PRINT April 1978

From Cézanne to Picasso to Suprematism: The Russian Criticism

VIRTUALLY ALL THE WRITING that has appeared on the art of the Russian vanguard has commented intriguingly on how Russian artists responded, both pictorially and theoretically, to the influence of French painting.1 Malevich himself traced the development of his Suprematist style—of which the most severely reductivist image was the Black Square—through Futurism and Cubism back to Cézanne. My own title here is in fact a tribute to Malevich’s writings on this very subject. However, the Russian pictorial reaction to French art occurred in the context of a Russian critical response, in the press and in contemporary discussions and debates on the new art. Charlotte Douglas has already treated the nature and timing of the Russian vanguard’s understanding of Italian Futurism.2 By the First World War, Picasso’s role in the birth of Cubism was very much taken for granted, as was his position as a direct artistic descendent of Cézanne.

The French and Russian criticism of Cézanne and Picasso cannot be separated entirely, for Russian writers were often thoroughly familiar with parallel French writings—such as the terms “primitivism” and “pure painting,” both of which underwent radical changes before the war. While a number of Russian writers shared the French critical predilection for the purely formal and painterly in the work of the two artists, the Russian response can be differentiated from the French by its tendency, rare in serious French criticism after the Symbolist period, to subordinate formal concerns to what might be termed a mystical or eschatological reading—of the Cubist paintings of Picasso, in particular. This vital element in the development of Russian modernism has been overlooked by Western art historians steeped in the formalism of the Ecole de Paris.

While the Russian critics were writing about the art of Cézanne and Picasso, young Russian artists familiarized themselves with their paintings, through access to the collections of Ivan Morozov and Sergei Shchukin in Moscow; before the war these two collections contained examples of the highest quality of all periods of Cézanne’s and, later, of Picasso’s, stylistic development. Familiarity with these collections led the young Russian painters, especially Larionov, Malevich, Filonov and Tatlin, to the conviction that theirs was to be the next step in the evolution of artistic consciousness. At all costs, they desired to demonstrate how they overcame the limitations implicit in Cubism.3 Before, however, we explore the critical reception of the new French art, to understand these various answers to Cubism, we might take note, in passing, of an important caveat that Maurice Denis wrote in 1907:

I have never heard an admirer of Cézanne give me a clear and precise reason for his admiration; and this is true even among those artists who feel most directly the appeal of Cézanne’s art.4

The earliest Russian articles dedicated to the work of Paul Cézanne bring up the interesting question of the meaning of the term “primitive” early in the century. In a review of the Cézanne exhibition held in Cassirer’s Berlin gallery in 1904, Igor Grabar, a colleague of Kandinsky at the school of Anton Azbé (in 1897–98) and the author of the review in question, cited Ambroise Vollard’s high opinion of Cézanne as the greatest living French artist. Grabar could not agree totally with Vollard, but he did see Cézanne as a most sincere artist, more sincere even than Maurice Denis, the painter responsible for alerting Russian critics to Cézanne’s importance for the new French art. Grabar wrote: “Cézanne is sincere to the utmost degree possible, sincere as an unspoilt child, as a medieval miniaturist.” Apparently Grabar was familiar with Camille Mauclair’s characterization of Cézanne as possessing a primitivism like that of the medieval masters. Another Russian writer who saw Cézanne as a primitive was Prince Shervashidze, who had been living in Paris since the turn of the century and was reporting, along with Grabar, on the art scene abroad, for Mir iskusstva (The World of Art), as well as subsequent periodicals. Cézanne, he claimed, was like the primitive fresco painters of early Christianity. Pavel Muratov followed Mauclair still more closely, again relating Cézanne to the primitive style of the medieval masters.5 These three writers thought of “primitive” art in the same terms as did the Nabis artists in France, or the group of artists and writers gathered around the Abbaye de Créteil, many of whom had dealings with Russian art magazines like Vesy (The Balance) and Zolotoe runo (The Golden Fleece).6 As for the French, the term “primitive,” when used in these Russian articles, conveyed the sense of earlier cultures within the Western European tradition.

