SAO PAULO.- Banco do Brasils Cultural Center opened an exhibition of 123 works of art on loan from the Russian State Museum in St. Petersburg. The show includes works by the Russian Avant-Gardes including Marc Chagal, Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich.
The works on view in Sao Paulo come from the Russian State Museum of St. Petersburg, which holds the most important public collection of works by Malevich. In March 1936, about one year after the artists death, the Museum received a donation from his family of 86 paintings and some 80 drawings, practically everything that was left in his apartment at the time when he died. A few months later, in June 1936, after an article entitled On Formalism in Art had been published in Pravda, the museum received strict instructions to eliminate Malevichs canvases from its permanent collections. So it was that, just as the artist had foretold while he was still alive, the building became a sort of cemetery of his art. For many years thereafter, not only was the museum forbidden to show his works, it was even instructed never to admit that they were even a part of its collections. It was not until 1977, by which time the artist had become an international celebrity, that it was possible to overcome the ideological prejudice working against his name, so that his canvases could once again return to the place they so justly deserve.
The Russian avant-garde is an umbrella term used to define the large, influential wave of modern art that flourished in Russia (or more accurately, the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union) approximately 1890 to 1930 - although some place its beginning as early as 1850 and its end as late as 1960. The term covers many separate, but inextricably related, art movements that occurred at the time; namely neo-primitivism, suprematism, constructivism, and futurism. Given that many of these avant-garde artists were born or grew up in what is present day Belarus and Ukraine (including Kazimir Malevich, Aleksandra Ekster, Vladimir Tatlin, Wassily Kandinsky, David Burliuk, Alexander Archipenko), some sources also talk about Ukrainian avant-garde.
The Russian avant-garde reached its creative and popular height in the period between the Russian Revolution of 1917 and 1932, at which point the ideas of the avant-garde clashed with the newly emerged state-sponsored direction of Socialist Realism. Notable figures from this era include: Alexander Archipenko, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Liubov Popova, Alexander Rodchenko and Vladimir Tatlin, among others.