Marianne Werefkin: a pioneering modernist

Self-portrait on the cover of S950.b.201.5000

I was interested to hear about the Making Modernism exhibition which opened at the Royal Academy in November and continues until 12 February. It is described as “the first major UK exhibition devoted to pioneering women working in Germany in the early 1900s” and highlights four women in particular. Three of these, Kӓthe Kollwitz, Paula Modersohn-Becker and Gabriele Münter, were familiar names to me and indeed have been mentioned previously in our blog post on German Expressionism in Leicester. But I had not heard of Marianne Werefkin (1860-1938) and she seemed worthy of further exploration.

She was born into Russian nobility, and as a young woman her artistic talents were recognised and encouraged, with lessons from the renowned artist Ilya Repin. In the 1890s she moved to Munich with her partner Alexej von Jawlensky who was also an artist. At this time she was probably the more skilled painter of the pair but chose to allow her art to take a back seat for a time in order to support his development. She embraced a more expressionist style of painting in the early 1900s and was one of the founders of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München which was a forerunner of the important Der Blaue Reiter movement. Continue reading

The Bowlt-Misler Collection : Russian and Soviet art history

Professor Nicoletta Misler and Professor John Bowlt in the University Librarian’s offices.

Professor John Bowlt, a highly distinguished art historian of late Imperial and early Soviet visual culture, and the 2015-16 Cambridge Slade Professor of Fine Art, has announced that he will donate his library to the University Library as the Bowlt-Misler Collection.  This is an extremely exciting development.  Professor Bowlt has built his library into an astounding resource over the course of his career, and it now numbers many thousands of books, periodicals and catalogues.

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“Not bad” : 100-year-old comments on an exhibition in Petrograd : the April 2018 Slavonic item of the month

Front cover of the catalogue (CCB.54.143)

100 years ago, the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts held an exhibition of works by members of the famous Peredvizhniki (or Wanderers, Oxford Art Online‘s preferred translation).  In the Catherine Cooke collection, the UL has a programme from the exhibition.  What makes our copy such a delight is that it contains pencilled comments by a visitor to the exhibition.

The catalogue, a slight and entirely unillustrated 14-page publication, lists the members of the Peredvizhniki followed by the names of their paintings exhibited, and then lists eksponenty – exhibitors – and their paintings.  The relationship between the first group and the second is not entirely clear to me.  In G.B. Romanov’s 735-page Peredvizhniki encyclopedia (S950.b.200.4794), the entry for the exhibition – which opened in March 1918 – provides a list of artists and exhibits that contains some but not all of the artists and paintings from both lists, undifferentiated, in the catalogue.

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