CHAGALL, LISSITZKY, MALEVITCH… The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk (1918-1922)

Musée national d’Art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris
28 March – 16 July 2018

Blows to the Russian Avant-Garde are not new. The recent exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, having little to do with Vitebsk, is a striking example. Only the title gives it away.

Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich, and in tiny letters at the bottom of the poster and on the catalogue, “Vitebsk” can hardly be seen.

Even if the organisers of the exhibition did not want to portray the scope of the creativity of the school of Vitebsk, the considerable importance of the teaching disseminated by the above-named teachers must be remembered. They were a new generation of artists who unfortunately were eliminated by a new repressive regime.

Although it is a pleasure to see a few great paintings by Chagall, a few rather sad Lissitzky’s, and a profusion of Malevich’s Architektons, the work of the students has been reduced to but a small handful. Was it a decree from Russian museums that determined the choice of work, cowardice on behalf of the organisers, or just incompetence?

The works exist, however, for several private galleries such as Annely Juda in London, Gmurzynska in Cologne (at the time), Jean Chauvelin in Paris have exhibited many works by the students of Malevich over the 1990s. So why are there all these intentional omissions?

The exhibition of Vitebsk is yet to be done.

InCoRM Member, Paris

26 June 2018

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