In response to the Royal Academy of Arts current exhibition Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932, this article will address the versatility and imagination of Russian art. The Tsarist rule ended in February 1917, and until Stalin brutally suppressed his people and their creative freedom in 1932, Russian art gained a surge of creativity and energy. In this fifteen year period, the forms that Russian art could take on were limitless.
Kasimir Malevich is paramount to the discussion of Russian revolutionary art. Born in 1879, his career was shrouded in war, politics, and revolution. Early experimentation led him to the development of suprematism, characterised by abstract geometric shapes and stark colours. Black Square can be seen as the epitome of one of these works, and is often considered the first work that wasn’t actually of something. The painting was first shown in The Last Futurist Exhibition 0,10, the exhibition that inaugurated the Suprematist movement, in 1915, after months being hidden in secrecy. The work itself, consisting of a 79.5 by 79.5 centimetre black square surrounded by a white border, was placed high up in the Petrograd room, stretched across a corner of the wall. This placement was similar to the sacred location of a Russian Orthodox icon of a saint in a traditional Russian home. In this way, Malevich elevates the status of Black Square to be the overriding symbol of the new style, and the star of the exhibition.
Cubism was a revolutionary new approach to representing reality. It is generally thought to have begun in 1907, with Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon, which included elements of the cubist style. The name was coined from Louis Vauxcelles comment upon seeing Georges Braque’s paintings, that they reduced everything to ‘geometric outlines, to cubes’. Cubism stands out from other styles due to its concern to break objects and figures down into distinct planes. The artists of the style, including Braque and Picasso, aimed to show different viewpoints at the same time, and within the same space, and so suggest a three dimensional form. Braque was particularly influenced by Cezanne’s multi-perspectival ideas. Edward Fry, in his Cubism 1907-1908: An Early Eyewitness Account illustrates that ‘a comparison of the works of Picasso and Braque during 1908 reveals that the effect of his encounter with Picasso was more to accelerate and intensify Braque’s exploration of Cézanne’s ideas, rather than to divert his thinking in any essential way.’ The works didn’t often create the illusion of depth, because the two-dimensional quality of the canvas was brought to light. This was a revolutionary break from the European tradition of creating the illusion of real space by using devices like linear perspective, that had prevailed from the Renaissance onwards.
The general period we have labeled "Renaissance" continues without any sharp stylistic break (except for the interrupting episode of Mannerism) into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We call the art of this later period Baroque, although no one Baroque style or set of stylistic principles actually has been defined. The origin of the word is not clear. It may come from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning an irregularly shaped pearl. Certainly the term originally was used especially in connection with post in a disparaging sense, Renaissance architecture, which nineteenth-century critics perceived as decadent Classical: unstructural, overorna mented, theatrical, and grotesque. The term Baroque included in the art-historical vocabulary for many years a a blanket designation for the art of the period roughly covering 1600 to 1750 and encompassing the careers of some of the greatest painters, sculptors, and architect the Western world has ever produced.
Scholars gradually came to see that the Baroque styles were quite different from those of the Renaissance. The Baroque, for example, looks dynamic; Renaissance styles are relatively static. The historical reality lies in the flow of stylistic change, and Baroque art is a useful classification for isolating the tendencies and products of stylistic change. We shall designate here as Baroque those traits that the styles of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries seam to have in common. We have earlier applied adjective "baroque" retrospectively to examples of ancient sculpture and architecture that appear to modern art historians to have strong stylistic affinities with seventeenth and eighteenth-century monuments, for example.
Like the art it produced, the Baroque era was manifold -
It was an age of expansion following on an age of discovery, and its expansion led to still further discovery. The rising national powers colonized the globe Wars between Renaissance cities were supplanted by wars between continental empire and the history of Europe was influenced by battles fought in the North American wilderness and in India. The art of the Baroque period reflects this growing nationalism. In France, for example, it centers around the powerful monarchy; in Italy, it is the Catholic art of the popes, in opposition to the art of the Protestant North.
In preparation for the upcoming lecture at the Victoria and Albert museum on the 25th, 28th, 31st of March
Warhol had many assistants including Gerard Malanga, Brigid Berlin and Ronald Tavel. His assistants' approach was very significant, and his workshop ethos was both generated as a result of and influenced by his technique. His assistants allude to the techniques in which his works were produced, and his thought process. Marco Livingston states that Warhol ‘presented himself merely as a mediator’, putting a lot of onus on his assistants. Warhol says, ‘I was never embarrassed about asking someone, literally, ‘What should I paint?’ because Pop comes from the outside, and how is asking someone for ideas any different from looking for them in a magazine?’
Warhol barely planned his compositions according to Malanga, who said that ‘His vagueness was pretty precise’. Perhaps, he wanted to create a likeness in all of his work, to imitate his opinion that 'everyone should be a machine'. He painted white makeup onto his models, including Elizabeth Taylor, to anonymise her features and make her appear more cartoon-like, and he wanted more people to take up screen-printing so that his work couldn't be identified as his own. Livingston also says that 'Warhol devised numerous ways — both obvious and devious — of creating surfaces that looked as though they had barely been touched by his hand. Not only because it was part of his style to remain enigmatic but because he saw it as one of his roles to give the critics a job to do.' He replaced his mother's trademark signature on his work with 'a signature worthy of the Invisible Man: a simple rubber stamp of the type used by, or on behalf of, officials too busy or remote from their work to be able to sign their own names to it.' For all of these reasons, we get the impression that Warhol wanted anonymity and banality in his works from the Pop Art era, and that that was what came to epitomise Andy Warhol's paintings.