When I travelled Switzerland last week I was also invited to the Fondation Beyeler – one of my favorite places in the world. There is hardly any other museum which has such nice grounds. It’s a beautiful place which invites you to stay. So I guess you know how delighted I was by the invitation. The exhibition they’re showing right now – In the Search of 0.10: The Last Futurist Exhibition of Painting 0,10 (Zero-Ten) – is about the Russian avant-garde around Kasimir Malevich and Wladimir Tatlin. That doesn’t sound so exciting, I know. But, seriously, a lot of people doesn’t seem to know that the Russian avant-garde was highly influenced by women and the loose artist group consisted of women and men equally. So what you get in this exhibition is true evidence of real girl power. And that’s what I like about the Russian avant-garde. I am a big celebrator of strong women in history and these women were amazing and are unfortunately mostly forgotten. So I’d like to tell you a bit about them and the movement they were a part of.
The “The Last Futurist Exhibition of Painting 0,10” exhibition was held in 1915 in Petrograd (the new name given to the German-sounding Russian capital of Saint Petersburg shortly after the outbreak of the First World War) and proved to be one of the 20th century’s key shows. It marks a turning-point in the history of modern art, describing the historic moment when Kasimir Malevich created his first non-objective paintings and Vladimir Tatlin presented his revolutionary counter-reliefs to the public. Most of the other artists who participated in the original exhibition are also represented in the reconstructed version at the Fondation Beyeler: Natan Altman, Vassily Kamenski, Ivan Kljun, Michail Menkov, Vera Pestel, Ljubov Popova, Ivan Puni, Olga Rosanova, Nadeschda Udalzova and Marie Vassilieff. Some of them were lovers, some rivals, so a lot of personal drama was going on in the group. If you read about it, it’s like a novel.
The exhibition was organized by Ivan Puni and his wife Xenia Boguslavskaja, opened on 19 December 1915 in Petrograd with more than 150 works by fourteen artists, most of whom were supporters of either Malevich or Tatlin. Only around one-third of the 150 works exhibited have survived until today. The exhibition was held in the gallery of Nadeschda Dobytschina, who is considered to have been Russia’s first gallerist. And a female gallerist, too! From 1911 onwards she used a few rooms of her large private apartment as an exhibition space and was well known on the art scene.
After that show, Malevich and Tatlin immediately became leaders of the European avant-garde. But I don’t feel like telling you about them as there’re plenty of books and texts on both of them. I think the unknown women are much more interesting and I am very happy their works are presented well at the Fondation. Some of them were fashion designers and authors, too. Professions you would never expect women from that time to have. So I hope you excuse that this post is little longer than our regular basis 😉 there are just so many women to honour.
XENIA LEONIDOVNA BOGUSLAVSKAYA
(Novgorod 1892 – 1971 Paris)
She studied painting in Saint Petersburg before attending the academy in Paris from 1911 to 1913. While in Paris, she designed textiles for Paul Poiret. On returning to Saint Petersburg in 1913, she married Ivan Puni. The couple’s apartment became a meeting place for Futurist and other avant-garde artists and writers. She promoted and financed a variety of exhibitions and publications. In 1919–20, Boguslavskaya and Puni fled Russia, escaping to Berlin via Finland. She designed covers for German and Russian publications and was active as a stage designer. She designed clothing and textiles for a number of companies.
ANNA MIKHAILOVNA KIRILLOVA
(St. Petersburg 1886 – 1967 Leningrad)
Attending the Maria N. Stojunina secondary school for girls, one of the city’s most progressive educational institutions, she was admitted in 1906 to the school of the Imperial Art Academy but was expelled after six months for lack of achievement. Thereafter, she is thought to have received private art lessons in studios in Saint Petersburg. She first exhibited in public in 1913, showing seventeen works at an exhibition mounted in Saint Petersburg by the Independent Artists’ Association. Subsequently, she exhibited regularly at Nadezhda E. Dobychina’s gallery. None of the four still lifes Kirillova showed at 0,10 (cats. 17–20) has survived. It is not known what happened to her estate: her only extant work is the watercolor The Toys’ Ball, 1921, which is preserved in the National Library of Russia, Saint Petersburg.
