Maria Gough

  • “Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932”

    The October Revolution of 1917 turns one hundred this year, which means we are in for a slew of exhibitions around the globe commemorating the birth of the world’s first workers’ state and its far-reaching impact on the arts. The Royal Academy presents a panoramic survey of early Soviet painting, sculpture, porcelain, photography, film, and print media, including perhaps most notably a reconstruction of Kazmir Malevich’s 1932 installation of his paintings and “architektons.” Inspired by recent art-historical scholarship and in line with

  • CORPS CONCEPT: THE SOVIET COLLECTIVE

    BY THE LAST DECADE of the Soviet Union’s existence, collectives were everywhere. As Oleg Kharkhordin tells us in his extraordinary study of the dialectic of collective and individual in Russia, the term kollektiv had come to designate the basic unit of Soviet society, “the most familiar and mundane reality of Soviet life.” Such groups, whether in factory, farm, or office, numbered some two and a half million in 1984. But it had not always been so. Far from an ordinary or universal feature of everyday life, the Soviet collective started out on the extreme fringe: Both before and after the October

  • Alexandra Exter

    Comprising some 200 objects—180 of which are borrowed from the A. A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum in Moscow—this show, surprisingly, is the first retrospective devoted to painter and designer Alexandra Exter, perhaps the most peripatetic member of the Russian avant-garde.

    Comprising some 200 objects—180 of which are borrowed from the A. A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum in Moscow—this show, surprisingly, is the first retrospective devoted to painter and designer Alexandra Exter, perhaps the most peripatetic member of the Russian avant-garde. For almost two decades before she settled in Paris in 1924, Exter was constantly on the move, working for extensive periods in the French capital, as well as in Kiev, Odessa, and Moscow. With her firsthand knowledge of the latest aesthetic developments—Cubism, Futurism, Orphism, Suprematism,

  • centenary Futurism exhibitions

    ITALIAN FUTURISM TURNED ONE HUNDRED this past February, but nobody much celebrated—at least not any of the major museums on this side of the Atlantic. Conferences, new publications, and live readings of manifestos have certainly abounded, and this fall’s extensive Performa will be devoted to the anniversary; yet with the exception of a cluster of vitrines in the basement of the Education and Research Building at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the “Speed Limits” show organized by the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal with the Wolfsonian–Florida International University in

  • “Tango with Cows”

    IT WAS NOT SO LONG AGO that museum exhibitions devoted to the historical avant-gardes—Futurism, Dada, Constructivism, Surrealism, and so forth—were all painting and no paper. The illustrated book and other forms of print media that had posited the page as an alternative space for artistic production, exhibition, and reception were rarely to be found. This despite the fact that printed matter, mechanically reproduced and circulated via the soiree and the post office alike, was the lifeblood of the early-twentieth-century avant-gardes. Borrowing from the Russian formalist Yuri Tynianov’s pithy

  • Piet Mondrian

    Dealing the latest blow to the old idealist account of Mondrian’s abstraction, this retrospective of some one hundred paintings and rarely exhibited large-format drawings (all made between 1898 and 1943) foregrounds the mutual imbrication of the two media in the artist’s spectacular oeuvre. This issue has been tackled before, most provocatively in a 1994 retrospective cocurated by veteran Mondrian specialist Joop Joosten (author of the present show’s catalogue) that devoted a whole section to an elucidation of Mondrian’s working process after 1920. What’s new at

  • Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina

    Through the course of the Bolshevik 1920s and Stalinist 1930s, the pioneering Soviet photomonteurs Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina produced some of the most terrible—in the old-fashioned sense of the word—examples of visual propaganda ever executed in the service of modern state power. Eventually supported almost exclusively by the administrative organs and centralized publishing houses of a one-party state, their often overlapping, but also sometimes diverging, design practices were directly dependent on the ever-shifting exigencies of their historical context. Unlike that of many of