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Article

Anna Moszynska

Term applied in its strictest sense to forms of 20th-century Western art that reject representation and have no starting- or finishing-point in nature. As distinct from processes of abstraction from nature or from objects (a recurring tendency across many cultures and periods that can be traced as far back as Palaeolithic cave painting), abstract art as a conscious aesthetic based on assumptions of self-sufficiency is a wholly modern phenomenon (see Abstraction).

In the late 19th century, and particularly in Symbolist art and literature, attention was refocused from the object to the emotions aroused in the observer in such a way that suggestion and evocation took priority over direct description and explicit analogy. In France especially this tradition contributed to the increased interest in the formal values of paintings, independent of their descriptive function, that prepared the way for abstraction. In his article ‘Définition du néo-traditionnisme’, published in L’Art et critique...

Article

(Isayevich)

(b Vinnitsa, Ukraine, Dec 22, 1889; d Leningrad [now St Petersburg], Dec 12, 1970).

Russian painter, graphic artist, sculptor and designer of Ukrainian birth. He studied painting at the School of Art in Odessa (1901–7) under Kiriak Kostandi (1852–1921), at the same time attending classes in sculpture. In 1908–9 he made a series of pointillist paintings. He visited Vienna and Munich in 1910 before going to Paris, where he worked at Vasil’yeva’s Free Russian Academy until 1912, producing paintings on Jewish themes and studying Cubism. In 1912 he went to St Petersburg, where he painted a number of Cubist portraits, for example of the poet Anna Akhmatova (1914; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.). His Cubist work makes much use of faceting and transparent planes. From 1918 to 1921 he taught at the Department of Visual Arts (IZO) of Narkompros in Petrograd, but he was criticized for his attempts to identify Futurism with the art of the proletariat. Al’tman became well known as the designer of post-Revolutionary mass parades and monuments, for example the celebration of the first anniversary of the Revolution on ...

Article

V. Ya. Petrukhin

(Illarionovich)

(b Vygolevo, Tver’ Province, Dec 5, 1898; d Leningrad [now St Petersburg], July 29, 1972).

Russian archaeologist and art historian . He began studying archaeology at the Archaeological Institute in Petrograd (now St Petersburg) in 1921 and subsequently at the University in that city. He became a postgraduate student in 1926, then joined the staff of the State Academy for the History of Material Culture, where he studied aspects of Old Russian art, including the miniatures of the Königsberg (Radziwill) Chronicle (St Petersburg, Acad. Sci., Lib.). He became a professor in 1935 and was appointed head of the faculty of archaeology at Leningrad State University in 1949. He was director of the Institute for the History of Material Culture from 1938 to 1945 and curator of the State Hermitage Museum from 1951 to 1964. His most important works deal with the history, archaeology and art of the Scythians, Slavs and Khazars and include a study of the Hermitage’s collection of Scythian art (1970); he also conducted research into the Scythian–Siberian Animal Style. He directed excavations of numerous ancient and early medieval monuments in the Don region, the Ukraine and the northern Caucasus, including excavations of the Khazar Sarkel fortress (Rus. Belaya Vezha). The art of medieval nomads is discussed in his monograph on the history of the Khazars....

Article

Mikhail F. Kiselyov

(Vasil’yevich)

(b Valayka Station, Novgorod Province [now Lykoshino, Tver’ region], 1878; d en route from Germany to Paris, Feb 22, 1936).

Russian graphic artist, ceramicist, painter and designer. In 1896 he studied at the School of Drawing at the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts and in 1897 at Maria Tenisheva’s art school in St Petersburg, where he worked under Il’ya Repin until 1900. In 1904 he worked in the pottery studio at the Abramtsevo colony. At this period he employed Art Nouveau elements in his work, as in the majolica decorations for the Hotel Metropole, St Petersburg (early 1900s) and the majolica panel St George Triumphant for the Municipal Primary School on Bol’shaya Tsaritsynskaya [now Bol’shaya Pirogovskaya] Street in Moscow (1909). He took up book illustration in 1904 and his graphic talent flourished in the 1910s. His work for Apollon was particularly successful, his illustrations first appearing in its pages in 1911. Chekhonin soon became an original and skilful artist, using a sharp and elastic line interspersed with dots. From ...

