Russian Avant-Garde

Ahmanson Building, Level 2
April 7, 2012–September 16, 2012

The culture of the Russian avant-garde flourished immediately before and after the Revolution of 1917, generating one of the great art movements of the twentieth century. Artists achieved breakthroughs in painting, sculpture, theater, film, photography, literature, decorative arts, architecture, and book design. The movement was marked by experimentation, cross-fertilization among all the arts, and concerns about sociopolitical issues. With government-imposed isolation from the rest of Europe, Russian artists looked to each other for inspiration, producing an atmosphere of strength and unification.

The leading artists of this period, including Kazimir Malevich, El Lissitzky, and Alexsandr Rodchenko, shared a belief in political revolution; they aimed to produce a new art for the people, not the elite, that would contribute to society and break with the past. In 1934, Stalinist decrees forbade all art outside of socialist realism, thus ending the avant-garde movement in Russia.

All of the works in the exhibition are from LACMA’s collection. (The museum acquired these works after organizing the 1980 exhibition The Avant-Garde in Russia, 1910-1930: New Perspectives, one of the first large-scale presentations of this movement in the United States.)

Image: Aleksander Rodchenko, Constructivists and Poets, 1924, Photomontage, Unframed 5 1/8 x 6 2/4 in., Ralph M. Parsons Fund.