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Artists Natalia Goncharova
Natalia Goncharova Photo

Natalia Goncharova

Russian Painter, Writer, Set and Costume Designer, and Illustrator

Movements and Styles: Rayonism, Russian Futurism, Performance Art, Proto-Feminist Artists, Neo-Primitivism

Born: June 21, 1881 - Nagaevo, Tula Province, Russia

Died: October 17, 1962 - Paris, France

Natalia Goncharova Timeline

Quotes

"We have learned much from Western artists, but where do they draw their inspiration if not from the East?"
Natalia Goncharova
"One cannot forget something which is no longer outside of you but within, no longer in the past but in the present."
Natalia Goncharova
"If I extol the art of my country, then it is because I think that it ... should occupy a more honorable place than it has done hitherto..."
Natalia Goncharova
"I find those people ridiculous who advocate individuality and who assume there is some value in the 'I' even when it is extremely limited."
Natalia Goncharova
"Cubism is a positive phenomenon, but it is not altogether a new one, especially as far as Russia is concerned. The Scythians made their stone maidens in this hallowed style. Wonderful painted wooden dolls are sold at our fairs ... in France, too, it was the Gothic and African figure sculptures that served as the springboard for Cubist painting. Over the last decade, Picasso has been the most important, most talented artist working in the Cubist manner, whereas in Russia it has been yours truly."
Natalia Goncharova
"Establish no boundaries or limits for oneself in the sense of artistic pursuits. Always use all modern achievements and breakthroughs in art."
Natalia Goncharova
"Cézanne and icons are equivalent, but my works, which I painted under Cézanne's influence and under the influence of the icons, are not the same at all...I am by no means European."
Natalia Goncharova
"To repeat all of the good and idiotic things that have been said of my sisters a thousand times already is infinitely boring and useless, so I want to say a few words not about them, but to them: Believe in yourself more, in your strengths and rights before mankind and God, believe that everybody, including women, has an intellect in the form of the image of God, that there are no bounds to the human will and mind."
Natalia Goncharova
"You can understand the most abstract of things only in the forms you see most often, and also through whatever works of art you've seen."
Natalia Goncharova
"...during all eras, the subject depicted was and will be important - as important as how it is depicted."
Natalia Goncharova

"To apprehend the world about us in all its brilliance and diversity, and to bear in mind both its inner and outer content."

Natalia Goncharova Signature

Synopsis

The work of Natalia Goncharova oscillates between tunes of the sacred and notes of the profane. From an influential, wealthy, and musical family, the artist's own interests lay with Russia's rural workers and by seeming contradiction, with a cast of otherworldly characters. In her paintings, peasants portrayed in the throws of their labor - cutting hay, shaving ice, washing, and weaving - are imbued with monumental dignity. Through repetitive everyday tasks, Goncharova observed the same celestial strength more commonly associated with religious figures, and in this sense merged the realms of heaven and earth in her pictures. Alongside her lifelong love and fellow artist, Mikhail Larionov, Goncharova was part of the Russian avant garde generation involved in a relentless exploration of different visual styles and shifting ideological standpoints - eventually pioneering Rayonism. Not adverse to working in dialogue with popular culture, the artist worked closely with her friend and theater director, Sergei Diaghilev, (of Ballets Russes fame) as a costume and set designer; it was in this role that Goncharova became most well known in her later years.

Key Ideas

In her early work, Goncharova combines a Cézanne-inspired brushstroke, a Fauvist love of color and certain repeated motifs (most notably the circular dance formation) shared with Matisse, and a similar worldview (the religious paired with the secular) to that of Gauguin. Such assimilation of these three powerful influences produces work that is at once decorative and empregnated with meaning.
Orthodox Christian icons commonly found in homes and churches throughout Russia were well known and loved by Goncharova. Like many artisans and believers before her, she too painted religious scenes as 'gifts from above' that materialized intuitively following ongoing devotional dialogue with the Lord. Adding slight subversions to her 'icons' - for example the blank scrolls of The Evangelists (1911) - she revealed intentions to agitate national tradition and propose alternative, less didactic, and more open approaches to spirituality.
Goncharova expresses a particular interest in 'women's work'. Women are often depicted washing and preparing linen, harvesting fruit, and planting new crops. In stature, ordinary people (both men and women) are painted solid and hefty in reference to their position as the pillars of society, yet it is specifically women - historically sculpted as architectural caryatids - that appear most often in Goncharova's oeuvre as the load bearers of society.
As a couple, Goncharova and Larinov set a precedent for performance art that was not further developed until during the 1970s. Together, the artists would appear naked in public with their bodies painted in a similar collaboration to that of Marina Abramovic and Ulay. Their experiments also bear parallel to those of Yayoi Kusama; she too blurred boundaries of so-called propriety by appearing with her body used as canvas and her skin painted with spots (it was usually flowers for Goncharova).

Biography

Natalia Goncharova Photo

Childhood

Natalia Goncharova was born in the town of Nagaevo in the Tula Province in Russia to an elite Russian family. Her father, Sergei Goncharov, worked as an architect and was a descendent of Aleksandr Pushkin, the legendary poet and novelist credited as the patriarch of Russian literature and a revered symbol of national identity. Natalia was named after Pushkin's wife, in honor of her family's history. Goncharova's mother, Ekaterina Il'ichna Beliaeva came from a family that had been musically influential, and included a number of significant religious figures who were renowned musical patrons. As a young girl, Goncharova lived on her grandmother's large estate in the country, which gave her a lifelong appreciation of village life and nature. Her nanny often took her to church, which instilled a lasting spirituality. In spite of their noble lineage and significant land holdings, the family suffered financial strain. In 1892, when Goncharova was ten, her father moved the family to Moscow in search of greater financial opportunities.

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Natalia Goncharova Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Natalia Goncharova
Interactive chart with Natalia Goncharova's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Paul GauguinPaul Gauguin
Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Henri de Toulouse-LautrecHenri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Robert DelaunayRobert Delaunay

Personal Contacts

Mikhail LarionovMikhail Larionov
Olga RozanovaOlga Rozanova
Sergei DiaghilevSergei Diaghilev

Movements

FauvismFauvism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
CubismCubism
OrphismOrphism
FuturismFuturism

Influences on Artist
Natalia Goncharova
Natalia Goncharova
Years Worked: 1903 - 1950s
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Vladimir TatlinVladimir Tatlin
Kazimir MalevichKazimir Malevich
Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky
Guillaume ApollinaireGuillaume Apollinaire
Lyubov PopovaLyubov Popova

Personal Contacts

Aleksandr Shevchenko
Mikhail LarionovMikhail Larionov
Sergei DiaghilevSergei Diaghilev

Movements

RayonismRayonism
SuprematismSuprematism
ConstructivismConstructivism
Feminist ArtFeminist Art
Performance ArtPerformance Art

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Dr. Rebecca Baillie

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Dr. Rebecca Baillie
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