Article

Inkhuk  

John E. Bowlt

[Institut Khudozhestvennoy Kultury; Rus.: ‘Institute of Artistic Culture’]

Soviet institute for research in the arts that flourished from 1920 to 1926. Inkhuk was a dominant force in the development of Soviet art, architecture and design in the 1920s. Founded in Moscow in May 1920, with affiliations in Petrograd (now St Petersburg) and Vitebsk, it attracted many members of the avant-garde, especially Lyubov’ Popova and Aleksandr Rodchenko; its key administrative positions were occupied by Vasily Kandinsky (Moscow), Vladimir Tatlin (Petrograd) and Kazimir Malevich (Vitebsk). At one time Inkhuk maintained contact with Berlin (through El Lissitzky and the journal Veshch’/Gegenstand/Objet), the Netherlands, Hungary and Japan, although it never really had the chance to develop these international connections. One of the principal aims of Inkhuk was to reduce the modern movements such as Suprematism and Tatlin’s concept of the ‘culture of materials’ (see Tatlin, Vladimir) to a scientifically based programme that could be used for educational and research purposes—a development analogous to the initial endeavours of the Russian Formalist school of literary criticism, which attempted to analyse literature in terms of formal structures. In its aspiration to elaborate a rational basis for artistic practice, Inkhuk encouraged discussions on specific issues of artistic content and form, such as the debate on ‘composition versus construction’ in ...

Article

Anthony Parton

[Rus. Bubnovy Valet]

Group of Russian avant-garde painters active in Moscow from 1910 to 1917. It was founded by Mikhail Larionov, Natal’ya Goncharova, Aristarkh Lentulov, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Robert Fal’k, Il’ya Mashkov and Aleksandr Kuprin, young artists who found membership of existing art societies no longer compatible with their experimental styles of painting. Regular participants included Alexandra Exter, David Burlyuk and Vladimir Burlyuk. The name ‘Jack of Diamonds’, chosen by Larionov, suggested not only the roguish behaviour of the avant-garde but also their love of popular graphic art forms such as old printed playing cards.

The group’s first exhibition took place in Moscow in 1910, and, following the example of the exhibitions sponsored by the magazine Golden Fleece, they invited contributions from foreign artists such as Albert Gleizes, Albert Le Fauconnier and members of the ‘Neue Künstlervereinigung München’, including Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter and Alexei Jawlenski. In this first exhibition the influence of the ...

Article

Laima Laučkaitė

(b Sejny (now Poland), Nov 14, 1890; d Vilnius, June 13, 1961).

Lithuanian painter, art theoretician, and teacher. He studied at the Vilnius School of Drawing (1910–2), Moscow Drawing School of Konstantin Yuon (1912–6, simultaneously studied law at Moscow University), and Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1917–8). During the World War I he was drafted into the army. In 1918–19 he worked in the Art Department of People’s Education in the Voronezh district, and in 1920 he was an artist and advisor on art at the Fifth Red Army headquarters in Irkutsk. In 1920–21 he studied in Vkhutemas (Higher Art and Technical Studios) in Moscow under Pavel Kuznetsov, where he joined the Russian avant-garde movement, working in Constructivism, Cubism, and Suprematism. In 1921–32 he lived in Vilnius (then belonging to Poland) and taught drawing in Lithuanian schools and his own studio (1921–8). He organized the Exhibition of New Art in Vilnius in 1923...

Article

Adam M. Thomas

(b Minden, Jan 15, 1902; d Austin, TX, Dec 8, 1985).

American painter of German birth. Kelpe moved to Hannover to study art and architecture in 1919. In the early 1920s he was exposed to the leading abstract trends in European modernism, including Suprematism and Constructivism. Kelpe developed an abstract painting vocabulary characterized by geometric order, hard edges, overlapping planes, and interpenetrating shapes before immigrating to the United States in 1925. He eventually settled in Chicago, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1932 at the Little Gallery. In the late 1920s Kelpe applied found objects to his paintings, as exemplified by Construction with Lock and Key (1927; Washington, DC, Hirshhorn). He abandoned such constructions by the early 1930s in favor of integrating in paint recognizable gears, wheels and machine parts into his abstract compositions. Machine Elements (1934; Newark, NJ, Mus.), with its stacked semi-abstract machine and factory forms, is representative of his work during the period. Kelpe worked for the Public Works of Art Project in ...

