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статьиPost-avant-garde / Russian art of the 1920s-1930s

To make his paintings more impressive, Shchipirsvn experimented — he was adding wax to his paints to make them transparent and radiant. Several years before, Alexander Shchipitsyn worked in the workshop of Vladimir Tatlin, where a famous aerial vehicle called Letatlin was being built on the basis of Leonardo’s drawings. [“Letatlin” comes from “letat,” the Russian word for “fly,” and the name Tatlin.]

Magdalina Verigo "Boys on Grass" 1921

Magdalina Verigo’s “Boys on Grass” is the product of dialogue with the early Italian Renaissance — one may think of Giotto’s frescoes — and has links to Russian and Byzantine icon painting. The idea of the Trinity is obviously behind it — an ellipse which was a nearly equilateral cross within it is reminiscent of other, famous versions of the story. Some of the elements of the painting look like halos: three boys or three angels asleep in the field, and their sleep is simultaneously a flight -there is nothing tying them down to any specific space. Here the subject matter of a work of art becomes a human experience — they are asleep and flying up into the sky. Art clich?s assume the format of daily life.

Assertion of artistic convention was not the purpose of 20th-century art. The reason for recourse to the history of art was not a desire to give the current times a higher status. The aim was to prove that reality has wider limits than it was believed to have. Sleep was not about dreamy desires. It was a borderline conflict and the discovery of another world — a “new world,” to use the habitual 1920s term. Via the sleep of a contemporary person, the angels of the Trinity and the hosts of cultural meanings that they bring along penetrate into the present day and become Its regular components.

The same motif runs through Leonid Chupyatov’s “Dream”: the world is changing and disclosing itself as the world of childhood — a man is unstable but free in it. There’s too much about this world that one doesn’t know, and what one does know falls apart before one’s very eyes. The lit-up windows, little islands of something common and well known, or seems to be well known, stay down below while night, in other words darkness and uncertainty, is looking into the sleeper’s face. Chupyatov was not averse to a degree of pathos, which is particularly evident in his masterpiece “Worker,” one of the most typical works of the Russian art of the late twenties.

In “Worker,” the theme of labor, which was so common in the art of those years and becamean opportunistic feature of it, amounts to a description of a magical or religious act. Is it a pipe the worker is carrying? Rather, he is like a shaman or pagan priest holding a tambourine, a symbol of the sun. Man raises the sun above his head and re-creates the Universe with his own hands. There is something alarming and . акшпреутштп фищге ершы pathos, probably what Chupyatov’s contemporaries called “the spirit of the times.”

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