The meaning of primitivism underwent a major change between c. 1905 and 1908, gradually gaining in precision from signifying generally exotic and temporally distant arts such as Italian “primitives” and Egyptian art. It seemed to shift geographically from Western to non-Western cultures as artists and critics in France, for instance, “discovered” Oceania and Africa. Robert Goldwater has documented this change in European art,7 and a similar change can be traced in the pages of advanced art periodicals of Russia. Thus in January 1905 the Moscow journal Iskusstvo (Art) reproduced a group of carved icons from the collection of Sergei Shchukin’s brother Peter, while subsequent issues featured Japanese and Aztec art. Iskusstvo’s innovative approach to art outside the Western European tradition opened the door for a full-fledged appreciation of native Russian and Eastern art which followed in the pages of Zolotoe runo, where Sergei Makovskii, writing in 1907, evaluated Cézanne and Gauguin as “conscious primitives” and extolled this primitivism as “the basic task, and the latest victory of artistic freedom.” Russian writers and artists were familiar with Gauguin’s flight to the South Seas, and with his paintings, because, in addition to seeing them in Europe, they had been reproduced in Russian periodicals since 1904. In light of these developments in Russia, the uses of the word “primitive” in art criticism after 1907 should be seen as linked to non-European traditions. Such a case occurred in a 1912 article by Yakov Tugendkhold, art critic for the St. Petersburg journal Apollon (Apollo), who knew the Paris art scene intimately. Writing on still-life painting, Tugendkhold stated that Cézanne “portrayed not the actual apple, like the Realists, and not an impression of an apple, like the Impressionists, but like a primitive, his a priori conception, his schema, his idea of an apple.”8 With all its overtones of Kantian idealism, Tugendkhold’s notion of the primitive as depicting the idea recalls Picasso’s evaluation of primitive sculpture as “rational.”

In these articles by Makovskii and Tugendkhold, we find also the concept of “pure painting." The French use of this notion in art criticism at the turn of the century is well known. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, French Impressionism was seen by the Symbolists as embodying analytic and scientific concerns analogous to the dominant Positivist trend in philosophy. Against this, they posited an art that would embody eternal verities instead of accidental external appearances; spiritual truths instead of material facts, an art that would be “pure” and “synthetic” instead of analytic. This is the basic sense in which the French Symbolists (and consequently the Russian critics) used the term “pure painting”; that is, in the sense of a painting freed of any sort of utilitarian significance, a painting concerned only with “purely esthetic values” with the subject matter deemphasized. The French Symbolists initiated the picture of Cézanne as both a “mystic” and as a “pure painter.” Gradually, the notion of Cézanne as a constructor of pictures overtook these two Symbolist concepts, with their spiritual connotations, and by 1917 the idea of structural design was at the core of advanced Cézanne criticism.9 A similar phenomenon can be traced in the criticism of Cézanne and Picasso in Russia. Such criticism depended partly on the shifting meanings of the terms analytic and synthetic, as they unite with the changing idea of “pure painting.”

In 1908, in an article on the then already well-known Shchukin gallery of French art, Pavel Muratov stressed the self-sufficient strength of Cézanne’s paintings, apart from literary or scientific-analytic tasks. Muratov’s evaluation reflects the entire anti-Realist current within Russian art at this time, as well as Emile Bernard’s 1904 judgment of Cézanne as a representative of absolute painting with no other purpose than itself. Furthermore, a December 1911 lecture by Sergei Bobrov, spokesman for the group of artists around Mikhail Larionov, considered Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse equally as having demonstrated that “the purity of painting is to be found in painting itself—freed of secondary concerns.” In his Rayist and Futurist manifesto of 1913, Larionov himself proclaimed the liberation of painting, which would now begin to live according to its own laws. Both these statements closely parallel the growing French concern for the formal construction of a painting.

Prince Shervashidze stated in his 1905 article on Cézanne that a good painting “is a living being, that lives its life in accordance with its own laws, which are entirely unlike those of life.” How similar is this idea to the words of Gleizes and Metzinger in Du Cubisme! Russia saw two translations of that book in 1913, but it is obvious from Shervashidze’s review that the concept of painting as an organism had currency in Russia long before Du Cubisme appeared. In fact, the same notion, applied to literature, is found in the review of a book on Gogol’s literary style: the reviewer, Boris Sadovskoi, stated that “Gogol’s language is a separate integral organism, created according to its own living laws.

This more nationalist trend is evident in other writings as well. After a highly critical review of a book on French art in 1913, Nikolai Punin applied the concept of painting as an organism to the great tradition of the Russian icon; he wrote: “For us, the icon is not so much a work of art as a living organism.” Punin, who was to become the most innovative of Soviet Formalist art critics, was emphasizing the icon’s spiritual qualities, rather than its formal aspects. In a similar vein, Kazimir Malevich declared in 1915 that his new Suprematist paintings, products of Intuitive Reason, had no utilitarian purpose; furthermore, his Square was “a living royal infant.”10 In these last two statements, the polarity between the French formal and the Russian mystical has become more palpable.

