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Natalia Goncharova First Time in London

Natalia Goncharova, Gardening,1908, Tate, London

Women Artists

Natalia Goncharova First Time in London

We couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift for Natalia Goncharova: a month before her birthday Tate Modern in London is presenting the first retrospective of her work in the UK ever. The exhibition opens on June, 6th.

Natalia Goncharova, Young Man with a Goatee, 1907, private collection

The date of her birth might be confusing, some say 21st June, others 3rd of July but we must remember that in Russia the Julian calendar was in use until 1918 and that’s the cause of confusion.

Natalia Goncharova, Orange Vendor, Spain, 1916, Museum Ludwig, Cologne Germany

Goncharova equals eclectism. She began studying sculpture at the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (where her father had studied before), when she met her love Mikhail Larionov she turned to painting, then when she came across Sergei Diaghilev’s, she was asked to design costumes and backdrops for his Ballet Russes in France. Eclectic was also her style, which combined Russian and Asian folk art, Oriental elements, Cubism… She admitted that when she went to France, “they [the contemporary French artists] opened my eyes to the great importance and value of my country’s art, and by extension, of Oriental art as well.” Moreover, her iconography was eclectic, too: she held dear Russian Orthodox icons but also profane themes of a simple peasant life.

Natalia Goncharova, The Cyclist, 1913, The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Although she was bron into a well-off family, she spent most of her childhood on her granny’s estate in the countryside. The family moved to Moscow when the girl was ten because her father was going through financial troubles and was hoping for better prospects in a bigger city.

Natalia Goncharova in London
Natalia Goncharova, Four Evangelists, 1911, The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Goncharova- the artist made a prosperous career quite early: it was Diaghilev who invited both Larionov and Goncharova to exhibit in Paris in 1906 and despite some controversies (like parading semi-naked the streets of Moscow displaying futurist tattoos), she was growing increasingly popular also in Russia. She held a major avant-garde exhibition in Moscow in 1913, aged just 32.

Natalia Goncharova, The deity of fertility, 1910, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia

The exhibition at Tate Modern will explore Goncharova’s visual inspirations, it’s been organized in collaboration with Palazzo Strozzi, Florence and the Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki.

Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

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