Indepth Arts News: |
"Amazons of the Avant-Garde: Alexandra
Exter, Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova,
Olga Rozanova, Varvara Stepanova,"
2000-09-08 until 2001-01-07
New York, NY,
The exhibition focuses on 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. It will
feature more than 70 paintings and works on paper,
which have been drawn from more than 30 public and
private collections, including 16 Russian regional
museums. Many of these works are being shown for
the first time in the West. Structured around surveys
of each of the artists' discrete but related oeuvres,
the exhibition will trace the evolution of modern
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. This drive led the
artists to develop original, independent modes of
working within the fine and applied arts.
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
Exter, Goncharova, Popova, Rozanova, Stepanova,
and Udaltsova did not necessarily formulate or
champion the same 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.
Organization: The exhibition is co-curated by John E.
Bowlt, University of Southern California, Los Angeles;
Matthew Drutt, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,
New York; and Zelfira Tregulova, independent
Exhibition Tour: Organized by the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum for Deutsche Guggenheim
Berlin, where it opened to critical acclaim in July 1999,
the exhibition will travel to the Royal Academy of
Arts, London, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection,
Venice, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Its
final presentation will be at the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Publication: The exhibition is accompanied by a fully
illustrated catalogue, 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. It
will be available in German, English, and Italian.
Funding: The international tour of this exhibition is
made possible by Deutsche Bank.