Street) . 1915 
Oil on canvas, 101x77 cm 

Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition Center 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP, Moscow: 
Museum of Local Lore, Slobodskoi. Viatka Region 
(as of 1998 Slobodskoi Museum and Exhibition 
Center) (1920), Inv. SMK 995/48 
Exhibitions: 1915- Petrograd. 0.10 (cat. no. 123. 
called In the Street) 

1918. Moscow, First State Exhibition (cat. no, 90-91, 
as In the Street) 

49. Non-Objective Composition (Flight of an Airplane), 
1916 

Oil on canvas, 118 x 101 cm 
Art Museum, Samara 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKO: 

Art Museum, Samara (1919, where renamed Right of 

an Airplane in the early 1930s; Art Museum, 

Kuibyshev; Art Museum. Samara), Inv. Zh-418 

Exhibitions: 1916. Moscow, Jack of Diamonds 

(within cat. nos. 269^4) 

1918. Moscow, First State Exhibition (within cat. no. 

93-111) 

50. Non-Objective Composition (Suprematism) , 1916 
Oil on canvas, 90 x 74 cm 

Museum of Visual Arts, Ekaterinburg 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKO, 

Museum of Local Lore of the City of Ekaterinburg, 

(as of 1920 Regional Museum of Local Lore, 

Sverdlovsk; 

as of 1936 Sverdlovsk Picture Gallery, Sverdlovsk; 

Museum of Visual Arts. Ekaterinburg) (1920). 

Inv. Zh-409 

Exhibitions: 1916. Moscow. Jack of Diamonds 

(within cat. nos. 269—74) 

1918. Moscow, First State Exhibition (within cat. nos. 

93-111) 



355 



LIST OF PLaTes 



51. Non-Objective Composition (Suprematism) , 1916 
Oil on canvas. 102 x 94 cm 

Museum of Visual Arts. Ekaterinburg 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKO; 

Museum of Local Lore of the City of Ekaterinburg 

(as of 1920 Regional Museum of Local Lore. 

Sverdlovsk; 

as of 1936 Sverdlovsk Picture Gallery-. Sverdlovsk: 

Museum of Visual Arts, Ekaterinburg) (1920). 

Inv. Zh-411 

Exhibitions: 1916. Moscow, Jack of Diamonds 

(within cat. nos. 269—74) 

1918. Moscow, First State Exhibition (within cat. nos. 

93-111) 

52. Color Painting (Non-Objective Composition) , 1917 
Oil on canvas. 62.5 x 40.5 cm 

State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg 

Provenance: Museum of Artistic Culture. Petrograd 

(1922); 

State Russian Museum, Leningrad (1926), 

Inv. ZhB 1579 

Exhibitions: 1917. Moscow. Jack of Diamonds (within 

cat. nos. 159—76. under the title Color Composition) 

1918. Moscow. First State Exhibition (within cat. nos. 
1 16-27 utider the title Color Composition) 

1919. Moscow. Tenth State Exhibition (cat. no. 181 or 
182?) 



54. Green Stripe (Color Painting) . 1917 

Oil on canvas. 71.5x49 cm 

Rostov Kremlin State Museum Preserve 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP: 

Museum of Architecture and Art. Rostov- 

Yaroslavskii 

(as of 1998 Rostov Kremlin State Museum Preserve) 

(1922). Inv. 371 

Exhibitions: 1917. Moscow, Jack of Diamonds (within 

cat. nos. 159^76. as Color Composition) 

1918. Moscow. First State Exhibition (within cat. nos. 
116—27. as Color Composition ) 

1919. Moscow. Tenth State Exhibition (cat. no. 181 or 

182?) 



varvara STepanova 

55. Illustration for the poem "RtnrKhomle. " 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 23.3 x 17.7 cm 

Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family. Moscow; 
Private collection. Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1919- Moscow. Tenth State Exhibition 

56. Illustration for the poem "RtnyKhomle." 1918 
Watercolor on paper. 23.3 x 17.7 cm 

Private collection 



53. Non-Objective Composition (Color Painting). 1917 
Oil on canvas, 71 x 64 cm 
Regional Art Museum. Ulianovsk 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP. Moscow: 

Regional Art Museum. Simbirsk. 

