Aristarkh Lentulov, avant-garde of avant-garde
by Prof. Francesco Carelli, University of Milan, Italy
Aristarkh Lentulov ( 1882 – 1943 ) lived in Moscow from 1909, and he was one of the founders of the avant-garde exhibiting association of artists, the Jack of Diamonds group of which the first took place in December 1910 and this group remained active until its dissolution in 1916. His abstraction is more from nature rather than a “non – objective“ painting. This distinction is crucial to the appreciation of the achievement of all the other Russian artists
From 1910 to 1911, Lentulov studied at the studio of Henri Le Fauconnier and the Académie de La Palette in Paris. The 1910s were for Lentulov a period of creative productivity and experimentation. He was drawn to Orphism influenced by the French artist Robert Delaunay. Whilst there, he became acquainted with contemporary French painters such as Jean Metzinger, Fernand Léger and Robert Delaunay and after absorbing fauvists’ and cubists’ principles, developed his own unique colorful style of painting. Later, after his return to Russia in 1912 he became a major influencer on what to become the Russian futurism and in particular Cubo-Futurism. Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich were both influenced by him.
Lentulov also formed another group, with Vladimir Mayakovsky and Kazimir Malevich, called Today’s Lubock (Segodnyashnii Lubok). They produced satire art that was anti-Austria and anti-Germany. The art pulled inspiration from Russian folklore and lubok art. Lentulov’s own art was heavily inspired by traditional and folk Russian architecture.
From pre-revolutionary times, he was actively involved in various theatrical projects, designing for plays in the Kamerny Theatre (The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1916) and contributing sets for a production of Scriabin’s Prometheus in the Bolshoi Theatre in 1919.
In 1928, Lentulov entered into the Society of Moscow artists, which included artists formerly associated with the Jack of Diamonds group. He became chairman of the Society and also started teaching at the Russian state art and technical school (VKhUTEMAS). Lentulov died in Moscow.
Photo: oil painting on canvas