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Russian and Soviet Views of Modern Western Art, 1890s to Mid-1930s

Ilia Dorontchenkov (Editor), Charles Rougle (Translator)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 368 pages
ISBN: 9780520253728
June 2009
$34.95, £28.00
From the first Modernist exhibitions in the late 1890s to the Soviet rupture with the West in the mid-1930s, Russian artists and writers came into wide contact with modern European art and ideas. Introducing a wealth of little-known material set in an illuminating interpretive context, this sourcebook presents Russian and Soviet views of Western art during this critical period of cultural transformation. The writings document complex responses to these works and ideas before the Russians lost contact with them almost entirely. Many of these writings have been unavailable to foreign readers and, until recently, were not widely known even to Russian scholars. Both an important reference and a valuable resource for classrooms, the book includes an introductory essay and shorter introductions to the individual sections.


I Facing Europe: Impressions, Contacts, and Criticisms
1 Mark Antokol’skii, “Notes on Art” (1897)
2 Igor’ Grabar’, “Decline or Renaissance? A Survey of Contemporary Trends in Art” (1897)
3 Vladimir Stasov, Nineteenth-Century Art: Painting (1901)
4 Vasily Kandinsky, “An Artist’s Text” (1918)
5 Andrei Belyi, At the Turn of the Century (1930)
6 Pavel Muratov, “On Grand Art” (1907)
7 Sergei Diaghilev [and Dmitrii Filosofov], “The Bases of Artistic Judgment” (1899)
8 Sergei Diaghilev, “European Exhibitions and Russian Painters” (1896)
9 Sergei Diaghilev, “The Exhibition in Helsingfors” (1899)
10 Vladimir Stasov, “Exhibitions” (1898)
11 Grigorii Miasoedov, Letter to Vladimir Stasov (1898)
12 Vladimir Stasov, “The Court of Miracles” (1899)
13 Igor’ Grabar’, “Around European Exhibitions” (1904)
14 Vasily Kandinsky, “A Letter from Munich” (1909–10)

Western Influences: Symbolism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism,and the “Golden Fleece” Exhibitions

15 Ivan Konevskoi, “Böcklin’s Painting” (1900)
16 Alexandre Benois, “Maurice Denis” (1901)
17 Igor’ Grabar’, “Around Europe” (1902)
18 Alexandre Benois, “An Artist’s Conversations: 1. On Impressionism” (1899)
19 Igor’ Grabar’, “Around Europe: Letters on Contemporary Art” (1902)
20 Georgii Plekhanov, “The Proletarian Movement and Bourgeois Art” (1905)
21 Stepan Iaremich, “The Autumn Salon” (1904)
22 Alexandre Shervashidze, “Cézanne” (1905)
23 Maksimilian Voloshin, “Aspirations of the New French Painting” (1908)
24 Petr Konchalovskii, Letters from Paris to Il’ia Mashkov (1908)
25 Pavel Muratov, The “Golden Fleece Salon” (1908)
26 Igor’ Grabar’, “Moscow Exhibitions” (1909)

Matisse, Picasso, and the Shchukin and Morozov Collections

27 Iakov Tugendkhol’d, “S. I. Shchukin’s French Collection” (1914)
28 Natalia Severova [Nordman], Intimate Pages (1910)
29 Vasilii Kamenskii, “KARTINiia” (1914)
30 Sergei Makovskii, “French Artists in the Morozov Collection” (1912)
31 Boris Ternovets, “The Museum of Modern Western Art in Moscow (The Morozov Section)” (1922–23)
32 Nikolai Breshko-Breshkovskii, “The Salon” (1910)
33 Alexandre Benois, “The ‘Salon’ and Bakst’s School” (1910)
34 Il’ia Repin, “The Izdebsky Salon” (1910)
35 Iakov Tugendkhol’d, “The Autumn Salon” (1910)
36 Boris Ternovets, Letter to Nadezhda Shamshina (1911)
37 Alexandre Benois, “Moscow Impressions” (1911)
38 Boris Bugaev [Andrei Belyi], “Stamped Culture” (1909)
39 Boris Anrep, “Apropos of an Exhibition in London with Participating Russian Artists” (1913)
40 Alexandre Benois, “More on New Trends in Art” (1912)
41 S. Khudakov, “Literature, Art Criticism, Debates, and Lectures” (1913)
42 Sergei Bulgakov, “Beauty’s Corpse (Apropos of Picasso’s Paintings)” (1915)
43 Ivan Aksenov, Picasso and the Environs (1917)

