Alexandra Exter, a painter of Ukrainian origin, is acknowledged as one of the foremost artists of the avant-garde movement that emerged at the beginning of the century in the Russian empire. She played a key role in establishing connections between Cubo-Futurism – a name some authors claim that she coined – and French Cubism and Italian Futurism. Although from 1907 onwards she spent long periods in Paris, where she met Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and the Italian Futurists Ardengo Soffici and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, she always returned to her beloved Kyiv. Furthermore, despite her close relationship with the European avant-gardes, she never lost contact with her compatriots and took part in the leading avant-garde exhibitions organised in her country such as Jack of Diamonds and 5 x 5 = 25, both held in Moscow.
Although it is more than likely that this Still Life was painted in Paris, where the artist lived from 1912 to 1914, Yakov Tugenhold believes it is among the works shown at the aforementioned Jack of Diamonds exhibition in 1914. As can be clearly seen in the composition, she was influenced by the Cubist movement while living in the French capital. Nevertheless, whereas the spatial fragmentation and use of collage evidence her experimental zeal, the vivid colours are drawn from the traditions of her home country. Furthermore, the characteristic objects depicted in the Cubist still lifes, such as the bottle and glass in the centre of the composition, are intermingled with various collages of advertisements and fragments of articles cut out of newspapers, as well as a large letter ‘A’ pierced by an arrow in the upper left corner.