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Edvard Munch: Archetypes

From 06 October 2015 to 17 January 2016

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Edvard Munch
Puberty, 1914-1916
Oslo, Munch-museet
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Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Mikhail Larionov
Street with Lanterns
Oil on burlap
35 x 50 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Numero de inventario
INV. Nr. 636 (1977.35)

More information about this work

New trends influenced by the European avant-garde began to emerge during the middle years of the first decade of the twentieth century in parallel with the Primitivist movements of the Russian avant-garde artists. While numerous artists developed an expressive style in the wake of Cubism and Futurism — the so-called Cubo-Futurism — in autumn 1912 Larionov delved deeper into what he would later call Rayonism, a language derived from the lines of force of Italian Futurism. Larionov’s Rayonism was based on the scientific theories of light and on creating a picture space in which the artist reflected on the action and refraction of rays of light. In his own words, “painting manifests itself as a fleeting impression.” Larionov added to Mayakovsky’s definition of Rayonism as a Cubist interpretation of Impression that “it imparts a sensation of the extratemporal, of the spatial. In it arises what could be called the fourth dimension, because the length, breadth, and density of the layer of paint are the only signs of the outside world.”

As may be seen in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Street with Lanterns, Larionov’s Rayonism is based on the expansion of light that emanates from different sources, in this case street lamps. It is not known for certain if Larionov was familiar with any similar Futurist works, such as Giacomo Balla’s Street Light , but there are evident similarities between the two. The rays and lines of colour, which completely fill the picture surface, have also been associated with Sonia Delaunay’s Prismes electriques, which were first shown at the Salon des Indépendants of 1914. However, as John Bowlt explains, the light of the street lamps had also been a common motif in the work of other Russian artists such as Alexander Bogomazov, Alexandra Ekster and Natalia Goncharova, because, as Vladimir Mayakovski had stated, “We see the electric street lamp more often than the old Romantic Moon.”

Paloma Alarcó

© 2009 Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Paseo del Prado 8, 28014 Madrid, España

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