Cubism and Futurism

44 E. Dmitriev, “What Is Cubism?” (1912)
45 Iakov Tugendkhol’d, “A Letter from Paris” (1912)
46 Georgii Plekhanov, “Art and Social Life” (1912)
47 David Burliuk, “Cubism (Surface—Plane)” (1912)
48 Nadezhda Udal’tsova, Diary (1912–13)
49 Mikhail Matiushin, “On Du Cubisme, by Metzinger and Gleizes” (1913)
50 Aleksandr Shevchenko, The Principles of Cubism and Other Currents in Painting from All Ages and Nations (1913)
51 Nikolai Kulbin, “Cubism” (1915)
52 Kazimir Malevich, “On New Systems in Art: Statics and Speed” (1919)
53 Nikolai Punin, “Escapes from Cubism” (1923)
54 Sillart, “Boccioni’s Futurist Sculpture Exhibition” (1913)
55 Genrikh Tasteven, Futurism: Toward a New Symbolism (1914)
56 Velimir Khlebnikov and Benedikt Livshits, “On Marinetti’s Visit to Russia” (1914)
57 Nikolai Berdiaev, The Crisis in Art (1918)
58 R. Ia. [Roman Jakobson] “Futurism” (1919)
V Art and Nationality: Polemics and Reactions
59 Sergei Makovskii, “Art Survey” (1910)
60 Iakov Tugendkhol’d, “The ‘Russian Seasons’ in Paris” (1910)
61 Alexandre Benois, “Icons and the New Art” (1913)
62 David Burliuk, “The Noisy ‘Benois’ and the New Russian National Art” (1913)
63 Natal’ia Goncharova [Il’ia Zdanevich], Foreword to the Goncharova exhibition catalogue (1913)
64 Aleksei Grishchenko, On the Ties of Russian Painting to Byzantium and the West, 13th–20th Century: Thoughts of an Artist (1913)
65 Mikhail Le Dantiu, “The Painting of the Everythingists” (1914)
66 Georgii Iakulov, Benedikt Livshits, and Artur Lourie, “We and the West” (1914)
67 Vladimir Mayakovsky, “Russia. Art. We” (1914)


VI The International of Art and the Great Utopia

68 Klara Zetkin, Reminiscences of Lenin (1924)
69 Aleksandr Bogdanov, “Our Critique. Essay One: On the Artistic Heritage” (1918)
70 Vladimir Friche, “The Art of the Labor Commune” (1918)
71 Decree of the Soviet of People’s Commissars on the Nationalization of the Sergei Shchukin Art Gallery (1918)
72 Pavel Muratov, “The Museum of Western Art in Moscow” (1920)
73 Vasily Kandinsky, “The Museum of the Culture of Painting” (1920)
74 Varvara Stepanova, Diary Entry (1919)
75 Nikolai Punin, “The Third International” (1919)
76 Konstantin Krainii [Umanskii], “The International of Art (The Tasks Confronting the International Union of Fine Arts Workers)” (1919)
77 Vasily Kandinsky, “The Great Utopia” (1920)
78 IZO (1921)
79 Abram Efros, “We and the West” (1920)
80 Nikolai Punin, Tatlin (Against Cubism) (1921)
81 Jansen, “On the Exchange of Art Exhibitions with Western Europe” (1921)
82 Boris Arvatov, “Toward Proletarian Art” (1922)
83 Pavel Muratov, “Predictions” (1922)
84 Vasilii Chekrygin, “On the Emerging New Phase of All-European Art” (1922)
85 Viktor Perelman, “From the Wanderers to Heroic Realism” (1923)
86 Nikolai Punin, “A Response to French Artists” (1924)
87 Iakov Tugendkhol’d, “Once Again on French Artists and Us” (1924)
88 Nikolai Punin, “The USSR and French Artists” (1924)
VI I New Visions of Western Art
89 R. Ia. [Roman Jakobson], “Letters from the West: Dada” (1921)
90 El [Lazar Lissitsky], “Exhibitions in Berlin” (1922)
91 Leon Trotsky, “Futurism” (1923)
92 Vladimir Mayakovsky, “A Seven-Day Inspection of French Painting” (1923)
93 Aleksandr Rodchenko, “Rodchenko in Paris: Letters Home” (1927)
94 Iakov Tugendkhol’d, The Artistic Culture of the West (1928)
95 Ia. T-d [Iakov Tugendkhol’d], “The Art of Contemporary America” (1928)

