Italian literary prizewinners for 2017-2018

We have customarily drawn attention to the major literary prizewinners in Italy, highlighting the winners of five important prizes. We last focused on the 2016 winners. Since our last blog post, those five major prizes have been awarded as follows:

The Strega prize: awarded in 2017 to Paolo Cognetti for his novel Le otto montagne (C213.c.429)

The Bagutta prize: awarded in 2017 to Vivian Lamarque for her novel Madre d’inverno (C205.d.4406) and in early 2018 to Helena Kaneczek for her novel La ragazza con la Leica (C213.c.6240) Continue reading

UNOVIS, Vitebsk’s avant-garde Union of the New Art

Front cover

Later this week, on 19 and 20 April, the Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Centre and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, will hold an international conference in Cambridge on The People’s Art School and Unovis in Vitebsk.  Vitebsk, in present-day Belarus, was the home of an extraordinary avant-garde art school at which Marc Chagall (the town’s most famous son), Kazimir Malevich, and El Lissitsky taught.  Many of the artists at the school joined the art union UNOVIS, set up by Malevich.  Unovis stands for Utverditeli novogo iskusstva (Champions of the New Art).

Among the early Soviet treasures in Catherine Cooke’s collection in the University Library is a small and fragile Unovis publication dating from January 1921 and described as the union’s second publication or edition.  On its cover is Malevich’s famous Black Square, with the words “Let the overthrow of the old world of arts be traced out on the palms of your hands” written above it.  The booklet has four sections in it (NB the links below are to Russian Wikipedia entries for the authors):

Back cover

Party membership in art / M. Kunin
Unovis in ateliers / L. Khidekel’
The Architecture Faculty / I. Chashnik
On still life / L. Iudin

On its back cover, the booklet ends with an exhortation: “Comrades! Get ready for the all-Russian spring exhibition of ‘Unovis’ in Moscow”.

Lithographed on poor-quality paper, the booklet is a rather miraculous survivor.  According to the WorldCat and COPAC union catalogues, Cambridge is unique amongst major Western collections in having a copy.  The title can be accessed through the Rare Books Reading Room.  Its classmark is CCC.54.464.

A few spaces remain at the conference this week.  For those interested in attending, please see this page for joining details.

Mel Bach

 

Mariano Fortuny y Marsal: a cosmopolitan 19th-century artist

Federico_de_Madrazo_Portrait_of_Fortuny_Wiki

Mariano Fortuny in 1867 by Federico de Madrazo (Wikipedia)

This year marks the 180th anniversary of the birth of Spanish painter Mariano Fortuny 1838-1874 (not to be confused with his son Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, the fashion designer). For the first time, Madrid’s Museo del Prado held a comprehensive exhibition devoted to Fortuny, showing 169 art pieces loaned by private collectors and major museums including the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya – MNAC (Barcelona) and Museo Fortuny (Venice).

Fortuny was internationally renowned and, after Francisco de Goya (see Glendinning’s donation post), considered one of the best Spanish painters and printmakers of the 19th century.  His take on genre painting was fashionable, and collecting his art was a sign of class for the bourgeoisie, as Carlos Reyero explains in his recent book.  Fortuny had great success painting genre scenes and Moresque-inspired paintings. But at the same time he was an innovator and enjoyed the rare privilege of creating the art he wished. He was very versatile artist; he mastered all the techniques he undertook: oil painting, with precise touch often compared with Ernest Meissonier’s, and especially watercolour and etching, advancing both techniques and achieving new results. He used watercolour in a more modern way, as an autonomous art technique, and not only for preparatory works. His etchings were influenced mainly by the work of Goya, Rembrandt and José de Ribera. As he was more skilful than his contemporaries, he aroused both their envy and admiration. Continue reading

Dutch woodcarving saved by the camera

De koorbanken van Oirschot en Aarschot: gezien door de lens van Hans Sibbelee en Jan Verspaandonk is a book that caught my eye recently, with its many beautiful black and white photos. It looks in detail at the medieval carved choir stalls of two churches, one in Oirschot in the south of the Netherlands and one in Aarschot in Belgium. What makes them especially interesting is that those in Oirschot were destroyed during World War Two and we are only able to see them thanks to photographs that were fortuitously taken in 1943. Continue reading

Fragile propaganda : the March 2018 Slavonic item of the month

Last month, the CamCREES Revolution lecture series audience enjoyed a beautifully illustrated talk on Soviet porcelain.  Petr Aven spoke about the development of porcelain work in the Soviet Union, with examples from his own superlative collection.  This blog post looks at the collection’s staggering 3-volume catalogue, generously presented by Mr Aven to the University Library after his talk.  The subject of porcelain as a medium for Soviet propaganda is fascinating, and the catalogue is an exquisite and important addition to the Library on the topic.

Continue reading