L’Art Décoratif Théâtral Moderne


A new exhibition of stage and costume designs by Russian avant-garde artists Natal'ya Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov opens this month.

Goncharova and Larionov: L'Art Décoratif Théâtral Moderne is a folio of prints produced by the two avant-garde artists in Paris in 1919. Featuring examples of their work in ponchoir (stencil) printing and lithography, the folio highlights their interest in both stage and costume design, while also emphasising their desire to combine forms of cubism with the representation of movement.

As founding members of Rayonism, an abstract art movement developed in 1911, Goncharova and Larionov focused on combining technology, speed and modernity to depict the dynamic character of early twentieth-century life. They sought an art that went beyond abstraction to break down barriers between the public and the artist.

It may have been short-lived, but Rayonism had huge impact at the time and we view it now as a crucial step in the development of Russian abstract art,' says director Jenny Harper. 'The rich, decorative patterns, vibrant colours and abstract, angular forms of the works in L'Art Décoratif Théâtral Moderne reflect this intriguing movement and look surprisingly contemporary today.'

Goncharova and Larionov first met in 1898 as students at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. They were founding members of several leading Russian avant-garde movements such as the Donkey's Tail (1912), and worked with the legendary founder of Ballets Russes, Serge Diaghilev. In 1919 they moved to Paris, where they became prominent figures in the city's artistic, dance and literary circles. Today they are widely regarded as the foremost Russian artists of the twentieth century.

Goncharova and Larionov: L'Art Décoratif Théâtral Moderne opens on 15 May and runs until 8 August 2010.