Article

A. N. Lavrentiev

(Vladimirovich)

(b Novocherkassk, 1897; d Moscow, 1979).

Russian photographer. In 1925 he enrolled as a trainee film cameraman in Moscow, and from 1926 he worked under Boris Petrovich Podluzsky in the photography section of the State Academy of Artistic Sciences (GAKhN), where he became a virtuoso in applied photography. He was equally successful in highly complex reproduction work and with contemplative still-lifes, such as Milk and Bread (1926). His photos of museum exhibits, architectural details, plants and seeds were published in journals, books and catalogues. In 1931 he initiated a series of lectures on ‘museum photography’ for higher museum studies courses and for post-graduate students at the Central Museum of the Revolution. In the 1930s he produced still-lifes and exhibited frequently at photographic shows. In the 1960s he founded the Moscow Novator photography club, which he ran for 15 years, while continuing to work as a photographer at the Historical Museum.

A. Khlebnikov: ‘Kultura masterstva’ [The culture of craftsmanship], ...

Article

[Klutsis, Gustav (Gustavovich)]

(b Rŭjiena, Latvia, Jan 4, 1895; d Siberia, 1944).

Latvian painter, sculptor, graphic artist, designer and teacher, active in Russia. He was an important exponent of Russian Constructivism. He studied in Riga and Petrograd (now St Petersburg), but in the 1917 October Revolution joined the Latvian Rifle Regiment to defend the Bolshevik government; his sketches of Lenin and his fellow soldiers show Cubist influence. In 1918 he designed posters and decorations for the May Day celebrations and he entered the Free Art Studios (Svomas) in Moscow, where he studied with Malevich and Antoine Pevsner. Dynamic City (1919; Athens, George Costakis priv. col., see Rudenstine, no. 339) illustrates his adoption of the Suprematist style. In 1920 Klucis exhibited with Pevsner and Naum Gabo on Tver’skoy Boulevard in Moscow; in the same year Klucis joined the Communist Party. In 1920–21 he started experimenting with materials, making constructions from wood and paper that combined the geometry of Suprematism with a more Constructivist concern with actual volumes in space. In ...

Article

Christina Lodder

(Vasil’yevich)

(b Bol’shiye Gorky, province of Vladimir, 1873; d Moscow, 1943).

Russian painter and sculptor. He studied in Kiev and Warsaw in the 1890s and then in Moscow, and initially painted in a Symbolist style (e.g. Portrait of the Artist’s Wife (Consumption), 1910; Athens, George Costakis priv. col., see Rudenstine, p. 141). In 1907 he met Malevich and later joined the Union of Youth group, contributing to their final exhibition in St Petersburg during the winter of 1913–14. At this time Klyun began producing sculptures and reliefs using stylistic devices from Cubism and Futurism. The most dynamic and abstract of these is Rapidly Passing Landscape (1915; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), constructed from painted wood, wire, metal and porcelain. Klyun was in close contact with Malevich from 1913 and signed Malevich’s Suprematist manifesto of December 1915. Klyun later produced Suprematist works, including a series of small paintings (untitled) depicting single geometric forms in various colours on white grounds (c. 1917; Athens, George Costakis priv. col., see Rudenstine, p. 147). In ...

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Moscow, Jan 26, 1898; d Łódź, Feb 21, 1951).

Polish sculptor of Latvian origin. She studied at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Drawing, the second Free Workshops (Svomas), Moscow, 1917–20. In 1920 she moved to Smolensk, and in 1921 she married Władysław Strzemiński. In 1920–22 she was associated with the Vitebsk-based group Unovis. She lived in Poland from 1924, and she belonged to all the Polish Constructivist groups in succession: Block, Praesens, a.r., as well as to the international group Abstraction–Création. All works cited in this article are in the Museum of Art, Łódź. Her earliest pieces are Cubist nude studies. Hanging Constructions (1921–2) are Suprematist kinetic forms suspended in space, called ‘aerostats’, in which tensions in the materials provide movement and vibration. Abstract Sculptures (c. 1924) are multi-element vertical compositions, flat forms with flowing contours and composed in space defined by the cylinder of the base. The series of Spatial Compositions and ...

Article

Charlotte Humphreys

(Yeliseyevich)

(b Olevka, Kherson province, 1886; d Moscow, 1968).

