The avant-garde art of the 20th century has many admirers as well as strong opponents. When we want to have a break from the fine paintings of the Renaissance or historical battle scenes, we are looking for simple forms full of symbolism and remember names of Kandinsky and Malevich. Without any doubt these artists are some of the greatest painters, but there are also names that are perhaps less known, which I would like to uncover together with you.
While being largely popular around the world in the 20th century, in Soviet Russia the tradition of abstract art was forcefully interrupted – the communist state did not need any other genres except for the “socialist realism”. Despite that, Russian abstract painters not only existed but thrived and made a large contribution to the field. Sergei Sharshun, Andrei Lanskoy, Sergei Polyakov, Nicolas de Stael, having all emigrated from Russia in the 1910s-1920s, worked in France and created magnificent examples of abstract paintings.
These four artists were not united into one group as each of them strove to develop a unique individual concept. Nevertheless, in the history of art of the 20th century their names always stand side by side. At the famous exhibition “Russian Artists of the Parisian School” in Saint-Denis (1960) and Paris (1961) the works of each of them were presented. The significance of achievements in the field of non-figurative art of these outstanding artists has long been appreciated – their works can be found in the largest public and private collections, dozens of monographs in many languages of the world are devoted to them.
Unfortunately, in Russia, the work of these emigrant artists is little known not only to the general public, but even to specialists.