(as of 1924. Art Museum. Ulianovsk) (1920), 

Inv. 1180-zh 

Exhibitions: 1917- Moscow, Jack of Diamonds (within 

cat. nos. 159^76, under the title Color Composition) 

1918. Moscow. First State Exhibition (within cat. nos. 
116—27 2S Color Composition) 

1919. Moscow. Tenth-State Exhibition (cat. no. 181 or 
182?) 



Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 

Private collection. Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1919. Moscow. Tenth State Exhibition 

57. Illustration for the poem "RtnrKhomle," 1918 
Watercolor on paper. 23.3 x 17.7 cm 

Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family. Moscow: 

Private collection. Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1919. Moscow. Tenth State Exhibition 

58. Illustration for the poem- "RtnrKhomle. " 1918 
Watercolor on paper. 23.3 x 17.7 cm 

Private collection 



Provenance: Artists family. Moscow; 

Private collection . Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1919. Moscow. Tenth State Exhibition 



3^6 



list of PLaxes 



59. Illustration for the poem, "ZigraAr," 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8 x 16 cm 
Private collection 



65. Dancing Figures on White, 1920 
Oil on canvas, 107.5 x ! 4^-5 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 



Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 

Private collection, Moscow 

Exhibitions; 1919. Moscow, Tenth State Exhibition 

60. Illustration for the poem "ZigraAr, " 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8 x 16 cm 
Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 

Private collection, Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1919. Moscow, Tenth State Exhibition 

61. Illustration for the poem "ZigraAr." 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8x16 cm 
Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 
Private collection, Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1919- Moscow, Tenth State Exhibition 

62. Illustration for the poem "ZigraAr," 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8 x 16 cm 
Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 

Private collection. Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1919- Moscow, Tenth State Exhibition 

63. Illustration for the poem "ZigraAr" 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8x16 cm 
Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 

Private collection, Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1919. Moscow, Tenth State Exhibition 

64. Illustration for the poem "ZigraAr," 1918 
Watercolor on paper, 18.8 x 16 cm 
Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 

Private collection, Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1919. Moscow, Tenth State Exhibition 



Provenance: Artist's family. Moscow; 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1998) 
Exhibitions: 1919. Moscow, Tenth State Exhibition 
1920. Moscow, Exhibition of Four Artists (Kandinsky. 
Rodchenko, Stepanova, Shevchenko) 

66. Five Figures on a White Background , 1920 
Oil on canvas, 80 x 98 cm 

Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 

Private collection, Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1920. Moscow, Nineteenth State 

Exhibition 

Exhibition of Four Artists (Kandinsky. Rodchenko. 

Stepanova. Shevchenko) 

67. Billiard Players, 1920 
Oil on canvas, 68 x 129 cm 

Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection 

Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 
Galene Gmurzynska, Cologne; 
Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. Lugano (1983); 
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid 
(1995). Inv. 54,0.730 

68 . Playing Draughts . 1920 
Oil on plywood. 78 x 62 cm 
Private collection 

Provenance: Artists family, Moscow; 

Private collection. Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1920. Moscow, Nineteenth State 

Exhibition 

Exhibition of Four Artists (Kandinsky- Rodchenko. 

Stepanova, Shevchenko) 

69. Trumpet Player, 1920 
Oil on canvas, 70 x 57 cm 
Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family. Moscow-. 

Private collection. Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1920. Moscow, Nineteenth State 

Exhibition 

Exhibition of Four Artists (Kandinsky, Rodchenko. 

Stepanova. Shevchenko) 



357 



LIST of PLaTes 



70. Musicians, 1920 

Oil on canvas. 106 x 142 cm 

Museum of Private Collections, 

Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. Moscow 



75. Composition, 1913 

Oil on canvas, 111.5 x *^3 cm 

Museum of History and Architecture, 

Pereiaslavl-Zalesskii 



Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow-. 
Museum of Private Collections, State Pushkin 
Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow (1992), Inv. ZhR-828 
Exhibitions: 1919- Moscow, Tenth State Exhibition 
1920. Moscow, Exhibition of Four Artists (Kandmsky, 
Hodchenko. Stepanova, Shevchenko) 

71. Self -Portrait, 1920 

Oil on plywood, 71 x 52.5 cm 

Museum of Private Collections, 

Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow 

Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 

Museum of Private Collections, Pushkin State 

Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow (1992), Inv. ZhR826 

Exhibitions: 1920. Moscow. Nineteenth State 

Exhibition 

Exhibition of Four Artists (Kandmsky, Rodchenko. 

Stepanova, Shevchenko) 

72. Figure (Peasant), 1921 

Oil on canvas, 99.5 x 65.5 cm 
Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 

Private collection, Moscow 

Exhibitions; 1921. Moscow, 5x5 =35 (cat. no. 1) 

73. Figure, 1921 

Oil on canvas, 125 X71.5 cm 
Private collection 

Provenance: Artist's family, Moscow; 

Private collection, Moscow 

Exhibitions: 1921. Moscow, 5x5 = 25 (cat. no. 3 or 5) 



naoezHDa uDaivrsova 

74. Seamstress. 1912-13 

Oil on canvas, 71.5x70.5 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 

Provenance: Andrei Drevin, the artist's son. 

