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Fundación Botín Pays Homage to Russia's Valiant Efforts to Conquer Space
Poster for the cosmic voyage. National Library of Russia.

SANTANDER.- Eighty-three years later, after man landing on the moon and robots traversing Mars, after the construction of international space stations, after probes to Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and beyond, another exhibition —The Cosmos of the Russian Avant-Garde: Art and Space Exploration, 1900-1930— pays homage to these valiant efforts to conquer space. A number of exhibitions and publications have been devoted to certain aspects of this theme, especially within the last decade, but this would seem to be the first attempt to concentrate on the modern Russian contribution. In any case, “The Cosmos of the Russian Avant-Garde: Art and Space Exploration, 1900-1930” is concerned not simply with artists’ renderings of outer space or with scientists’ visionary projects , but expressly with the intersection of visual art and cosmonautics.

The Cosmos of the Russian Avant-Garde: Art and Space Exploration, 1900-1930 examines the relationship between Russian art and science, in particular, before and after the Revolution of October, 1917. More specifically, the exhibition focuses on the intricate and fertile links between artistic visions of the cosmos and the practical investigations of space travel. By exploring this particular theme, i.e. the Russian perception, both metaphysical and actual, of space, the exhibition highlights the interaction of the esthetic and philosophical consciousness of artists with astrophysical and cosmonautical research in early 20th century Russia which, in many ways, was epitomized by the “First Universal Exhibition of Designs and Models of Interplanetary Apparatuses and Mechanisms” in Moscow in 1927.

Many members of the Russian avant-garde -- the constellation of radical artists in the 1910s and 1920s which included such luminaries as Pavel Filonov, Petr Foteev, Vasilii Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Solomon Nikritin, Aleksandr Rodchenko and Vladimir Tattlin -- were inspired by the quest for other worlds, investigating abstract vocabularies which reflected not only the flight of the first airplanes and the first major experiments on space flight, but also the visionary quest of poets and philosophers for an occult, astral plane.

The exhibition presents, not only masterpieces of Russian Modernist painting, but also scientific plans and models such as Tsiolokovsky’s diagrams for multi-stage rockets, components of Tatlin’s airplane, Letatlin and Ari Shternfeld’s and Fridrikh Tsander’s visionary machines as well as material paraphernalia from the sputnik era. Sometimes, artists pursued parallel professions, the architect Georgii Krutikov designing flying cities and the painter Nikritin picturing zeppelins and UFOs, for example.

Also, posters advertising air tournaments, airship and aircraft transportation and, later, interplanetary flight constituted a rich and powerful genre in the Soviet arts throughout the era of the Space Race and they occupy a special place in “The Cosmos of the Russian Avant-Garde”.

The exhibition includes the contribution of the State Museum of Contemporary Art-Costakis Collection from Thessaloniki, Greece, and of Aliki Costakis private collection from Athens, Greece.

Santander | Fundación Botín | "The Cosmos of the Russian Avant-Garde" |

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