This is the UK’s first ever retrospective of the Russian avant-garde artist Natalia Goncharova, a pioneering and radical figure, celebrated during her lifetime as a leading modernist artist.
Throughout her varied career Goncarova challenged the limits of artistic, social and gender conventions, from parading through the streets of Moscow displaying futurist body art and scandalising newspapers of the day, to creating internationally acclaimed designs for fashion and the theatre.
The exhibition gathers together over 160 international loans which rarely travel, and at its heart is a room evoking Goncharova’s remarkable 1913 retrospective that was held at the Mikhailova Art Salon in Moscow.
Highlights include early paintings such as Peasants Gathering Apples (1911); the monumental seven-part work The Harvest (1911); and her scandalous paintings of nudes, the first public display of which led to her trial for obscenity. Also featured are religious paintings and her work in fashion design including collaborations with Nadezhda Lamanova, couturier of the Imperial court. Her forays into interior design are represented by the decorative screen Spring (1928), commissioned by the Arts Club of Chicago and never lent until now, and Bathers (1922), a monumental triptych which will be displayed in the UK for the first time.
Between 1914 and the 1950s, Goncharova was best known for her collaborations with the Ballets Russes. The exhibition presents her most groundbreaking work for the theatre, including costume designs for Le Coq d’or (The Golden Cockerel) and Les Noces (The Wedding), both performed on London stages in the 1920s and 30s, as well as examples of actual costumes used in historic ballet productions.