From the Archives

Amazons of the Avant-Garde

Amazons of the Avant-Garde

Contributions by Natalia Adaskina, John E. Bowlt, Charlotte Douglas, Matthew Drutt, Ekaterina Dyogot, Laura Engelstein, Nina Gurianova, Georgii Kovalenko, Alexander Lavrentiev, Olga Matich, Nicoletta Misler, Vasilii Rakitin, Dmitrii Sarabianov, and Jane A. Sharp
Published in 1999
366 pages, fully illustrated
English, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish editions

Amazons of the Avant-Garde presents work by six Russian women who contributed to the development of modern art in the first quarter of the 20th century: Alexandra Exter, Natalia Goncharova, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, Varvara Stepanova, and Nadezhda Udaltsova. The catalogue includes several essays that discuss the hindrances and influences affecting women in Russian avant-garde art circles. In addition, each artist featured in the exhibition is individually discussed at length, along with biographical timelines and excerpts of their writings from letters and publications. Color reproductions of the works in the exhibition accompany the essays to form a cohesive illustration of the art world in Russia during the first decades of the 20th century and the women who changed the aesthetic canons of their time. 


Is Russian art history, as seen from the point of view suggested by the lives and practices of these women artists, sharply different from the male experience? Not very. They participated in the same historic exhibitions, sought the same kinds of success. Perhaps greater weight should be given to their work in stage design. Exeter, Goncharova, Popova, and Stepanova are all responsible for notable innovations in the theater. And textile design plays a greater role in their artistic profiles that in the male paradigm. Collectively, they had more experience in Western Europe that the men in the movement, although it is clear that their greatest opportunities came at home, during World War I and the Russian Civil War.

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