The Russian icon was called upon to answer another challenge posed by the new French art, this time by Picasso’s collages and constructions. Very recently, Jean-Claude Marcadê has begun to consider this particularly Russian answer to Picasso as a possible source for Tatlin’s culture of materials. The mixed-media aspect of icons—their rich, elaborate gold casings, which covered all but the faces and hands of figures; the pearls, precious stones and embroidery—had begun to attract ever greater attention at the close of the first decade of the 20th century. When Maurice Denis visited Russia in January 1909, he remarked on the “richesse incroyable” of the iconostases and on the “couleurs très vives” of the icons. Henri Matisse had a similar reaction when he visited Russia in late 1911. The young Russian artists soon became enthusiastic over their native heritage. In his December 1911 lecture, Bobrov remarked upon the artists’ new interest in ancient native arts, especially icons, lubok prints and embroidery. This “mixed-media” heritage was recalled again in 1913, when Aleksandr Shevchenko, a colleague of Larionov, wrote of Picasso’s collages. Shevchenko admitted that Picasso had found new possibilities in mixing materials, but added that the technique itself was not uncommon in the ancient arts of many diverse cultures. Among these, Shevchenko noted particularly Russian icons with their rich encrustations of precious stones, enamel and filigree. “Everywhere,” he concluded, “we see the same mixing of materials, the same principle of the variety of textures; if all this doesn’t seem like a madman’s delirium, it is only because these materials are more precious than Picasso’s plaster and newspaper.”11

The neo-nationalism sensed here in the recalling of native traditions in the face of French art is frequently met by direct borrowing and echoes of French criticism. For instance, as the French began to view Cézanne’s concern for pictorial problems as a necessary reorientation back to painting’s most important tasks, so the Russian artists and writers began more and more to emphasize the same aspect of his work. The purity of painting loosened its grip on the “Other World” in order to cleave more closely to its own, the world of the plastic and painterly construction of the work of art. In 1913 Aleksei Grishchenko, Larionov’s close associate, stressed the adherence of both Cézanne and Picasso to strict painterly laws; he called Picasso, furthermore, “a constructor-painter”—a designation having affinities with Roger Allard’s statement: “The first and most noble right of the artist is to be a conscious builder of his ideas.” Grishchenko, further on, cited Allard by name, and praised him for not using the word Cubism (“That useless word, like Impressionism, says little about the essence of the artistic method itself”) in dealing with the work of LeFauconnier, Gleizes, Metzinger and Delaunay.12

Many more artists and writers might be added to the list of those who stress pictorial construction in the work of Cézanne and Picasso: David Burliuk, for example, one of the important organizers of vanguard exhibitions in Russia, and a link with Kandinsky in Germany; and Anatole Lunacharsky, who became Commissar of Enlightenment under Lenin. Larionov and Grishchenko, in addition, dissociated these constructive preoccupations from the Symbolist concept of “decoration,” which had earlier been applied widely to the paintings of Cézanne. Similarly, Ivan Aksenov, poet and participant in Russian debates on the new art, took issue in 1914 with the collector Shchukin’s evaluation of Picasso. Shchukin had said: “Matisse paints palaces, Picasso paints cathedrals.” Ignoring the spiritual aspects of this, Aksenov disagreed with the second half, because he couldn’t accept Picasso as a decorator, which, he admitted, Matisse surely was.13

Concern with the spiritual qualities of contemporary art, especially that of Picasso, forms a significant, and particularly revealing chapter in the Russian critical response to French painting. The Russian tendency toward mysticism was given full play. Only in Russia does one find the highly developed concept of Picasso’s Cubism as a manifestation of the contemporary spiritual atmosphere, an atmosphere permeated with the occult, and with eschatological, even apocalyptic, portents of impending change in the mortal sphere. Such references are rare in French criticism, although Emile Bernard, revealing his Symbolist roots, did call Cézanne a “mystic” because of “the absence of a material vision.” And André Salmon also, in his Anecdotal History of Cubism, found space to ask, but not to answer, the vital question: “Does not the salvation of the soul on earth lie in a quite new art?” Did Salmon see Cubism as a means for the “salvation of the soul on earth”? Because he did not answer this question, it has frequently been ignored. But it was a question that the Russians could not easily set aside. Indeed, it formed the core of the most controversial essays on the art of Picasso. Salmon himself set the tone for this debate, with the phrase: “Those who see in Picasso’s work the marks of the occult, of symbolism or mysticism, are in great danger of never understanding it.”14 Despite the fact that Salmon may be right, where Picasso is concerned, we can hardly afford to ignore this aspect of the Russian response to his paintings when considering the context of developing modern Russian art, and especially Malevich’s Suprematism.

