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Author Topic: Russian Avant-garde  (Read 3613 times)
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FreakAnimalFinland
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« on: January 15, 2010, 07:44:42 PM »

By nothing but accident, I happened to get my hands to Venäläistä Avantgardea George Costakisin Kokoelmasta / Ryskt Avatgarde Ur George Costakis Samling -book (in english: Russian Avantrgarde from collection of George Costakis ). Just saw it laying around in big pile of russian art books in local antique/2nd hand book dealer. Thought price was not bad, so lets take it, but didn't realise I would actually be as interested as I was. Published in Finland back 1984 in support of first large scale russian avantgarde exhibition. First actual exhibition of his collection was at late 70's and basically before that whole movement had remained pretty obscure when access to artworks had been so limited. You can read more about Costakis:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Costakis
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by chance discovered some constructivist paintings in a Moscow studio in 1946, and he went on to search for the revolutionary art which might otherwise have been lost to the world. This collection was to become the most representative body of Modern Russian avant-garde art anywhere at that time
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Book covers (unfortunately just b/w images) of Constructivism, Russian Futurism, Cubo-Futurism, Suprematism, and few other things. Paintings, drawings, doodles/scetches. Some photos of sculptures and slighly 3D collages. It introduces the key figures and end of book many of the others are introduces with brief history of their role in movement, their education/background etc. There are curious moments during the history of movement, how quick changes and motivations in very hardline theory/practise happened. Some moving from constructivism to sheer industrial design, conflict of theories with several of these groups.

One can easily see the connection to experimental sound. And actually reading the theoretical side of art seems kind of suitable also for avantgarde art. During times of Lenin, some of the movements had been very interested to offer the new art for new socialist order and it is relatively amusing to see how it backfired under totalitarian iron fist of Stalin, due socialist realism became the route.

I have very much the love/hate relationship with subject of abstract art, but it pretty interesting to go through these very early stages & birth of movement.
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Andrew McIntosh
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2010, 11:55:09 PM »

http://tars.rollins.edu/Foreign_Lang/Russian/frame4.html

And Malevich would be among my favourite modernist painters. I've taken his famous square and used it as a personal symbol a few times. Finding a decent book in English featuring his work has not been easy; the best I have is one of the Cameo/Abrams "Great Modern Masters" books.

Andre Breton wrote a denunciation of the oppression of Russian modern artists under the sots. regime in Russia after a visit, and ended up writing a manifesto with Trotsky who was in exile at the time http://www.generation-online.org/c/fcsurrealism1.htm
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FreakAnimalFinland
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2012, 01:55:31 PM »

Have a certain respect for Breton. A real dictator, and it took him a while to get over communism (I think it was a visit to the soviet union that turned him)

That quote is from the Surrealism topic, but was good reason to dig up this couple years old topic.

Been reading in couple last days this book published in 1978 by Kansankulttuuri Kustantamo (political publisher solely dedicated for socialist & marxist material, operated by political parties near Soviet vision and SF/CCCP friendship organization), called SYDÄMELLÄ VALLANKUMOUSTA KUUNNELLEN : LOKAKUUN VALLANKUMOUKSEN ENSI VUOSIEN KUVATAIDETTA  (Listening Revolution with your heart: Early years art of october revolution). I don't think this version exists in other languages(?), but on subject matter you will find more titles.

Like name says, it has very good introduction for very unique moment in history, when revolution took advantage or art - and art took advantage of revolution, to create something that had been never seen. All the new avantgarde movements were still fresh and innovative. Rayonism, cubo-futurism, konstrutionism, various groups, propaganda makers, explanation of systematic use of art for propaganda purposes, trains with paintings on them traveling to distant smaller cities to awake awareness and attention, daily and weekly changing art-posters placed in now empty shop windows, fragile and weird status and sculptures made from concrete or plaster - since all the costly and strong materials were impossible to find. Art was made for the people, for the proletarian mass, with each new sculpture exposed together with political speeches and agitation. People would react on this previously unseen form of new art and create new atmosphere of people discussing about meaning of all this. Big part of this early art is simply lost in history. It was not made to last, but it had real purpose to exists. Other works became notable parts of art history.
Even if one would dislike what communism was about, the ability to use art and the dynamics of the revolution resulted something what simply can't be replicated in welfare state in modern times of abundance. Not all the material is actually "communist" material. Avantgarde pre-existed the revolution, and many left the country, some took advantage of new system, some didn't. In the works can be found some greatness, which doesn't rise from wealth, success, recognition and opportunities, but simply out of poverty, miserable conditions, fear and near by lurking death - all purged by flame of inspiration and idealism.

Not the same thing as the book mentioned, but for those who know little of subject, some examples:
http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/slavic/theater/index3.html
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