Expressionism and George Grosz

96 Vladimir Weidlé, “Notes on Western Painting: 1. The End of Expressionism” (1923)
97 Boris Arvatov, “Expressionism as a Social Phenomenon: Apropos of Eckart v[on] Sydow, Die deutsche expressionistische Kultur und Maleri (Berlin, 1920)” (1922)
98 Nikolai Radlov, “Introduction” to Georg Marzinski’s The Expressionist Method in Painting (1923)
99 Nikolai Tarabukin, “Apropos of the German Art Exhibition” (1924)
100 Osip Brik, “Ecce Homo” (1923)
101 Abram Efros, “George Grosz” (1923)
102 Viktor Pertsov, “Foreword” to the Russian translation of George Grosz and Wieland Herzfelde’s Art Is in Danger: Three Essays (1926)
103 Anatolii Lunacharskii, “Art Is in Danger” (1926)
IX Creating a Model for Revolutionary Art
104 Aleksei Fedorov-Davydov, “On the New Realism in Connection with Western European Trends in Art” (1925)
105 Abram Efros, “Revolutionary Art of the West (The State Academy of Artistic Sciences Exhibition)” (1926)
106 Ivan Matsa (János Mácza), The Art of Contemporary Europe (1926)
107 Anatolii Lunacharskii, “Discussion on AKhRR” (1926)
108 Emelian Iaroslavskii, “Against Leftist Phrase Mongering and Careless Criticism (Apropos of Comrade A. Kurella’s Article)” (1928)
109 Alfred Kurella, “From ‘Russia’s Revolutionary Art’ to Proletarian Art: Responses and Questions for the Critics” (1928)
110 Aleksei Mikhailov, “Diego Rivera” (1929)
111 Aleksei Fedorov-Davydov, “Militant Art: John Heartfield, Proletarian Artist” (1932)

Changing Views of Western Art

112 Boris Ternovets, “The Contemporary French Art Exhibition in Moscow” (1928)
113 Ts. Plotkin, “The French in Moscow” (1928)
114 Nikolai Punin, Vladimir Vasil’evich Lebedev (1928)
115 Sergei Romov, “From Dada to Surrealism: On Painting, Literature, and the French Intelligentsia” (1929)
116 Sergei Romov, “Contemporary French Painting” (1929)
117 Frida Roginskaia, “Against the Cult of the French” (1930)
118 Ivan Matsa, “To the Highest Level!” (1931)
119 Aleksei Mikhailov, “Comrade Bogorodskii’s Trip Abroad” (1931)
120 Dmitrii Lebedev, “The Museum of Modern Western Painting Must Live!” (1930)
121 Osip Mandelstam, “A Journey to Armenia: The French” (1933)
122 D. Melnikov, “Cézanne and Cézannism” (1921)
123 David Arkin, “R[obert] Fal’k and Moscow Painting” (1923)
124 Nikolai Tarabukin, “The Still Life as a Problem of Style” (1928)
125 Nikolai Punin, “Mikhail Larionov’s Impressionist Period” (1928)
126 Amshei Niurenberg, “The Pissarro Exhibition: Letter from Paris” (1929)
127 Aleksandr Severdenko, “Response to an Impressionist” (1929)
128 Anatolii Lunacharskii, “The Painter of Happiness: On Viewing Renoir’s Canvases” (1933)

The End of an Era

129 Polikarp Lebedev, “Against Formalism in Soviet Art” (1936)
130 Nina Iavorskaia, “An Eyewitness Account of the Closing of the Museum of Modern Western Art” (1988)

List of Acronyms
Select Bibliography
List of Illustrations
Ilia Dorontchenkov is Professor at the Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts and at the European University in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has also taught in the Department of Slavic Languages at Brown University.
“Dorontchenkov presents the English-speaking reader with a great throng of opinionated Russian museum visitors as they react to Western painting. . . . Thoughtfully arranged and annotated, this collection of reviews, polemics and excerpts from private letters reconstructs this history in all its creative turbulence and contradictoriness.”—Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
“”Highly recommended. . . . A basis for well-informed art history and its social history in Russia.”—Patricia Railing Journal Of Incorm
“This is a thoughtfully composed volume, informative and compelling, a delight to read.”—Layla Bloom The Art Book

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