In this mystical atmosphere, previous alignments toward the two French painters shifted radically. Once again we meet in this criticism drastic changes in the meaning of long-familiar terms. The new use of “synthetic” in French criticism from 1913 on to designate Cubist collages, although adopted in certain Russian writings, was not long-lived in Russia. Instead, the former meaning of “synthetic”—in the sense of a complete “cultural integration,” to quote John Bowlt—remained entrenched in the most interesting and original Russian criticism. Cézanne, whose “pure painting” was during the Symbolist era the mark of a synthetic artist, was forcibly moved into the analytic camp, alongside Picasso. Nikolai Berdiaev, the Russian religious philosopher who effected this move, saw Picasso and his precursor Cézanne as representatives of the analytic tendency in art. Berdiaev held in abeyance the term synthetic, which was such a vital component in the larger context of turn-of-the-century spiritual strivings in Russia.15

Berdiaev’s spring 1914 essay on Picasso examined Cubism as an analytical method that pulverized and decomposed the organic, material world. Earlier that year, Yakov Tugendkhold characterized paintings like Picasso’s Dryad and Farmer as “stone idols.” Countering this, Berdiaev stated that the sensation of solidity, of walking into a Stone Age upon entering the Picasso room at Shchukin’s, was a misleading sensation. There was really only the illusion, the ghost of a Stone Age. “The weight, the ice-bound quality, and the hardness of Picasso’s geometric figures is only apparent,” Berdiaev wrote; “in actuality, Picasso’s geometric bodies, knit from cubic skeletons of the corporeal world, disintegrate at the slightest touch.”16

In his 1917 lecture on “The Crisis of Art,” Berdiaev elaborated on the theme of Cubist “pulverization.” He stated unequivocally that both Cubism and Futurism “decompose the organic synthesis of the old natural world and the old art.” Malevich was very much influenced, as Joost Baljeu and Jean-Claude Marcadé suggest, by Berdiaev’s ideas. Even if one doubts the extent of this influence, it will become apparent that Malevich’s thoughts were along similar lines as Berdiaev’s. While Malevich never used the terms “analytic” and “synthetic,” as Berdiaev did, he clearly adopted Berdiaev’s term “pulverization” (raspylenie) and the concept of Cubism as an organic decomposition of the material world. By contrast to his later practice, Malevich’s 1915 essay “From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism” utilized the idea of the Cubist break-up of objects into their component elements, a notion lacking the resonance of the words “pulverization” and “decomposition.” Berdiaev was clearly intrigued by Malevich’s Suprematism and praised it in his 1917 lecture; so Malevich later paid tribute to Berdiaev by liberally sprinkling Berdiaev’s terms through his 1919 and 1920 essays.17

By returning to the former meaning of the term “synthetic,” Berdiaev’s essay points up the growing gap between the formalist-analytic and the mystical-synthetic trends in Russian writings about art. Berdiaev wrote that Picasso’s work was merely a symptom that “a synthetically-integral artistic perception and creation became more and more impossible.” Synthesis meant for Berdiaev a resolution of opposites, a unity of contradictions. Thus Max Voloshin, writing in 1914, had praised icons for leading the way to the desired synthesis; they revealed themselves in 1913 Russia—miraculously as it were—“in order to give a lesson in the harmonious balance between tradition and individualism, between method and intention, between line and color.” For Malevich, writing in 1919, the task of the artist-creator was to achieve on his pictorial surface a “unity of contradictions” which would be the equivalent, but not the imitation, of “the harmony of contradictions in the unity of nature’s picture.”18

In a 1905 essay on “The Crisis of Rationalism in Contemporary Philosophy,” Berdiaev had written that the true essence of the world lay in the unity of subject and object; knowledge of this essence, he felt, could only be obtained through recourse to “mystical in contrast to rational cognition.” Berdiaev’s colleague in the St. Petersburg religious-philosophical gatherings of 1901-03, the poet and precursor of Russian Symbolism Nikolai Minsky, wrote in 1905 that mystical reason destroys the old order. With Picasso’s paintings as evidence, Berdiaev, in 1914, saw this destruction already under way; he saw nature herself—even meteorological and geological phenomena—as in the process of drastic change. Resorting to Theosophical terminology in dealing with Picasso, Berdiaev suggested that “painting is passing from physical bodies to ethereal or astral bodies.” Because of his belief in this type of occult event, Berdiaev concluded his evaluation of Picasso on a positive note:

[Standing] in front of Picasso’s pictures, I thought something evil was happening to the world, and I felt grief and pity for the ruin of the world’s old beauty—but also joy at the birth of the new. Similar thoughts come to me when I read occult books, or have discussions with people living in that sphere of phenomena. But I believe, believe deeply, that a new beauty is possible in this very life, and that the ruin of the old beauty only seems as such to us because of our limitations, . . . Picasso [however] is not the new creation. He is the end of the old.19

Ivan Aksenov, whom we have already seen take issue with Sergei Shchukin on the point of Picasso as a decorator, sharply criticized, even satirized, Berdiaev’s treatment of Picasso as a mystic. Aksenov wrote that Berdiaev should have entitled his article “Eschatological Experiences Apropos the Paintings of Picasso.” Aksenov found Picasso no demon, no mystic, no prophet of the fourth dimension; instead, Picasso was for him interested only in painterly problems and their resolution on the canvas.20 (Shades of André Salmon!)

