Aleksandra Ekster

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Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Ekster
Alexandra Exter.jpg
Birth nameAleksandra Aleksandrovna Grigorovich
Born(1882-01-06)6 January 1882
Białystok, Poland
Died17 March 1949(1949-03-17) (aged 67)
Fontenay-aux-Roses, France
NationalityRussia
FieldPainting, graphic arts, stage design, costume design
MovementFuturism, cubism, constructivism
 
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This article is about the Russian-Ukrainian painter. For other uses, see Exter (disambiguation).
Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Ekster
Alexandra Exter.jpg
Birth nameAleksandra Aleksandrovna Grigorovich
Born(1882-01-06)6 January 1882
Białystok, Poland
Died17 March 1949(1949-03-17) (aged 67)
Fontenay-aux-Roses, France
NationalityRussia
FieldPainting, graphic arts, stage design, costume design
MovementFuturism, cubism, constructivism

Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Ekster (Russian: Александра Александровна Экстер, Ukrainian: Олександра Олександрівна Екстер; 6 January 1882 – 17 March 1949), also known as Alexandra Exter, was a Russian-French painter (Cubo-Futurist, Suprematist, Constructivist) and designer.

Biography[edit]

Childhood[edit]

She was born Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Grigorovich in Białystok, Imperial Russia (now Poland) to a wealthy Belarusian family. Her father, Aleksandr Grigorovich, was a wealthy Belarusian businessman. Her mother was Greek. Young Aleksandra received an excellent private education, studying languages, music, art, and taking private drawing lessons. Soon her parents moved to Kyiv (Kiev), and Asya, as called by her friends, attended Kiev gymnasium St. Olga and Kiev Art School, where she studied with Alexander Bogomazov and Alexander Archipenko. Her teachers included Mykola Pymonenko. Aleksandra graduated in painting from Kiev Art School in 1906.

Marriage[edit]

Theatre curtain designed by Ekster.

In 1908, Aleksandra Grigorovich married a successful Kiev lawyer, Nikolai Evgenyevich Ekster. The Eksters belonged to cultural and intellectual elite of Kiev.She spent several months with her husband in Paris, and there she attended Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Montparnasse. From 1908 to 1924 she intermittently lived in Kiev, St. Petersburg, Odessa, Paris, Rome and Moscow.[1]

Costumes designed by Ekster.

Kiev[edit]

Her painting studio in the attic at 27 Funduklievskaya Street, now Khmelnytsky Street, was a rallying stage for Kiev's intellectual elite.In the attic in her studio there worked future luminaries of world decorative art Vadim Meller, Anatole Petrytsky and P.Tchelitchew . There she was visited by poets and writers, such as Anna Akhmatova, Ilia Ehrenburg, and Osip Mandelstam, dancers Bronislava Nijinska and Elsa Kruger, as well as many artists Alexander Bogomazov, Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine, and students, such as Grigori Kozintsev, Sergei Yutkevich, and Aleksei Kapler among many others. In 1908 she participated in an exhibition together with members of the group Zveno (Link) organized by David Burliuk, Wladimir Burliuk and others in Kiev.

Paris[edit]

In Paris, Aleksandra Ekster was a personal friend of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who introduced her to Gertrude Stein.

She exhibited six works at the Salon de la Section d'Or, Galerie La Boétie, Paris, October 1912, with Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Marcel Duchamp and others.[2]

In 1914, Ekster participated in the Salon des Indépendants exhibitions in Paris, together with Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Archipenko, Vadym Meller, Sonia Delaunay-Terk and other French and Russian artists. In that same year she participated with the “Russians” Archipenko, Koulbine and Rozanova in the International Futurist Exhibition in Rome. In 1915 she joined the group of avant-garde artists Supremus.Her friend introduced her to a new art poet Apollinaire who took her to the Picasso's workshop. There she found a new philosophy of art. "In her Parisian household, conspicuous peculiar combination of European culture with Ukrainian life. On the walls between Picasso and Braque paintings there can be seen Ukrainian embroidery, on the floor was a Ukrainian carpet, to the table they served clay pots, colorful majolica plates of dumplings. " This is Alice Koonen's memories, actress of the Moscow Chamber Theatre, where Alexandra put their best performances, "Salome," "Romeo and Juliet".

Russian avant-garde[edit]

Costume design for Romeo and Juliette. 1921. M.T. Abraham Foundation.

Ekster absorbed from many sources and cultures in order to develop her own original style. In 1915–1916 she worked in the peasant craft cooperatives in the villages Skoptsi and Verbovka along with Kazimir Malevich, Yevgenia Pribylskaya, Natalia Davidova, Nina Genke, Liubov Popova, Ivan Puni, Olga Rozanova, Nadezhda Udaltsova and others. Ekster later founded a teaching and production workshop (MDI) in Kiev (1918–1920). Vadym Meller, Anatol Petrytsky, Kliment Red'ko, Tchelitchew, Shifrin, Nikritin worked there. Also during this period she was one of the leading stage designers of Alexander Tairov's Chamber Theatre.[3]

In 1919 together with other avant-garde artists Kliment Red'ko and Nina Genke-Meller she decorated the streets and squares of Kiev and Odessa in abstract style for Revolution Festivities. She worked with Vadym Meller as a costume designer in a Ballet Studio of the dancer Bronislava Nijinska (Vaslav Nijinsky's sister).

In 1921 she became a director of the elementary course Color at the Higher Artistic-Technical Workshop (VKhUTEMAS) in Moscow, a position she held until 1924. Her work was displayed alongside that of other Constructivist artists at the 5x5=25 exhibition held in Moscow in 1921.

Emigration[edit]

In 1924 Aleksandra Ekster and her husband emigrated to France and settled in Paris, where she initially became a Professor at the Academie Moderne. From 1926 to 1930 Ekster was a professor at Fernand Léger's Académie d'Art Contemporain. In 1933 she began creating beautiful and original illuminated manuscripts (gouache on paper), perhaps the most important works of the last phase of her life. The "Callimaque" manuscript (c. 1939, the text being a French translation of a hymn by Hellenistic poet Callimachus) is widely regarded as her masterpiece. In 1936 she participated in the exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art in New York and went on to have solo exhibitions in Prague and in Paris. She was a book illustrator for the publishing company Flammarion in Paris from 1936 until her death in the Paris suburb of Fontenay-aux-Roses. During the past few decades her reputation has increased dramatically, as have the prices of her works. As a consequence, several fakes have appeared on the market in recent years.[4][5] Virtually all of the recent monographs on Exter were published for the sole purpose of making such fakes appear to be authentic.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christina Lodder. "Alexandra Exter". Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  2. ^ Exhibit catalog for Salon de "La Section d'Or", 1912, p. 16, nos. 180-185. Walter Pach papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
  3. ^ "Design for a Constructivist stage setting". Victoria & Albert Museum. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Press Release" (PDF) (Press release). Alexandra Exter Association. July 2, 2006. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Faking of the Russian Avant-Garde". ARTnews. July 1, 2009. Retrieved September 16, 2012. 

External links[edit]