Mikhail Fedorovich Larionov (1881-1964) : a study of the chronology and sources of his art
Mikhail Larionov was one of the outstanding artistic personalities of his age, yet little scholarly work has been devoted to him. This thesis presents an accurate biography of the artist and his creative endeavours, establishing the chronology of his stylistic development, which has hitherto been uncertain. It also attempts to interpret Larionov's work from the point of view of his aesthetic ideology, revealed by an examination of his personal library and art writings. The thesis covers Larionov's life and work in Moscow before the first world war, when he became leader of the Russian avant-garde. He made important contributions in the field of painting and graphic art, developing two new styles: neo-primitivism and rayism. Having established a working chronology, Larionov's art is examined in separate chapters. The impact of folk art upon neo-primitivism is discussed at length, as well as the importance of Larionov's research into archaeology and shamanism. The development.of rayism is examined by reference to Italian futurism and French cubism, and his knowledge of contemporary scientific and pseudo-scientific ideas. Larionov's years in Europe working for Diaghilev's "Ballets Russes" are discussed at length, as is his fascinating contribution to the School of Paris during the 1920's. Finally the last decades of his life are considered, when despite growing recognition, Larionov died in poverty in Paris. The artist's major contribution is seen to lie in his development of neo-primitivism and rayism, and also in his role as an organiser amongst the Russian avant-garde, the "Ballets Russes" and the School of Paris. Larionov is revealed as an artist of importance in both painting and theatre design, who played a significant role in the history of 20th Century art.