Natalia Goncharova (Russian 1881-1962)
A Russian avant-garde artist who was a painter, costume designer, writer, illustrator, and set designer. She studied sculpture at the Moscow Academy of Art, but turned to painting in 1904. She was inspired by Russian folk art and attempted to emulate it in her own work while incorporating elements of fauvism and cubism. With her husband Mikhail Larionov, she developed Rayonism. She and her husband were the main progenitors of the pre-Revolution Russian avant-garde organising the Donkey’s Tail exhibition of 1912 and showing with the Der Blaue Reiter in Munich the same year.
The Donkey’s Tail was conceived to establish an independent Russian school of modern art. Initially preoccupied with icon painting and the primitivism of ethnic Russian folk-art, Goncharova became famous in Russia for her Futurist work such as The Cyclist and her later Rayonist works. As leaders of the Moscow Futurists, they organised provocative lecture evenings in the same vein as their Italian counterparts. Goncharova was also involved with graphic design – writing and illustrating a book in Futurist style.
Goncharova was a member of the Der Blaue Reiter avant-garde group from its founding in 1911. In 1915, she began to design ballet costumes and sets in Geneva. She later moved to Paris in 1921 where she designed a number of stage sets of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. She showed at the Salon d’Automne in 1921, and exhibited at the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon des Indépendants. She became a French citizen in 1939.
Goncharova died in Paris, in 1952.
Her work is held in the Museum of Modern Art