Organic Art. The Avant-Garde in Petrograd
Exhibition "Organic Art. The Avant-Garde in Petrograd”
MOMus-Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection
Moni Lazariston, Thessaloniki
June 5, 2022 - February 26, 2023 | EXTENDED UNTIL 21 MAY 2023
Opening: Sunday 5 June, 2022, 20:00
Theremin concert by Lydia Kavina: Sunday, June 5, 2022, 21:00
The opening of the exhibition will take place on Sunday, June 5, 2022, at 20:00 and will be followed by a music concert with theremin, the world's first electronic music instrument, by internationally renowned musician Lydia Kavina, a student of theremin inventor Lev Theremin.
The Russian avant-garde has been an important synthetic artistic phenomenon in the history of the 20th century. Taking the Russian avant-garde as a starting point, MOMus-Museum of Modern Art – Costakis collection examines art in a range of scientific, research and laboratory activities that place music, literature, architecture, cinema, theater, dance and their dialogue with the sciences as well as the relation between Art and Nature, in a common trajectory. One of the best examples of the synthesis of the arts is the School of Organic Culture in Petrograd/Leningrad under the directorship and theoretic supervision of Mikhail Matiushin (1861-1934).
The “Organic Art” exhibition focuses on the study of the Synthesis of the Arts and particularly in the dialogue between the visual arts with poetry, movement and sound as well as the relation between Art and Nature. At the same time, innovations in the field of Art Education initiated and applied at GINKhUK (Leningrad State Institute of Artistic Education) are presented.
The exhibition refers to the course taught in Petrograd/Leningrad in the 1920s by the painter and musician Mikhail Matiushin. For Matiushin, art exists in nature, in the microcosm and the macrocosm and a special training of our senses is needed in order to locate it. According to Matiushin, the Theory of Extended Viewing can become such training tool. Painting cannot be statical, it is constantly transformed and it is closely connected with movement and sound.
Mikhail Matiushin was a professional musician, experimental music composer and a painter. As a professor in the Department of Organic Culture of the State Institute of Artistic Education (1923-1926) he proposed to his students a system of understanding the world which he named ZORVED from the initials of the Russian words "Viewing" and “Knowledge”.
The observation of nature and its changes in color, light, motion and sound within the maximum activation of the five senses is recorded by a series of experiments that were then developed and evolved by his own students. The exhibition presents approximately 250 works of art as well as important archival material.
Informative material in the exhibition is also connected with the works by Natalia Enman, a member of the dance and music group “Geptakhor”, a dancer and painter influenced by the Isidora Duncan and connected with the teachings of Organic Art. The exhibition presents, among others, the work of five important but not so well known and studied women artists of the three first decades of 20th century: Elena Guro, Ksenia Ender, Maria Ender, Ludmila Ivanova, Natalia Enman.
The works and archival material come from the Costakis collection of MOMus-Museum of Modern Art. The works by Liudmila Ivanova are a generous donation to MOMus-Museum of Modern Art by professors John E. Bowlt and Nicoletta Misler.
The experimental sound machines from the 1920s are reconstructed especially for the exhibition by Andrei Smirnov, historian of the music of Russian Avant-garde and director of the Theremin Center.
The term “Organic Art/Culture” was coined by Matiushin himself in 1923 and was based on the theory that the world is a strictly structured system governed by laws, which is in perpetual motion and has its own biological rhythm, even when it comes to inorganic matter such as crystal or stone. “If the life and development of the smallest resembles the life of the infinitely large, and their essence, or their soul, can be expressed, and if the smallest holds within it the largest, then our understanding of all phenomena is inadequate and all our ideas about nature and morals will have to be revised”, wrote Matiushin in 1912, who was influenced by the views of his wife, painter and author Elena Guro, who died in 1913. In the 1920s, Matiushin focused a great deal on observations and experiments in the Department of Organic Culture, his main project being the synthesis of sciences and arts. The mission of his students was to bring nature back into art. Matiushin believed that artists should look for realistic space, not in the reality that is plainly visible, but in the microcosm and macrocosm. The four Ender siblings (Boris, Maria, Ksenia, Yuri) and Nikolai Grinberg worked as his assistants in the Department of Organic Culture. The artists conducted biological laboratory research combined with music lessons and concentration exercises in order to perfect the senses, aspiring to achieve what Matiushin called “extended viewing”. In the work of the artists of the Department of Organic Culture, the key component of their paintings is light, which in turn creates colour.
Maria Tsantsanoglou, historian of the Russian avant-garde, director of MOMus-Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection, Thessaloniki
Angeliki Charistou, historian of the Russian avant-garde, chief curator at MOMus-Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection,Thessaloniki
Boris Ender, Ksenia Ender, Maria Ender, Yuri Ender, Pavel Filonov, Nikolai Grinberg, Elena Guro, Liudmila Ivanova, Mikhail Matiushin, Nikolai Suetin, Vsevolod Sulimo-Samuilo
An international scientific team collaborated for the exhibition:
John Bowlt, historian of Russian avant-garde, Professor Emeritus USC, Los Angeles
Nicoletta Misler, historian of Russian avant-garde, Professor Emerita of the University of Oriental Studies, Naples
Andrei Smirnov, historian of the Russian avant-garde music, director of Theremin Center, Moscow
Maria Tsantsanoglou, historian of the Russian avant-garde, Director of MOMus-Museum of Modern Art, Costakis Collection, Thessaloniki
Angeliki Charistou, historian of the Russian avant-garde, chief curator at MOMus-Museum of Modern Art, Costakis Collection, Thessaloniki
The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalogue.
John Bowlt, Professor Emeritus USC, Los Angeles
Nicoletta Misler, Professor Emerita of the University of Oriental Studies, Naples
Alla Povelikhina, Art historian, specialist in the study of Organic Culture, Kolomna
Andrei Smirnov, Director of Theremin Center, Moscow
Margareta Tillberg, Adjunct Professor Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University - Associate Professor, Department of Art History, Uppsala University
Maria Tsantsanoglou, Director of MOMus-Museum of Modern Art, Costakis Collection, Thessaloniki
Isabel Wünsche, Professor of Art and Art History, Humanities and Social Sciences, Jacobs University Bremen
Concert, 5 June 2022 at 21.00
Lydia Kavina lives in London and is one of the most acclaimed thereminists in the world. She was taught the theremin by its inventor, Lev Theremin. Theremin or Thereminvox is one of the first electronic music instruments (1919) which produces sound with the help of electromagnetic waves. Her concert reflects the influential role of sound experimentations in the years of the Russian avant-garde.
Concert Programme (48')
Lydia Kavina - Oxford time
Mark Grant - Bird of Paradise
Lydia Kavina - Fata Morgana
Gabriel Prokofiev - Monday
Jorge Campos - Glissandi
Lydia Ayers - Rock Art
Stanislav Kreichi - Submerging
Maurice Ravel - Bolero