A fascinating, narrative biography of the art movement that transformed the modern world, tracing the lives and activities of the key protagonists as they set about a revolution in art.
October 1917. The Russian Revolution wipes the old tsarist empire off the map. Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Lyubov Popova, Alexander Rodchenko, Olga Rozanova, Vladimir Tatlin and other avant-garde artists participate in the revolutionary struggle, transforming inner cities with their progressive murals, posters, installations and performances. The new political leaders soon want nothing to do with these radical artists. While their reputation is growing in Europe, they experience increasing pressure in the Soviet Union.
Against a background of violent social and political change, author Sjeng Scheijen describes with compassion and humour events that shaped the artistic revolution in this, the first illustrated biography to relate the rise and fall of the leading figures of the Russian avant-garde. From philosophical and political subversion, involvement with the Bolshevik administration and links with Europe, to violent repression, incarcerations and torture in the 1930s under Stalin, events are narrated through artists’ personal memories drawn from existing and important new archival findings. Excerpts from diaries and correspondence reveal the extent of the avant-garde’s energy and determination to survive a totalitarian regime, civil war, hunger and terror.
Scheijen’s vivid, dynamic style, authoritative command of his source material and extensive original research provides exceptional insight into the lives of these avant-gardists, whose art left a lasting legacy that transformed modern art.