The Russian avant-garde is one of the trends in the art of modernism, developed widely in the early 20th century. Its main distinguishing feature is the sharp contrast of new traditions with the old ones. The avant-garde is characterized by the denial of all the foundations on which art was based earlier; this trend rejects any manifestation of the continuity of artistic traditions.
The term «Russian avant-garde» unites the radical trends of Russian art originated in 1907–1914 and reached maturity in the post-revolutionary years.
In the twentieth century, the avant-garde became a powerful cultural phenomenon marked a grandiose change in world art culture.
The evolution of the Russian avant-garde makes it possible to conditionally distinguish three periods:
− The first lasts from 1910 to 1915 and is known as Cubo-Futurism.
− The second lasts from the end of 1915 to 1924 and means the highest rise of the avant-garde. In these years, Suprematism, Constructivism, production art and other movements are added to Cubo-futurism.
− The third period lasts from 1925 to 1932, when the avant-garde extends to all forms of art. However, it gradually disappears and in 1932 ceases to exist.
The emergence of the Russian avant-garde takes place against the backdrop of an exceptionally intense artistic life, both internal and external, which Russia has led since the end of the last century. During these years, numerous exhibitions of the latest trends in foreign art are organized. Many Russian artists make a pilgrimage to Paris and other western centers .
The «Blue Horseman» group, in which Russian artists, such as V. Kandinsky, M. Verevkina, A. Yavlensky play an active role, appears In Munich. A great variety of artistic movements reigns In Russia. The central place is occupied by the «World of Art», uniting supporters of the most diverse styles from Old Russian to Symbolism. To his right are proponents of the realists of the Wanderers.
The main centers for the formation of the Russian avant-garde were the St. Petersburg Youth Union and the Moscow «Jack of Diamonds», which included many future avant-garde artists, such as N. Altman, V. and D. Burlyuki, K. Malevich, V. Tatlin, P. Filonov, M. Chagall and A. Exter .
The Russian avant-garde was characterized by a combination of the traditions of Russian art and the techniques of Western European painting.
The avant-garde was aimed at a radical transformation of human consciousness by means of art, it was aimed at an aesthetic revolution that would destroy the established spiritual state of existing society, while its artistic strategy and tactics were much more decisive. The avant-garde was not satisfied with the creation of exquisite “foci” of beauty and mystery opposed to the low materiality of being. It introduced into its images the crude matter of life, “street poetics”, the chaotic rhythm of the modern city, the nature that it endowed with powerful creative and destructive force. The principle of the «anti-art» was repeatedly emphasized in the works of the avant-garde, thereby rejecting both the old, more traditional styles and the concept of art in general. The avant-garde was constantly attracted by the «strange worlds» of new science and technology. It used plot-symbolic motifs, but also many designs and techniques. On the other hand, the “barbarian” archaic, primitive and folklore became increasingly used in art. The avant-garde has given unprecedented sharpness to the world dialogue of cultures.
In general, the avant-garde is characteristic of all transitional stages in the history of artistic culture and individual types of art. However, the concept of the avant-garde acquired the meaning of the term to denote a powerful phenomenon of artistic culture in the twentieth century. First of all, the avant-garde is the reaction of artistic and aesthetic consciousness to a global turning point in cultural and civilizational processes caused by the scientific and technological progress of the last century. The avant-garde is an extremely colorful and contradictory phenomenon. The characteristic and general features of most avant-garde manifestations include their consciously pointed experimental character, a revolutionary destructive pathos regarding traditional values, a sharp protest against everything that seemed to their creators and participants conservative, philistine, bourgeois and academic. One more feature of the avant-garde is the unbridled desire to create a fundamentally new in everything and the desire to blur the boundaries between traditional forms of art .
The Russian avant-garde was a continuation and the highest stage of Western modernism, which became a logical continuation of the entire previous evolution of Western culture and civilization. The Russian avant-garde was destined to bring the logical end to everything that begun by Western modernism and the avant-garde. It is marked by unprecedented scale, depth and radicalism. It was largely facilitated by the prevailing historical conditions of revolutionary Russia, as well as some features of Russian culture, such as phenomena such as cosmism.
The Russian avant-garde completely departs from traditional aesthetics, creating art that is approaching pure, absolute creation. An artist no longer needs any external model. He does not imitate or copy anything, but shows the ability to create, starting from certain primary elements or from nothing .
The Russian avant-garde most fully realized the desire of Western modernism and the avant-garde to experiment and search for a new one. It was facilitated by the fact that he unconditionally accepted modern science, the revolutionary achievements which became an inspiring example in its own creative pursuits.
To the greatest extent, the avant-garde went beyond the framework of the artistic style and became the real philosophy of the new world, the path to which he saw in a radical break with the past. It is all directed towards the future, and his futurism rests on the faith that comes from the Enlightenment in the unlimited ability of man to remake not only art and society, but also the entire Universe. For this, the Russian avant-garde was ready to sacrifice itself to dissolve in the future world unity, in which there will be a synthesis of all the arts and their fusion with life .
In the main and most essential, both in theoretical and practical terms, the Russian avant-garde has exhausted the concept of art as an absolute creation. Therefore, the postwar neo-modernism with all the many currents arising in it, could no longer add anything truly new and original.
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