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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. 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 s. Bowlt also demonstrates that, by the s, 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.
Rozanova, Stepanova, and Udaltsova had on fashion and design. 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. 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.contbactahi.gq
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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. Guggenheim Museum in , has become the exemplar of this approach. 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. 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 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 and , it is thirteen days behind. Finally, the city of St.
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Petersburg was renamed Petrograd in ; Leningrad in ; and then St. Petersburg again in However, both Petrograd and Petersburg continued to be used freely in common parlance and publications until As a general rule, Petrograd has been retained here to denote the official name of St.
Petersburg from — MM, Mm. Varvara Stepanova and Liubov Popova. 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. 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.
Certainly, the idea of grouping together a number of important Russian women artists and assembling their works into an exhibition is not new: in i Andrei Somov, Curator of Paintings at the Hermitage in St. Apollo organ- ized an exhibition of Russian women artists in its editorial offices: and in the late s — 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.
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 ; this exhibition and its catalogue remain a cornerstone in current research on the history of the Russian avant-garde. Moscou, Saint-Petersbourg, Paris — , organized by Valentine and Jean-Claude Marcade and shown at Artcurial, Centre d'Art Plastique Contemporain, Paris, in — added to the basic sources presented in the Galerie Gmurzynska exhibition, reinforcing the already powerful position of women in histories of Russian art.
Konstruktive, konkrete und radikale Kunst von Frauen von bis heute  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 J0H 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 s through the s.
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.
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. The traditional attribution of the qualities of ingenuousness, infantility, and innocence to women certainly continued through the s: 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.
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 s — women of the All- Russian Social Revolutionary Organization who had believed in violence, even assassination, as a real political instrument.
Hans Hildebrandt, for example, emphasized the role of women artists in both studio painting and design in his Die Frau als Kunstlerinn , '7 and most of the early surveys of Russian Modernism draw jonn. BOWLT attention to this fact. Writing in , for example, Mikhail Tsetlin.
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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.
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They raised the artistic level of life by their aesthetic aspira- tions. 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. 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.