THE TSUKANOV ART COLLECTION

 

Exter Aleksandra

 

1882–1949

Exter Aleksandrovna Aleksandra, the ‘Amazon of the Russian avant-garde’, left Russia in 1924 having already achieved success as an artist and acclaimed theatre set designer with a reputation as a pioneer of Russian progressive art. The influence of French landscape painting can be seen in her early landscapes and still-lifes. After a period of enthusiasm for futurism and cubism, she began to create individual compositions, often using collage methods. Her abstractionism was a kind of laboratory of forms, colouristics, textures and rhythmics. The ornamentality of the artist’s paintings can be most keenly felt in the non-figurative compositions. In 1915 Exter jointed K.S. Malevich’s group in Moscow. At this time she showed an interest in arts and crafts, using cubistic forms to create everyday objects. She was productively involved in the theatrical arts and created puppets with the face of a dynamic ‘sculpture-painting’, children’s picture books, decorative screens as well as ceramics. She was one of the first to introduce the stylistics of the new art into fashion and everyday design (designs for dresses, napkins, tablecloths etc.), thereby laying the foundations for ‘art deco’. Exter’s works created for A. Tairov’s Kamerniy Theatre marked a milestone in avant-garde scenography; she antedated the principles of constructive ‘biomechanics’, subjecting the actor’s body to the integrated, supra-personal rhythm of the performance. She spent most of her life teaching at her own studios in Kiev and Paris as well as the Paris Academy of Contemporary art and the studios of M. Franchetti.


‘Looking at most of her canvasses, it is clear that her paintings are tight within the frame, that the artist has been endowed with a talent for framing in space. How was I not to seek out the opportunity to work with her …’. À. Tairov.
‘The play would have taken place and not left a mark had it not been for the …. interior of the theatre for this premiere which had an unusual appearance. The entrance hall, the stairs, foyer, and the actual entrance door to the stage itself were covered with a continuous line of cohesive, solid cubo-futuristic paintings … The shifts and explosions in Exter’s paintings, executed with a fiery and passionate persuasiveness, immediately overtook us with their pathos as soon as we reached the entrance, they then led us up the stairs, accompanied us into the foyer and took their leave in the auditorium … The rhythms, taken up by destroying the forms of the upper circles and other architectural forms, were emphasized and multiplied in the pictures of theatrical costumes. The geometrical planes, secured with wireframes, lifted into the space of the stage their pleats, curls and roundness’. À. Efros
 
The artist's work can be found in the following museums and collections:
   
Venice. Panel
The State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow)
A Woman with a Fish
Moscow Museum of Modern Art