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"Amazons of the Avant-Garde"
1999-07-10 until 1999-10-17
Guggenheim Museum, Berlin
Berlin, , DE Germany

From July 10 to October 17, 1999, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin will present Amazons of the Avant-Garde, an exhibition featuring the work of six Russian women who, in the first quarter of the twentieth century, made significant contributions to the development of modern art: Alexandra Exter, Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, Varvara Stepanova, and Nadezhda Udaltsova. The exhibition will feature more than 70 paintings and works on paper, which have been drawn from over 30 public and private collections, including 16 Russian regional museums. Many of these works are being shown for the first time in the West. Organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin, the exhibition will travel to the Royal Academy of Arts, London; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

The Guggenheim Museum has an illustrious history in collecting and presenting the art of the Russian avant-garde, said Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. This exhibition brings together some of the most distinguished masterpieces of the period, and offers a fresh and insightful approach to the subject. We are grateful to Deutsche Bank for its unwavering support of this project, as well as its sponsorship of the exhibitions international tour. Deutsche Bank has had a long involvement with the art and culture of Russia, said Dr. Rolf-E. Breuer, Chairman of Deutsche Bank. With this exhibition, we are proud to be able to present the innovative achievements of the Russian avant-garde in a new and exciting light. This is work of the highest order, for it provides not only pleasure but intellectual stimulation. While the remarkable aesthetic achievements of the early twentieth-century Russian avant-garde have been well-documented in recent years, one essential component still remains to be recognized: the unprecedented number of women artists actively involved in the movement. Never before in the history of Western art had women played so vital a role in the formation of a radical cultural enterprise, one that redefined traditional aesthetic values and remapped age-old divisions between art and life. The six artists featured in this exhibition all shared what one of them, Olga Rozanova, described as a drive to discover wholly new bases of artistic creation. In so doing, each developed an original, independent style that broke new ground in the fine and applied arts. Structured around surveys of each of the artists discrete but related oeuvres, the exhibition will trace the evolution of modern Russian art. The art of the Russian avant-garde flourished from the turn of the century through the mid-1930s and was one of the most vital and prolific chapters in the history of modern art. The range of invention and artistic practices represented by the different movements and schools that emerged under its aegis remains unparalleled today. Russian art of the early twentieth century was informed both by an assimilation of European vanguard ideas such as Dada, Futurism, and Cubism and by indigenous traditions such as folk and primitive art. Moreover, Russian modernism was inherently non-hierarchical, with many artists exploring ideas in painting at the same time they were involved with design for the applied arts, theater, film, fashion, and the graphic arts. Exter, Goncharova, Popova, Rozanova, Stepanova, and Udaltsova rarely formulated or championed particular social and political ideologies. Just as the Russian avant-garde was a collection of disparate styles and viewpoints, these artists were of different philosophical schools and had different social aspirations and aesthetic convictions. What united them was their support for the idea of cultural renewal and their rejection of what they considered to be outmoded aesthetic canons. The exhibition is co-curated by John E. Bowlt, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Zelfira Tregulova, independent curator, Moscow; and Matthew Drutt, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. The catalogue is edited by John E. Bowlt and Matthew Drutt and features essays by Natalia Adaskina, Charlotte Douglas, Ekaterina Dyogot, Laura Engelstein, Nina Gurianova, Georgii Kovalenko, Alexander Lavrentiev, Olga Matich, Nicoletta Misler, Vasilii Rakitin, Dmitrii Sarabianov, and Jane Sharp. Fully illustrated, it will be available in German, English, and Italian for a price of DM 59. The Deutsche Guggenheim Berlins Edition No. 8 presents a sporting dress based on an ink drawing by Varvara Stepanova in 1923. In a limited number of 300 pieces a workout suit for the 21st Century has been manufactured. Using the most modern functional materials as Lycra Power adidas produced the exclusive Edition for the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin. In conjunction with Amazons of the Avante-Garde the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin introduces a series of films about the Russian avant-garde starting on August 27, 1999 in the Arsenal Cinema. Amazons of the Avant-Garde in the Cinema, which was specially compiled for the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin by the Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek e. V. Berlin, presents avant-garde films featuring the actress Alexandra Khokhlova, montages by Esfir Schub and Jellsaveta Svilova, as well as a hitherto unknown film by Lilja Brik. Jakov Protasanovs science fiction film Aelita, made in 1926 with space costumes by Alexandra Exter, is also part of the program. Please look at the brochure for the detailed information on the extensive supporting program of the exhibition.

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