Alongside the glitz of Fabergé at the Sainsbury Centre, Radical Russia takes a look at the transformation of art in the 20th century
...and the Reds at RAF Neatishead!
THE KEY role art played in Russian society will be explained in The Russia Season: Royal
Faberge and Radical Russia at the Sainsbury Centre. The exhibition will show how the avant-garde movement transformed Russian art and culture and will include paintings, sculpture, books, ceramics, furniture, games, costume and objects relating to everything from theatre to architecture and urban planning, spanning the period 1905 to 1930.
Art played a vital part in Russian society during the 19th century, with great writers and painters using their works to put important social issues in front of the public. Highlights of the exhibition will include paintings by Malevich, designs by El Lissitzky and Tatlin and ceramics from a number of countries.
It will include pieces produced in the early years of the 20th century, showing the way in which the new Russian modern art included specifically Russian themes, especially relating to the peasantry.
The exhibition will examine how artists such as Natalia Goncharova turned to abstract forms, even as she continued to refer to the deeply symbolic Russian landscape in works such as Forest (1913).
It will also include Kazimir Malevich’s striking geometrical work, Red Square, Wassily Kandinsky’s Improvisation 19 (1911), Alexandra Exter’s Still Life (1914) and Mikhail Larionov’s Sketch of a tree (c.1911), displaying the energy and vigour of Russian painting in the dying years of Tsarism.
Much of pre-revolutionary radical Russian culture was anarchic and subversive and the exhibition will include some of the startling books published by the avant-garde before 1917. Tango with
Cows, Vasily Kamenskii’s book of ‘ferroconcrete’ poetry, is printed on flowered wallpaper, while Alexei Kruchenykh’s
Game in Hell includes a terrifying demonic image by Goncharova on its cover.
The exhibition will include a wide variety of objects, ranging from suprematist ceramics which used revolutionary symbolism, to book covers which exemplify the unity between the written word and the visual arts.
A centrepiece to the exhibition will be a dramatic model of Tatlin’s Tower which will be situated in the sculpture park outside the Sainsbury Centre. Conceived by Vladimir Tatlin as the headquarters and monument to the Third International, this was intended to straddle the river Neva in St Petersburg at a height of 400m. It was never built but its impact on subsequent architects and designers is considerable. www.scva.ac.uk
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Two books are being released to coincide with the SVCA Russia season by curators Ian Collins and Peter Waldron. There is a launch event at Jarrold in Norwich on Tuesday, October 17, 6.30pm; tickets from www.jarrold.co.uk
El Lissitzky: The four fundamental ways of arithmetic. Collection Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.