Ashtead Art Lovers Monthly Talks

11 a.m. and 7.30 p.m.

£10 inc refreshments. The same price since 2007.

Tel: 01372 272235 to book, or email.

Friday 19th July: Natalia Goncharova: star of the Russian Avant Garde.

Natalia Goncharova, (1881-1962) was a free thinking, groundbreaking artist of the Russian avant garde at the beginning of the 20th century, prior to the 1917 Revolution. Goncharova began her education as an sculptor at the Moscow School of Painting Sculpture and Architecture in 1901. In 1910 she was a founder member of the Jack of Diamonds group (1910) and then a couple of years later, the even more radical Donkey’s Tail (1912).

These groups were influenced by what was happening in Paris in the work of the Impressionists, post-Impressionists, Primitivists, Cubists and Fauves, but Goncharova was to take these influences and make them her own. By blending the influences of the Parisian artists with Eastern European traditions, Goncharova is considered to be the bridge between the two very different traditions.

Always thinking freely, Goncharova was not averse to behaving in a way that shocked the conservative members of society. She, and fellow artist Mikhail Larianov, like Picasso and Braque, were influenced by what was termed primitive art and often painted their faces with flowers, or hieroglyphs. Goncharova would shock people by appearing naked to the waist, but painted in primitive symbols. Even though it was deliberate, her behaviour reminded me of one of Wyndham Lewis’s female contemporaries (and lover) who had a very public row with Wyndham Lewis on one of London’s main shopping streets. The woman in question was so furious with WL that she took off all her clothes in protest at his treatment of her! Goncharova’s decisions were more considered and definitely an intellectual statement, but both women were using their bodies to make a public statement about art.

In 1911, fellow Russian, Wassily Kandinsky founded The Blue Rider group and Goncharova was also part of this innovative group from its beginning.

In 1913 she painted The Cyclist, which shows Futurist influence and has a political message.

The Cyclist (1913). Natalia Goncharova.

In 1914 she, and her life long partner and fellow artist, Mikhail Larianov, left Russia. She not only continued to paint, but went on to design costumes and sets for the theatre while she was in Geneva. Later, after WW1 in Paris, she was involved with Diaghelev’s Ballet Russe, and the fashion world bringing Russian folk influences to the fashion house run by another foreign emigre, the Algerian born Mari Cutolli. She continued to create until her death at the age of 81 in 1962.

If you have no idea of who this truly innovative and creative woman artist is, it is not surprising since, up until now, the male dominated art world has tended to ignore the work of women artists. It is wonderful to see the work of past female artists finally being recognised!

The first ever solo exhibition of Goncharova’s work in this country is currently on at Tate Modern and runs until 8th September 2019. Since many people will wonder who this woman is, this talk is designed to provide a background to her and the events and influences of the period.

Portrait of Natalia Goncharova.(1915). Mikhail Larianov. Source Wikipedia.

When it comes to solo exhibitions of the work of women artists, they used to be as rare as hen’s teeth. However, this is a forewarning because in September 2020, the National Gallery will be hosting the first solo exhibition of the work of 17th century artist Artemisia Ghentileschi in September 2020 – another of my artistic heroines.

Friday 19th July at 11 a.m. and 7.30 p.m.

The evening session is full.

Telephone 01372 272235 or email  to book.

£10 inc refreshments. The same price since 2007.

30th August – Art Nouveau –

Details to follow

27th September – Rene Lalique

Details to Follow