Russian poet and critic of Ukrainian birth. He is best known for his creation of Russian Futurist books between 1912 and 1916 in collaboration with the avant-garde artists Natal’ya Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Kazimir Malevich and Ol’ga Rozanova. These books, some of which were written with Velimir Khlebnikov, are characterized by deliberate mistakes and misprints, bold handwriting or irregular typefaces and printed on differently textured paper or wallpaper. The accompanying illustrations were executed in a coarse and primitive style to match the harsh and dissonant tones of the poetry. The books include Igra v adu (‘A game in Hell’; Moscow, 1912 and 1914), Mirskontsa (‘The world backwards’; Moscow, 1912), Pomada (Moscow, 1913), Utinoye gnezdyshko…durnykh slov (‘A duck’s nest…of bad words’; St Petersburg, 1913), Te Li Le (St Petersburg, 1914), Zaumnaya kniga (‘Transrational book’; Moscow, 1915), Voyna (‘War’; Petrograd, 1915) and Vselenskaya voyna (‘Universal war’; Petrograd, ...

Article

John Milner

[Lisitsky, El’ ; Lisitsky, Lazar’ (Markovich )]

(b Pochinok, Smolensk province, Nov 23, 1890; d Moscow, Dec 30, 1941).

Russian draughtsman, architect, printmaker, painter, illustrator, designer, photographer, teacher, and theorist.

After attending school in Smolensk, he enrolled in 1909 at the Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt, to study architecture and engineering. He also travelled extensively in Europe, however, and he made a tour of Italy to study art and architecture. He frequently made drawings of the architectural monuments he encountered on his travels. These early graphic works were executed in a restrained, decorative style reminiscent of Russian Art Nouveau book illustration. His drawings of Vitebsk and Smolensk (1910; Eindhoven, Stedel. Van Abbemus.), for example, show a professional interest in recording specific architectural structures and motifs, but they are simultaneously decorative graphic works in their own right and highly suitable for publication. This innate awareness of the importance of controlling the design of the page was to remain a feature of Lissitzky’s work throughout radical stylistic transformations. He also recorded buildings in Ravenna, Venice, and elsewhere in Italy in ...

Article

Troels Andersen

(Severinovich)

(b Kiev, Feb 26, 1878; d Leningrad [now St Petersburg], May 15, 1935).

Russian painter, printmaker, decorative artist and writer of Ukranian birth. One of the pioneers of abstract art, Malevich was a central figure in a succession of avant-garde movements during the period of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917 and immediately after. The style of severe geometric abstraction with which he is most closely associated, Suprematism (see fig.), was a leading force in the development of Constructivism, the repercussions of which continued to be felt throughout the 20th century. His work was suppressed in Soviet Russia in the 1930s and remained little known during the following two decades. The reassessment of his reputation in the West from the mid-1950s was matched by the renewed influence of his work on the paintings of Ad Reinhardt and on developments such as Zero, Hard-edge painting and Minimalism.

Article

John E. Bowlt

(Stakhiyevich)

(b Novocherkassk, Oct 22, 1883; d Moscow, Oct 24, 1946).

Russian illustrator and poster artist. He had no formal training as an artist and started working as an amateur illustrator in 1908 for the satirical newspaper Budil’nik, to which he contributed regularly until 1917. Influenced by the Jugendstil caricatures of Thomas Heine and the Simplicissimus group, Moor quickly demonstrated his mastery of line and sense of subtle irony, as in the cartoons Representative of the People (1913) and The Liberal (1915; see Kozlov, p. [17]).

Moor’s career as a caricaturist and poster artist began just after the October Revolution of 1917, when he produced numerous satires on the White Army, the Capitalist blockade, the Church and other topics, many of which have become famous. Drawn in a crisp and simple style, sometimes in black and white, sometimes brightly coloured, Moor’s posters are reminiscent of lubki (cheap, handcoloured broadsheets, see Lubok) and, like them, communicate the message immediately and clearly (e.g. a ...

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Sergeyevich)

(b Saratov, April 1, 1884; d Leningrad (now St Petersburg), July 16, 1953).

