Alexandra Exter

1882-1949

Alexandra Exter was an innovative abstract expressionist painter and designer who worked in a variety of styles and is considered to be one of the most experimental woman of the avant-garde. She was active in constructivism, a movement founded by artists who were interested in finding new ways to make art a part of everyday life. She also was interested creating artwork that was functional.

Exter studied art at Kiev from 1901-1907. She associated with the intellectual elite of Kiev and Paris and counted the leading Russian painters, writers, and musicians among her friends. Exter traveled widely, and it was in Paris where she had her first exhibit in 1912.

In 1916, she was painting in the style of abstractionism. She was drawing stage scenery and theatrical costumes and winning international recognition. Her theatrical sets were experimental with unique spatial structures. Exter designed a “synthetic theater” in which all the elements – scenery, costumes, performance, and music – blended in a dynamic whole. Her experimental designs also made their way into puppet designs.

In 1920, she left Kiev and moved to Moscow where she married for the second time. In 1921, she joined the Constructivist movement. In 1924, she moved to France and taught drawing and scenography at Fernand Leger’s Academie d’Art Contemporain. In 1936, she was in an exhibition “Cubism and Abstract Art” in New York.

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