Aksenov is interesting here for more than his criticism of Berdiaev, however; his book on Picasso, dated June 1914 (but printed in Russia in 1917), made a positive contribution to Picasso criticism—and consequently, to the further development of Russian modernism—by suggesting a relationship to photography. He felt that “textbook theorems” were inadequate for understanding Picasso’s “geometric inclinations,” which could be better comprehended by recourse to photographic images. In this regard, Aksenov drew two very startling conclusions about the look of Picasso’s works. The first deals with the sensation of exceptional proximity one has in front of Cubist paintings; the other treats of the effects of aerial photography. On the first point, Aksenov wrote: “Picasso looks at his subject as closely as if he were looking at his lover’s face. In order to see two subjects, he has to turn his head, and on his canvas he transfers the breadth of his composition into depth. His ‘perspective’ (if one still uses that word) is exaggerated (as in a photo taken with a short-focus camera), in pursuing these problems: a broad spreading out with minimal remoteness of the object.” Further on, Aksenov conjectures “about the suggestiveness [for Picasso’s imagery] of countless photographs at that time, of [things] whole, partial, and completely broken up aerially—which introduce the most unexpected combinations of surface with axes, and which created unprecedented visual sensations.”21 Compare this with Gertrude Stein’s 1938 statement regarding Picasso and aerial photography:

One must not forget that the earth seen from an airplane is more splendid than the earth seen from an automobile. The automobile is the end of progress on the earth, it goes quicker but essentially the landscapes seen from an automobile are the same as the landscapes seen from a carriage, a train, a wagon [sic], or in walking. But the earth seen from an airplane is something else. So the twentieth century is not the same as the nineteenth century and it is very interesting knowing that Picasso has never seen the earth from an airplane, that being of the twentieth century, . . . he knew it, he made it, inevitably he made it different and what he made is a thing that now all the world can see. . . .22

Unlike Gertrude Stein, Aksenov suggested aerial photography as a concrete source for Picasso’s imagery, claiming that this explanation was at least as good, and perhaps better, than “textbook theorems” of geometry. Nevertheless, this suggestion reflects more the concerns of the Russian avant-garde than any real sources for Picasso. On the other hand, Malevich, who was familiar with Aksenov from his participation in vanguard disputes in Russia, was even closer to producing an “aerial imagery.” Malevich’s Aerial Suprematism dates from 1917–18. In a recent lecture, John Bowlt addressed this question from the vantage point of the earlier Symbolist desire for transcendence.23 Suffice it to recall a few facts of the Russian vanguard’s awareness of this new mode of transportation: spring 1910 marked the height of the new craze for aviation in Russia; within two years, the Russian Futurist poet Vasilii Kamenskii began training as a pilot, long after becoming involved with the circle around David Burliuk; when Kamenskii returned from training, he chatted with his friends “about flying, poetry and all that futurism”; certainly, under his influence, references to airplanes became more and more frequent in the writings and talks of the Russian Futurists, much more frequent than, say, in Italian Futurist manifestos or in Apollinaire’s conversations.24 It seems fair to assume that, in the Russian Futurist context, Malevich would have been thinking about the aerial view as the uniquely 20th-century visual experience.

Compare to this the attitude of advanced French artists and poets toward the new type of travel: Fernand Léger and Blaise Cendrars in 1913 and 1914 still considered speeding autos and trains as producing the ultimate in a new vision of the landscape. The paintings of Roger de LaFresnaye (Conquest of the Air, 1913) and Delaunay (Cardiff Team, 1913; Hornmage à Blériot, 1914) are firmly terrestrial in their viewpoints, and this, despite the facts that LaFresnaye’s brother directed the manufacture of airplanes and that Louis Vauxcelles’ review of Georges Braque’s first exhibition of Cubist paintings in 1908 was printed directly above a notice of Wilbur Wright’s latest “Conquête de l’air”.25 Although Russia may not have invented the airplane, Malevich’s Aerial Suprematism was its original contribution to aerial imagery. Moreover, given the timing of the publication of Aksenov’s book, it seems reasonable to view Malevich’s new phase of Suprematism as his answer to Aksenov’s conjecture about Picasso and aerial photos.

By itself, this Russian critical response to Cézanne and Picasso might be taken as a mere curiosity. Berdiaev’s essay on Picasso, for example, would seem, in isolation, merely the irrelevant ravings of a mystic. On the other hand, by viewing these writings as a necessary part of the framework within which Russian modernism developed responses to French painting, we can observe how the special characteristics of Russia’s perception of Western art fed into future Russian styles and served, really, as a spur to the evolution of Russia’s own art.

