Thursday, May 25, 2017

Died on this day in 1924: Lyubov Sergeyevna Popova

Normally I don't note artists' deaths but Popova was one of the most talented artists who died during the chaos after the Russian Revolution. Given how little encouragement she was given by the new regime and how harsh life was, it's a miracle that we have any of her work. May 25, 1924. Lyubov Sergeyevna Popova was a Russian avant-garde artist (Cubist, Suprematist and Constructivist), painter and designer. She was also a rarity in the highly masculine world of Soviet art. In 1918 Popova married the art historian Boris von Eding, and gave birth to a son. Von Eding died the following year of typhoid fever. Popova was also seriously ill but recovered. In this image: Air+Man+Space, 1912. 

First, a brief biography: Liubov Popova was born in 1889. Her father was a textile merchant and performing arts patron, and her mother belonged to a prominent, cultured family. She studied at private art studios in Moscow beginning in 1907, making lifelong friendships with future members of the Constructivist group.

Popova traveled extensively during the pre-World War I period, absorbing past and present art: Mikhail Vrubel’s religious Symbolism from the 1880s at the Church of St. Cyril, Kiev (1909); early Renaissance painting during lengthy trips throughout Italy (1910 and 1914); medieval icon painting in Novgorod, Pskov, and other ancient Russian cities (1910-12); the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (1911); and Sergei Shchukin’s collection of modern French masters (1912); She and Nadezha Udaltsova lived together in Paris (1912-13), studying at La Palette under Cubists Jean Metzinger and Henri Le Fauconnier, where additionally, she first saw Futurist art and was particularly inspired by Boccioni. In 1916 she explored Islamic architecture in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Since she was rediscovered in the ‘70s, Popova has benefited from much scholarly research and several excellent museum exhibitions and monographs. The exhibitions have included liubov popova at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1991, which traveled through 1992; Amazons of the Avant-Garde at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, which traveled from 1999-2001; Rodchenko and Popova: Defining Constructivism at Tate Modern, London, 2009, which traveled into 2010; and Women’s Power: Sisters of the Revolution, Russia 1907–1934 at the Groninger Museum, Netherlands, 2013.

In 1924, her young son died of scarlet fever during another virulent epidemic, and Liubov Popova died four days later, at age 35. She was vivacious, audacious, and passionately political, a meteor. After Lenin’s death in 1924 and Stalin’s subsequent rise to power, Popova’s colleagues either emigrated or adapted to the changed circumstances, producing the Socialist Realist art demanded by the regime. She was never faced with that choice.  Joyce Kozloff, Hyperallergic

1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

Another artist I knew nothing about. I guess it's not surprising as I usually don't care for Cubist art. I DO like the piece on the top of this short bio. I'm not sure why, but it appeals to me. And it's nice to know that there was a female artist at that time in Soviet history.