Natalia Goncharova

1881-1962

Natalia Goncharov was a Russian avant-garde artist, painter, costume and set designer. She trained as a sculptor but turned to painting in 1904, attracted and influenced by Russian folk art.  Her art imitated the flat colors and simplified forms of this folk art.

Goncharova was born in central Russia in 1881 and studied at the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture.  In 1900, she met the artist Michael Larionov who became her life-long companion.  In 1910, she travelled to Paris where she and and Larionov became heavily involved in Russian avant-garde circles. Together they evolved a neo-primitive style that was favored by the Russian avant-garde artists in the years before the war.

Between 1910-1914 Goncharova created several important works with religious connotations.  These were stylized paintings with backdrops of vivid landscapes and were connected to the Russian tradition of icon painting.

Moving on from her interest in icons and folk art, she adopted elements of Futurism into her paintings and in 1911 joined the Der Blaue Reiter group.  She used splintered geometric shapes and repetitions to convey movement in her paintings.

By 1913, Goncharov – along with Larionov – had turned her attention to a more abstract style, heavily influenced by Italian Futurism and French Cubism.  Together they evolved a style known as Rayonnism.  In 1914, they travelled together to Paris to design costumes for Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russe.  Goncharova and Larionov never returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution and remained in Paris for the rest of their lives.

Goncharova’s work can be found in the public collections of various museums, including MoMA, Tate, LACMA, Guggenheim, Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

More here.

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