- Russian visual arts
Early Russian painting focused on
icon paintingand vibrant fresco's inherited by Russians from Byzantium. As Moscow rose to power, Theophanes the Greekand Andrei Rublevare vital names associated with the beginning of a distinctly Russian art. The Russian Academy of Artswas created in 1757, aimed to give Russian artists an international role and status. Notable portrait painters from the Academy include Ivan Argunov, Fyodor Rokotov, Dmitry Levitzkyand Vladimir Borovikovsky. Realism flourished in the 19th century and the realists captured Russian identity. Russian landscapes of wide rivers, forests, and birch clearings, as well as vigorous genre scenes and robust portraits of their contemporaries asserted a sense of identity. Other artists focused on social criticism, showing the conditions of the poor and caricaturing authority while critical realismflourished under the reign of Alexander II.
After the abolition of serfdom in 1861 some artists made the circle of human suffering their focus. Artists sometimes created wide canvasses to depict dramatic moments in Russian history. The
Peredvizhniki(wanderers) group of artists broke with Russian Academy and initiated a school of art liberated from Academic restrictions. Their paintings had deep social and political meaning. Leading realists include Ivan Shishkin, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Polenov, Isaac Levitan, Vasily Surikov, Viktor Vasnetsov, and Ilya Repin. By the 1830s the Academy was sending painters overseas to learn. The most gifted of these were Aleksander Ivanov and Karl Briullov, both of whom were noted for the Romantic historical canvasses. Uniquely Russian styles of painting emerged by the late 19th century that was intimately engaged with the daily life of Russian society.
Russian avant-gardeis an umbrella term used to define the large, influential wave of modernist artthat flourished in Russia from approximately 1890 to 1930. The term covers many separate, but inextricably related, art movements that occurred at the time; namely neo-primitivism, suprematism, constructivism, rayonismand futurism. Notable artists from this era include El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, Vladimir Tatlin, Alexander Rodchenko, and Marc Chagallamongst others. The Russian avant-garde reached its creative and popular height in the period between the Russian Revolution of 1917and 1932, at which point the ideas of the avant-gardeclashed with the newly emerged conservative Stalinist direction of socialist realism.
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