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Chagall, Kandinsky, Malevich and the Russian Avantgarde
9 October 1998 to 10 January 1999

In the period between 1905 and 1920 a fundamental change took place within the arts in Russia. The inception and spread of abstraction in the late 1910s and early 1920s has often been examined under headings such as "Constructivism" or "Revolutionary art", yet it is at least as fascinating to explore the developments during the first and the beginning of second decade which led up to abstraction.

While the Russian avant-garde sought orientation on the one hand in the most recent developments in France (Fauvism, Cubism, Matisse), it also cultivated its close links with pictorial traditions rooted in folk culture: Kandinsky with icons, Goncharova/Larionov with illustrated broadsheets and folk art, Machkov with folkloric advertising signs.

This exhibition focuses on the years of upheaval leading to the culmination of abstraction, in other words on the period from 1905 to 1918. The goal shared by all of these artists was to achieve a synthesis of elements drawn from folk culture, modern trends and the pursuit of abstraction, and shape an art for the new, technological century.

Chagall, Kandinsky and Malevich were the dominant figures, surrounded by a vast number of highly notable artists who founded groups such as "World of Art", "Knave of diamonds" or "Donkey’s tail". The exhibition concentrates on the most significant artists and in doing so attempts to illustrate the wide variety of artistic approaches taken. Besides paintings by the three artists already mentioned, the exhibition includes works by Alexandra Exter, Pavel Filonov, Natalia Goncharova, Ivan Klyun, Mikhail Larionov, Vladimir Lebedev, Ilya Machkov, Lyubov Popova, Alexander Rodchenko and Olga Rozanova.

The Hamburg Kunsthalle will show the best works created by these 13 artists during the period of upheaval. The majority of exhibits have been loaned from the extensive collection of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, and are supplemented by numerous, largely unknown paintings from Russian provincial museums. A total of 100 works will be shown.

The exhibition has received the generous support of the Hamburgische Landesbank.

Second venue: Kunsthaus Zürich, January 29 to April 25, 1999.

Hamburger Kunsthalle Glockengießerwall 20095 Hamburg
Telephone 040 - 428 131 200 Facsimile 040 - 428 54 34 09