Russian architect, teacher, draughtsman and printmaker. He entered the architecture faculty of the Institute of Civil Engineers, St Petersburg, in 1902, graduating in 1912, after student radicalism closed the Institute in 1905–7. His gold medal prize was a year’s travel in Italy, studying Byzantine architecture and mosaics under the guidance of his teacher Vasily Kosyakov (1862–1921), with whom he later collaborated on a number of churches. After the 1917 Revolution he was mainly employed in railway reconstruction, then urban planning and workers’ housing improvement. He also taught at the Institute of Civil Engineers, where he pioneered a freer, more exploratory architectural curriculum. While attending Ginkhuk (Rus.: State Institute of Artistic Culture), an affiliate of Inkhuk in Moscow, he met Malevich’s pupil, Lazar’ Khidekel (1904–86). The influence of Suprematism, particularly in his collaborations with Khidekel, is visible in many compositions of the 1920s.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, Nikolsky was the leading Modernist working in comparatively traditionalist Leningrad. His adherence to the ‘working method’ of the Constructivists was modified by a greater insistence on form as a legitimate generator of a building design in its own right. Where the Moscow Modernists were sharply split between Constructivist and Nikolay Ladovsky’s Rationalist approaches, Nikolsky’s approach, and the characteristic Leningrad attitude that owed much to him, were essentially a synthesis of these two....

Article

Christina Lodder

(Sergeyevna)

(b Ivanovskoye, nr Moscow, April 24, 1889; d Moscow, May 25, 1924).

Russian painter and designer. She was born into a wealthy family and trained as a teacher before beginning her artistic studies with Stanislav Zhukovsky (1873–1944) and Konstantin Yuon. Their influence, particularly through their interest in luminous tonalities reminiscent of Impressionism, can be seen in early works by Popova such as Still-life with Basket of Fruit (1907–8; Athens, George Costakis Col.; see Rudenstine, pl. 725). Popova travelled extensively: in Kiev (1909) she was very impressed by the religious works of Mikhail Vrubel’; in Italy (1910) she admired Renaissance art, especially the paintings of Giotto. Between 1910 and 1911 she toured many parts of Russia, including Suzdal’, Novgorod, Yaroslavl’ and Pskov. Inspired by Russian architecture, frescoes and icons, she developed a less naturalistic approach. A more crucial influence was the first-hand knowledge of Cubism that she gained in Paris, which she visited with Nadezhda Udal’tsova during the winter of ...

Article

Christina Lodder

[Puni, Ivan (Al’bertovich)]

(b Kouokkala, Finland [now Repino, St Petersburg Region, Russia], Feb 22, 1892; d Paris, Dec 28, 1956).

Russian painter, illustrator and designer, active in France. He was educated at the gymnasium and then at the military academy in St Petersburg. Between 1909 and 1912 he visited Italy and France. In Paris he studied at the Académie Julian and stayed with his compatriot, the artist Yury Annenkov. He became friendly with Osip Zadkine and other Russian artists and began to experiment with Fauvism and early Cubism. Very few paintings remain from this period, although Walk in the Sun (1912; Zurich, M. et Mme Berninger priv. col., see Berninger and Cartier, vol. i, p. 31), painted after he returned to Russia, indicates an interest in expressive colour, surface texture and perspectival distortions.

On his return to St Petersburg, Pougny was introduced by Nikolay Kul’bin into avant-garde circles, and he exhibited with the Union of Youth group in the winters of 1911–12 and 1913–14. Breaking with them in January 1914...

Article

Myroslava M. Mudrak

(Mykolayovych)

(b Kholm, Sept 15, 1897; d Moscow, Feb 18, 1956).

Ukrainian painter and theorist. He was apprenticed in the workshop for icon-painting in Kiev (1910–14). In 1913 he studied with Fyodor Rerberg (1865–1938) in Moscow and in 1914–18 attended the School for the Advancement of Art in Petrograd (now St Petersburg). Returning to Kiev in 1918, he studied at the Ukrainian Academy of Art and Alexandra Exter’s decorative arts workshop, and he took part in designing revolutionary street decorations. In Zrachki solntsa he gave an eyewitness account of life in Kiev during the years after the fall of the Russian empire. He spent the 1920s and 1930s in Moscow and in Paris, where he was a member of the Parisian Group of Ukrainian Artists. In 1920–22 he studied in Moscow at Vkhutemas (Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops) under Vasily Kandinsky, and he developed a synthesis of Cubist, Suprematist and Constructivist tendencies. As a reaction to the depersonalized character of ...