Margaret Betz is preparing her Ph. D. dissertation on French modern art in Russia, at the City University of New York.

I would like to thank Leo Steinberg, whose Picasso seminar at the Graduate School of the City University of New York initiated research in this area several years ago. I am also grateful to Rose-Carol Washton Long, Charlotte Douglas, and John Bowlt for their generous guidance in this field. Translations are my own, except when noted.



1. One of the most interesting recent comments concerned Malevich’s substitution of “sphere, cone and cube” for Cézanne’s adage regarding the “cylinder, sphere and cone”: J.-P. Bouillon, “Le Cubisme et l’avant-garde russe,” Université de Saint-Etienne, Travaux IV (Le Cubisme), St.-Etienne, 1971, p. 202: repeated in A. Birnholz, “Forms, Angles, and Corners: On Meaning in Russian Avant-Garde Art,” Arts, LI 6 (Feb. 1977), p. 103, Nevertheless, Birnholz’s reading of Malevich’s “slip of the pen” as meaningful neglects the other mistranslations of Cézanne’s adage. S. Bobrov, for instance, used “cube, prism, and sphere,” while Ya. Tugendkhold did not mistranslate the phrase. S. Bobrov, “Osnovy novoi russkoi zhivopisi,” Trudy vserossiiskogo s’ezda khudozhnikov (St. Petersburg) I, 1914, p. 43 (hereafter cited as Trudy, I); Ya. Tugendkhol’d, “Peizazh vo frantsuzskoi zhivopisi,” Apollon, H 7 (1911), p. 18.

2. C. Douglas, “The New Russian Art and Italian Futurism,” Art Journal, XXXIV 3 (Spring 1975), pp. 229–39.

3. E. Kovtun, “The Beginning of Suprematism,” From Surface to Space: Russia 1916–24, Cologne, 1974, pp. 32–35.

4. M. Denis, “Cézanne,” L’Occident, September 1907; reprinted in Denis, Théories, Paris, 1912, p. 245.

5. I. Grabar, “Po evropeiskim vystavkam: Sezann,” Mir iskusstva, XII 8–9 (1904), pp 156–158. A. Shervashidze, “Sezann,” Iskusstvo, I, 4 (Apr. 1905), p. 41. P. Muratov, “Pol’ Sezann,” Vesy, HI 12 (Dec. 1906), p. 41. C. Mauclair, L’Impressionisme, Paris, 1904.

6. D. Robbins, “From Symbolism to Cubism: The Abbaye of Créteil,” Art Journal, XXIII 2 (Winter 1963–64), pp. 111–16. Certain of these writers and painters, Alexandre Mercereau, René Arcos, Charles Vildrac, Jules Romains, Mecislas Goldberg, and even Marinetti, future leader of the Italian Futurists, were represented in the pages of the Russian journal Vesy between 1904 and 1909. Among the subscribers were Larionov, Ester, Rimsky-Korsakov, G. Chulkov, and, abroad, Cassirer, Arthur Symons, Giovanni Papini in Italy, three Russians in Paris in 1906, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, Konstantin Belmont, and Nikolai Gumilev, as well as Maurice Denis’ close friend René Ghil, whose essays on contemporary French poetry were included in the magazine.

7. R. Goldwater, Primitivism in Modern Art, New York, 1967.

8. S. Makovskii, “Golubaia roza,” Zolotoe runo, H 5 (May 1907), p. 25. Ya Tugendkhol’d, “Problema natiurmorta,” originally in Apollon, Ill 3–4 (March-April 1912); reprinted in Tugendkhold, Problemy i kharakteristiki, Petrograd, 1915, p. 14.

9. J. Wechsler, “Introduction,” Cézanne in Perspective, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1975, pp. 5–12.

10. A. Shervashidze, op. cit., p. 44. B. Sadovskoi, review of I. Mandel’shtam’s O kharaktere Gogolevskago stilia, Helsinki, 1902, in Zolotoe runo, 14 (April 1906), p. 110. P. Muratov, “Shchukinskaiaia gallereia,” Russkaia mysl’, XXIX 8 (August 1908), p. 132. E. Bernard, “Paul Cézanne” (1904), in Cézanne in Perspective, p. 40. S. Bobrov, op. cit., p. 41. M. Larionov, “Luchisty i budushchniki,” Oslini khvost i mishen’, Moscow, 1913, p. 12. N. Punin, “Puti sovremennago iskusstva i russkaia ikonopis’,” Apollon, IV 10 (December 1913), p. 46. K. Malevich, “From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism” (1915), in Malevich, Essays on Art, ed. T. Andersen, New York, 1968, p. 38.

