Circling the Square: Avant-garde Porcelain from Revolutionary Russia Circling the Square: Avant-garde Porcelain from Revolutionary Russia is an exhibition celebrating an extraordinary period in the history of 20th century art and design. It will present, for the first
News-Antique.com - Nov 30,-0001 - This is a rare opportunity to consider the achievements of a group of radical avant-garde artists – Futurists, Cubists and especially the abstract Suprematist painters in the circle of Kazimir Malevich – within the wider context of Russian revolutionary porcelain. The exhibition is jointly organised by The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, and the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and will take place at the Hermitage Rooms, Somerset House, London WC2, from 18 November 2004 to 31 July 2005. The exhibition and catalogue have been made possible by the generous support of the Russian financial corporation URALSIB.
Circling the Square will comprise some 300 pieces of porcelain and a total of 70 design drawings, all dating from 1918 to the mid-1930s. Objects and designs come from the Porcelain Museum, a new department of The State Hermitage Museum, formed from the prestigious historic collection of the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory Museum. In addition, there will be three important objects which have been generously lent from private collections: a saucer and a cup and saucer with abstract compositions after designs by Wassily Kandinsky; which will be shown alongside the artist’s preparatory design. Though fragile and generally perceived as a luxury item, porcelain outlasted many forms of revolutionary design and so tells us a great deal about the art, culture and economy of the period.
The porcelain will be shown in four rooms, each focusing on a distinct facet or period of the factory’s output. The first gallery will be devoted to Suprematism, and the second to what may be termed ‘artist’s porcelain’, a selection of plates painted or designed by leading avant-garde artists in a variety of different styles. In the third gallery the visitor will find ‘agit-porcelain’ or propaganda porcelain, porcelain that has a direct and discernable political message. The last gallery examines the Suprematist legacy of the 1930s, a final flourishing of avant-garde experimentation at a time when Socialist Realism was introduced as the official Soviet style.
A fascinating group of largely unpublished and some newly discovered preparatory designs will be presented alongside the ceramics. For conservation reasons the drawings will be presented in two groups of 35 and changed mid-way through the exhibition. All the designs will be published in the accompanying exhibition catalogue.
The first gallery on Suprematism has the greatest number of pieces and so forms the core of the exhibition. It will showcase an exceptional array of boldly geometric designs on plates, cups, saucers and services dating from what was the most experimental and artistically innovative of all the phases of the factory’s production: the Suprematist period around 1923. It was during this short but intensely productive period that the factory recruited Nikolai Suetin and Ilya Chashnik, students and followers of Kazimir Malevich who worked on a new, non-naturalistic style of porcelain decoration. The Suprematists’ concepts about art centred on abstract geometric forms – the square, the circle and the cross - so applying these ideals to porcelain decoration was a perfect fit.