Moscow; 

George Costakis. Moscow; 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1977), 

Inv. Zh-1297 



Provenance: Ivanovo Regional Museum; 
Museum of History and Architecture, Pereiaslavl- 
Zalesskii (1923), Inv. 9934 
Exhibitions: 1914. Moscow , Jack of Diamonds 
(cat. no. 144) 

y 6. At the Piano, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 107x89 cm 

Yale University Art Gallery, 

Gift of Collection Societe Anonyme 

Provenance: 1922- Berlin, Erste russische 

Kunstausstellung; 

Katherine Dreier, New York (1922); 

Societe Anonyme, New York (1922); 

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven (1941), 

Inv. 1941.725 

Exhibitions: 1915. Petrograd, 0.10 (cat. no. 145, 

as Music ) 

1916. Moscow, The Store (cat. no. 80) 

1922. Berlin, Erste russische Kunstausstellung 

(cat. no. 235) 

77. Guitar Fugue, 1914—15 
Oil on canvas, 70.3 x 50.4 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow, 
Gift, George Costakis 

Provenance: George Costakis, Moscow; 
State Tretiakov Gallery. Moscow (1977), 
Inv. Zh-1296 

78. Artist 's Model. 1914 
Oil on canvas. 106x71 cm 

State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg 

Provenance: Museum of Artistic Culture, Petrograd; 
State Russian Museum, Leningrad (1926), 
Inv. Zh-B 1712 

Exhibitions: 1915. Petrograd, Tramway V (cat . no. 
73, asArtist's Model with Guitar [Architectonic 
Composition]) 

79. New, 1914-15 

Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 cm 

Vasnetsov Regional Art Museum, Kirov 

Provenance: Yaransk Museum of Local Lore of Kirov- 
Region (1923); 

Vasnetsov Regional Art Museum, Kirov (1958), 
Inv. NV/Zh-54 



3 5 8 



list of PLaxes 



80. Self '- Portrait with Palette, 1915 
Oil on canvas, 72 x 53 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 

Provenance: Museum of Painterly Culture; 
State Tretiakov Gallery (1929), Inv. 11929 
Exhibitions: 1915. Petrograd, 0.10 (cat. no. 150, 
as My Representation) . 

81. Red Figure, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 70 x 70 cm 

Rostov Kremlin State Museum Preserve 



85. Painterly Construction, 1916 
Oil on canvas, 109 x 79 cm 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 

Provenance: Museum of Artistic Culture. Moscow; 
State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1929). Inv. 11931 
Exhibitions: 1916. Moscow, Jack of Diamonds 
(cat. no. 283. 284. or 285) 

86. Untitled, 1916 
Watercolor on paper, 48 x 40 cm 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 



Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP, Moscow: 
Museum of Architecture and Art, Rostov-Yaroslaskii 
(as of 1998 Rostov Kremlin State Museum Preserve, 
Rostov) (1922). Inv. Zh-i36 

82. Study for Restaurant, 1915 
Oil on canvas, 71 x 53 cm 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow 

Provenance: Museum of Painterly Culture, Moscow; 

State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow (1929). Inv. 11930 

Exhibitions: 1915. Petrograd, Tramway V 

(cat. no. 72) 

1916. Moscow, The Store (cat. no. 74) 

83. Restaurant, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 134 x 116 cm 

State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg 

Provenance: Museum of Artistic Culture, Petrograd; 
State Russian Museum, Leningrad (1926) Inv. i334 
Exhibitions: 1916. Moscow, The Store (cat. no. 73) 

84. Kitchen, 1915 

Oil on canvas, 161 x 165 cm 
Museum of Visual Arts, Ekaterinburg 

Provenance: Museum Bureau of IZO NKP, Moscow; 

Museum of Local Lore of the City of Ekaterinburg, 

(as of 1 920 Regional Museum of Local Lore, 

Sverdlovsk; 

as of 1936 Sverdlovsk Picture Gallery, Sverdlovsk; 

Museum of Visual Arts, Ekaterinburg) (1920), 

Inv. 421 

Exhibitions: 1915. Petrograd, 0.10 (cat. no. 146) 

1919, Moscow, Fifth State Exhibition of Paintings 

(From Impressionism to N on -Objectivity), as cat. 

no. 268 



Provenance: Andrei Drevin, the artist's son, 

Moscow; 

George Costakis. Moscow; 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) (1984), 

Inv. ATH 80.21 

87. Untitled, 1916 

Gouache and pencil on paper, 24.6 x 15.9 cm 
Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 

Provenance: Andrei Drevin, the artist's son, 

Moscow; 

George Costakis, Moscow; 

Art Co. Ltd (George Costakis Collection) (1984). 