11. I am indebted to Margit Rowell for bringing J.-CI. Marcadé’s recent research in this area to my attention. M. Denis, Journal, II, Paris, 1957, pp. 99–100. Yu. Rusakov, “Matisse in Russia in the Autumn of 1911,” trans. J.E. Bowlt, Burlington Magazine, CXVII 866 (May 1975), pp. 285–286. S. Bobrov, op. cit., p. 41. A. Shevchenko, “Printsipy kubizma i drugikh sovremennykh techenii v zhivopisi vsekh vremen i narodov” (1913), in Mastera iskusstva ob iskusstve, VII, Moscow, 1970, pp. 500–501.

12. R. Allard, “Der Kennzeichen der Erneuerung in der Malerei,” Der blaue Reiter, Munich, 1912, p. 39: trans. by K. Lankheit, in The Blaue Reiter Almanac, ed. K. Lankheit, New York, 1974, p. 108. A. Grishchenko, “O gruppe khudozhnikov ‘Budnovyi valet’,” Apollon, IV 6 (June 1913), pp. 33, 36. Allard’s thoughts on the plastic construction of paintings appeared in other essays of 1910–12 as well: his importance for the Russian avant-garde cannot be denied (as A. Nakov attempts to do in Alexandra Exter, Paris, 1972, p. 15 n. 21); Exter published a compilation of Allard’s thoughts (including comments on the work of Matisse, Gleizes, LaFauconnier, Metzinger, and Delaunay) in the Kiev journal Iskusstvo early in 1912. Exter was a student in Paris at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where Lipchits studied after 1909. Chagall in 1910, and Kseniia (Xana) Boguslovskaia, the wife of Ivan Puni (Pougny), in 1912. She was close to the circle around the avant-garde journal Les Soirées de Paris, financed by her compatriot Serge Féral and his sister Helena, the stunning Baroness d’Oettingen. Through gatherings at the editorial offices of Les Soirées, Ester met Apollinaire, Picasso, Léger, Max Jacob, and Ardengo Soffici.

13. D. Burliuk, “Cubism (Surface-Plane)” (1912), trans. J. E. Bowlt, in Russian Art of the Avant-Garde, New York, 1976, pp. 70–77. A. Lunacharskii, “Parizhskie pis’ma,” Sovremennik, 1913, and “Vystavka kartin Sezanna,” Kievskaia mysl’, 1914; both reprinted in A.V. Lunacharskii: Ob izobrazital’nom iskusstve I, Moscow, 1967, pp. 162–184, 196–199. M. Larionov, “Luchistaia zhivopis” (1913), trans. J. E. Bowlt, in Russian Art of the Avant-Garde, p. 95. A. Grishchenko, op. cit., p. 32. For an examination of the deemphasis of the decorative in the West, see J. Masheck, “The Carpet Paradigm: Critical Prolegomena to a Theory of Flatness,” Arts, 1 (September 1976), esp. pp. 100–01. I. Aksenov, Pikasso i okrestnosti, Moscow, 1917, p. 35.

14. E. Bernard, p. 43. This is a reflection of Gauguin’s 1885 characterization of Cézanne as an Eastern mystic. A. Salmon. “Anecdotal History of Cubism,” originally in La jeune peinture francaise, Paris, 1912; trans. E. Fry, Cubism, New York, 1966, p. 85. This controversy continues today. See the article which first connected Malevich and Berdiaev, J. Baljeu, “The Problem of Reality with Suprematism, Constructivism, Proun, Neo-Plasticism and Elementarism,” The Lugano Review, I 1 (1965), pp. 105–123; T. Andersen, without stating his reasons, rejected Baljeu’s suggestion, in “Malevich on ‘New Art,’” Studio International, CLXXIV 892 (September 1967), p. 104.

15. J. E. Bowlt, “Synthesism and Symbolism: The Russian World of Art Movement,” Forum for Modern Language Studies, IX 1 (January 1973), pp. 35–48. Two articles and a book by R.-C. W. Long: “Kandinsky and Abstraction: The Role of the Hidden Image,” Artforum, X 10 (June 1972), pp. 42–49: “Kandinsky’s Abstract Style: The Veiling of Apocalyptic Folk Imagery,” Art Journal, XXXIV 3 (Spring 1975), pp. 217–228; and The Hidden Image: The Development of Kandinsky’s Abstract Style, 1909–1914, to be published by Oxford University Press.

16. Ya. Tugendkhold, “Frantsuzskoe sobranie S.I. Shchukina,” Apollon, V 1–2 (January–February 1914), pp. 30, 33. N. Berdiaev, “Pikasso” (1914), in Krizis iskusstva, Moscow, 1918, p. 30. German translations of parts of the Berdiaev and Aksenov articles are available in Picasso in Russland: Materialien zur Wirkungsgeschichte 1913–1971, ed. F. P. Ingold, Zurich, 1973.