VERA EFREMOVNA PESTEL
(Moscow 1887 – 1952 Moscow)
She attended Sunday painting classes at Moscow’s Imperial Central Stroganov School of Technical Design, one of the leading Russian art colleges, from 1904 to 1906. She was close friends with Lyubov Popova, Tatlin, and Nadezhda Udaltsova. In 1912, she traveled to Paris, where she studied under Henri Le Fauconnier and Jean Metzinger at the Académie de la Palette. From 1910, she participated in exhibitions in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. She was represented at 0,10 by four paintings in the Cubo-Futurist style (cats. 82–85), of which only one is extant. After 1916, she took up Suprematism for a while and became a member of Supremus, the artists’ group established by Kazimir Malevich. From 1918, she was active as a stage and costume designer.
LYUBOV SERGEYEVNA POPOVA IVANOVSKOYE
(Moscow 1889 – 1924 Moscow)
She received her first lessons in painting from her family’s domestic tutor while she was still a schoolgirl. From 1908 to 1909, she attended the art school run by Konstantin Yuon and Ivan Dudin in Moscow. Giotto and traditional Russian icons made a particularly deep impression when she visited Italy and a number of medieval Russian towns in 1910 and 1911. In Paris, in 1912–13, she attended painting courses given by Henri Le Fauconnier and Jean Metzinger at the Académie de la Palette. On returning to Moscow in 1913, she collaborated closely with Vladimir Tatlin and Nadezhda Udaltsova. Popova contributed ten paintings and two reliefs to 0,10, most of which have been identified and are extant. After the October Revolution of 1917, she became a professor at the Free State Art Studios (Svomas, later part of the Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops [Vkhutemas]) in Moscow and subsequently taught at the Higher State Theater Workshops at the invitation of the director Vsevolod Meyerhold. She eventually abandoned painting almost completely, focusing on book and industrial design, especially for porcelain and textiles. From 1920 to 1923, she designed costumes and sets for various theaters in Moscow.
OLGA VLADIMIROVNA ROZANOVA MELENKI
(Vladimir Province 1886 – 1918 Moscow)
Rozanova studied at the art school run by Konstantin Yuon and Ivan Dudin in Moscow until 1910. That year, she settled in Saint Petersburg and took instruction at another private art school. In 1912, she met the Futurist poet and inventor of “transrational (zaum) language” Alexei Kruchenykh, who wrote the libretto for the Futurist opera Victory over the Sun (1913), and they were lovers for many years. Her illustrations to texts by him and other writers rank as a major contribution to twentieth-century book design. At 0,10, she was represented by eleven works, including two reliefs that were subsequently destroyed. Six of the paintings have survived. She also wrote poetry in the “transrational language.” After the October Revolution of 1917, she and Alexander Rodchenko headed the Art and Industry subsection of the Department of Visual Arts (IZO) of the People’s Commissariat for Enlightenment (Narkompros). She helped to design Agitprop for streets and squares in Moscow; assisted in setting up Free State Art Studios (Svomas) in various cities; and published articles in the Moscow newspaper Anarchy.
NADEZHDA ANDREYEVNA UDALTSOVA
(Orel 1886 – 1961 Moscow)
She studied painting from 1905 to 1908 at the art school run by Konstantin Yuon and Ivan Dudin in Moscow. She undertook study trips to Germany and received instruction in painting at a number of private studios. In Paris, in 1912–13, she and Lyubov Popova attended courses in painting given by Henri Le Fauconnier and Jean Metzinger at the Académie de la Palette. On her return to Moscow, she collaborated closely with Vladimir Tatlin and, in 1914, began exhibiting her work, which at this time was strongly influenced by French Cubism. At 0,10, she showed ten paintings, most of which have been identified and still exist. After the October Revolution of 1917, she became a member of the Department of Visual Arts (IZO) of the People’s Commissariat for Enlightenment (Narkompros) and was a professor at the Free State Art Studios (Svomas) from 1918 to 1920. In 1920–21, she was a member of the Institute of Artistic Culture (Inkhuk). She was a professor of textile design at the Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops (Vkhutemas; later the Higher Artistic and Technical Institute [Vkhutein]) until 1930 and subsequently at the Textile Institute in Moscow.
#museum | Fondation Beyeler
#exhibition | In the Search of 0.10: The Last Futurist Exhibition of Painting 0,10
#until | January 10 2016