Inv. 200.80 

88. Untitled, 1916 
Gouache on paper, 48 x 38-5 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 

Provenance; Andrei Drevin. the artist's son, 

MOSCOW; 

George Costakis. Moscow; 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) (1984) 

Inv. ATH 80.19 

89. Untitled, 1916 

Gouache on paper. 64 x 44.5 cm 

Art Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection) 

Provenance: Andrei Drevin, the artist's son. 

Moscow; 

George Costakis. Moscow; 

Art Co. Ltd (George Costakis Collection) (1984). 

Inv. ATH 80.18 



359 



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36 5 



PHOTO creDus 



by figure number 

2. Courtesy private collection; 5. Courtesy Puni- 
Archiv, Zurich; 8. Archive of the Institute of Modern 
Russian Culture, Los Angeles; 10. © Estate of 
Vera Mukhina/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. 
Photo: Courtesy Harry N. Abrams, Inc.; 11. Courtesy 
Art Resource.© Erich Lessing; 12. Courtesy Georgii 
Kovalenko; 14,. Courtesy private collection; 
18. © State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg: 
20. ©National Museum of American Art, 
Smithsonian Institution: 22- © State Russian 
Museum, St. Petersburg; 23. Courtesy Galart, 
Moscow; 24. Courtesy private collection-, 

26. Courtesy Herman Bernmger. Zurich; 

27. © 1999 The Museum of ModernArt, New York; 

28. Courtesy of Solianka Gallery, Moscow (Oton 
Engels Archive, Malakov Collection); 29. Courtesy 
of Vera and Nikita Goleizovsky, Moscow; 33. 
Courtesy private collection; 35. Rheinisches 
Bildarchiv, Cologne. 38. Photo by David Heald; 
41. Courtesy Galart, Moscow; 42. Courtesy 
Alexandra Galitzin Archive, Museum of Russian 
Culture, San Francisco; 43. © State Russian 
Museum, St. Petersburg; 44. © State Tretiakov 
Gallery, Moscow; 45. Archive of the Institute of 
Modern Russian Culture, LosAngeles; 46. Courtesy 
Bakhrushin State Theater Museum. Moscow; 

48. Courtesy Galart. Moscow; 49. Courtesy 
Osterreichisches Theatermuseum. Vienna; 

54. © State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; 

55. Courtesy private collection; 57. Courtesy private 
collection; 58. Archive of the Institute of Modern 
Russian Culture, Los Angeles; 61. Archive of the 
Institute of Modern Russian Culture, Los Angeles; 
62. Courtesy Maxim Fedorovsky, Berlin; 64. © State 
Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; 65. Courtesy Art 
Co. Ltd. (George Costakis Collection); 66. © State 
Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow; 69. Courtesy private 
collection; 74. Courtesy private collection; 

77. Courtesy Ekaterma Drevina; 78. Courtesy 
Dmitrii Sarabianov, Moscow; 82. Courtesy Vasilii 
Rakitin; 84. Archive of the Institute of Modern 
Russian Culture. Los Angeles; 91. Courtesy Mariia 
Zubova, Moscow: 94. Courtesy private collection; 
100. Courtesy private collection. 



Valereii Evstigneev; 70, 71 : © Museum of Private 
Collections, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Moscow; 
78. © State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; 
83. © State Russian Museum. St. Petersburg, 
courtesy Harry N. Abrams. Inc.; 86—89: ©Art Co. 
Ltd. (George Costakis Collection). 



byplate number 

2- Rheinisches Bildarchiv, Cologne; 6, i3, 15, 
16, 26, 28, 29. 34, 38, 40, 65, 74, 77, 80, 82. 85. 
© State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow; 12. © 1999 
The Museum of ModernArt, New York; 14. Karl 
Arendt, AFD, Cologne; 17. © State Russian Museum. 
St. Petersburg; 20. Phototheque des collections 
du Mnam/Cci; 21 - © National Museum and Gallery. 
Cardiff; 27. Phototheque des collections du 
Mnam/Cci.; 33, 39. 41: © Art Co. Ltd. (George 
Costakis Collection); 55-64, 66, 68, 69, 72.