[KEY RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE MANIFESTO] Pochemu my raskrashivaemsia [i.e. Why Do We Paint Ourselves?] // Argus. Ezhemesiachnyi illustrirovannyi khudozhestvennyi i literaturnyi zhurnal [i.e. Argus. The Illustrated Art and Literary Magazine]
St. Petersburg, 1913-1917. The Christmas issue, #12 for 1913. 114-118 pp. 25x17 cm. Original illustrated wrappers. Very good. Some wear, new spine.
Extremely rare. The crucial document of the Russian avant-garde. The manifesto, co-written by Ilia Zdanevich who moved to Saint Petersburg in 1911 and Mikhail Larionov who invented rayonism in 1922, was published towards the end of this issue of Argus, a general literary magazine.
The article is illustrated with 4 photographs of the authors as well as Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Le Dantu with the abstract compositions painted over their faces. There are 4 more abstract drawings intended for the willing to put on their faces and bodies, ending with the lengthy decorative drawing for the female bust.
‘‘The innovated life calls for the innovated preaching!’’ the authors proclaim in the manifesto which merely explains extravagant behaviour by Goncharova and Larionov, who were walking with the painted faces in 1912 and 1913 on the central streets in Moscow. In the spring of 1914 Ilia Zdanevich gave a lecture called ‘The Painting of the Face’ in the cabaret ‘Stray Dog’ in Saint Petersburg.
‘‘It’s time for the art to invade life. The painting of the face is just the beginning of the invasion’’ says the manifesto. One could argue that in that call the echoes of the leftist ideas of the 1920s on art influencing everyday life appear.
The article is also important because it features a photo of Mikhail Le Dantu (1891-1917), who was a very important artist of the 1910s, responsible for the discovery of Niko Pirosmani, and tragically died in 1917. Zdanevich always credited Le Dantu as a key innovator in Russian avant-garde. Only a couple of photos of Le Dantu are known.
The article ends with rather lengthy ‘editorial note’ that criticizes the authors: ‘‘The futurists are promising a lot. They are promising ‘to rebuild the life and take to the upper reaches of the reality the multiplied soul of the human’. The apostles of the painted mugs and the poetry and art that lacks any color, they are ready to update the culture of the whole world. The task is colossal, the intentions seem to look good, but maybe with these exact intentions the road to hell is paved?!’’
Another interesting article in the periodical is by P. Potiomkin called ‘The Russian Ballet Abroad’ with very curious examples of pre-revolutionary photo-montages alongside the geometrical designs.
Worldcat doesn’t show any physical copies of this issue.