17. N. Berdiaev, “Krizis iskusstva,” (lecture, Moscow, Nov. 1917), published along with the Picasso article. Krizis iskusstva, p. 7. J. Baljeu article cited in n. 14; J.-Cl. Marcadé, “Préface: Une Esthétique de l’ab1me,” in _K. S. Malevich, Ecrits I: De Cézanne au Suprématisme, Lausanne, 1974, p. 23. M. Betz, “The Icon and Russian Modernism,” Artforum, XV 10 (Summer 1977), p. 43. K. Malevich, “On New Systems in Art,” (1919) in T. Andersen, ed. of Malevich’s Essays on Art, I, pp. 96. 99, 101, 111, 112, 117. Andersen’s notes to this text are in error when they indicate the differences between this essay and the 1920 “From Cézanne to Suprematism”; this latter essay is important because it was printed in a larger tirage than “On New Systems in Art,” and therefore had a wider distribution. Compare Marcadé’s superior presentation with the original, Ot Sezanna do Suprematizma, n.p., 1920. pp. 5, 7, 9, 12. 16.

18. N. Berdiaev, “Pikasso,” op. cit. p. 30. M Voloshin. “Chemu uchat ikonyr?” Apollon, V 5 (May 1914), p. 29. Again Marcadé’s translation is superior to Andersen’s; the passage on the unity of contradictions is especially misleading in Essays on Art, I, p. 85; compare Ecrits I, p. 81.

19. N. Berdiaev, “Krizis ratsionalizma v sovremennoi filosofii,” Voprosy zhizni, I, 6 (June 1905), pp. 175–176. N. Minskii, Religiia budushchago, St. Petersburg, 1905, p. 273. N. Berdiaev, “Pikasso,” op. cit., pp. 31, 35. Others such as N. Kulbin saw drastic changes in nature as a sign that a new and greater era was dawning; see his 1911 lecture, printed as “Garmoniia, dissonans i tesnyia sochetaniia v iskusstve i zhizni,” Trudy, I. p. 40.

20. I. Aksenov, op. cit., pp. 47–48, 60. Similar thoughts are in N. Punin, Pervyi tsikl lektsi i, Petrograd, 1920, p. 58.

21. Aksenov, op. cit., pp. 18, 39.

22. G. Stein, Picasso, Paris, 1938, and in English, 1939; reprinted in Gertrude Stein on Picasso, ed. E. Burns, New York, 1970, p. 76. I would like to thank Betsy Cromley, a fellow-student at the Graduate School of the City University, for indicating to me Stein’s interest in aerial imagery.

23. I am most grateful to Charlotte Douglas and John Bowlt for conversing with me on this point, and to Mark Berman for showing me his research. Bowlt’s lecture “The Flight of Forms” will appear in a centennial collection of essays on Malevich, to be published in Paris this year.

24. C. Douglas, “Swans of Other Worlds: Kazimir Malevich and the Origins of Suprematism, 1908–1915,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1975, pp. 26, 31. B. L. Tageyev, Aerial Russia, The Romance of the Giant Aeroplane, London, 1916, recounts the early history of aviation in Russia. Notes left with the Delaunays in Paris, 1913. written by the Russian Futurist painter Georges Yakulov, should also be mentioned here, for their interesting comments about the nature of contemporary vision as a product of aviation; quoted in V. Marcadé Le Renouveau de l’art pictural russe, Lausanne, 1971, pp. 216–218. W. Woroszylysky, [comp.], The Life of Mayakovsky, trans. B. Taborski, New York, 1970, pp. 34–35, 54–56, 92. P. Waldberg, Max Ernst, Paris, 1958, pp. 82–83.

25. F. Léger, “Contemporary Achievements in Painting,” Les Soirées de Paris, 1914; reprinted in Léger, Functions of Painting, trans. A. Anderson, New York, 1973, pp. 11–12. B. Cendrars, La Prose du transsibénen et de la Petite Jehanne de France, 1913, which was brought, complete with illustrations by S. Delaunay, and shown at the St. Petersburg cabaret Stray Dog, in December of 1913. See. B. Livshits, Polutoraglazyi streiéts, Leningrad, 1933, p. 206: trans. J. E. Bowlt, as One and a Half-eyed Archer, Newtonville, Mass., 1977, pp. 175, 212 n. 23. G. Vriesen, “Robert Delaunay’s Life and Work from the Beginning to Orphism,” Robert Delaunay: Light and Color, New York, 1967, p. 50, must be wrong in his date for Smirnov’s visit to the Delaunays. D. Cooper, The Cubist Epoch, London, 1970, p. 136. Vauxcelles’ review and the Wilbur Wright notice are reproduced in Fry, Cubism, p. 51.