The Russian avant-garde

23 October 2013

The term Russian avant-garde (Русский Авангард) defines the large and influential wave of modern art that flourished in Russia in the first part of the 20th century. A lot of art movements emerged at the time. Those styles were separate and different, although inextricably related.

The first hints of a new style taking over came when painters got rid of the realism that reigned during the 19th century. Thus, a new artistic style, neo-primitivism, emerged. Mikhail Larionov (Михаил Ларионов) and his wife Natalia Goncharova (Наталья Гончарова) were the most famous exponents of this movement. Their paintings stand out for being “new”, but at the same time having an eye on the past.

A complete split from the past originated with Futurism: the group was mostly composed of young people from the province, with a new fresh view on art and society. The term futurism concerns poetry, visual arts and music. The most famous poet was undeniably Vladimir Mayakovsky (Владимир Маяковский), and his poems about the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg are still well remembered.

The Russian avant-garde reached its creative and popular peak in the period between the October Revolution and 1930. During those years, the new-born government supported styles like constructivism, a movement with the aim of creating pieces of arts that could be useful to society.

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