Rad­i­cal Rus­sia

Along­side the glitz of Fabergé at the Sains­bury Cen­tre, Rad­i­cal Rus­sia takes a look at the trans­for­ma­tion of art in the 20th cen­tury

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...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


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.

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