Following the Russian Revolution, artists were torn between radical non-objectivity on the one hand and a contempt for the bourgeois tradition of ‘easel painting’ on the other. But between these extremes, several artists pursued a quieter middle path. Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin was a case in point. Although his work avoided the boisterous and attention-seeking rhetoric of the Avant-Garde, making allowance for the every day lives of ordinary Russians, his work also reflects the idealistic agendas of his contemporaries. Andrew Spira explores the work of this subtle and sensitive artist, only recently coming to the attention of British audiences.
Andrew Spira is an independent teacher, writer and curator. He graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art before working at the Temple Gallery, London (specialists in Russian icons), and as a curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum. He was a course director at Christie’s Education for fifteen years and has led numerous tours to Russia, Romania, Armenia and elsewhere. Tonight he explores the work of the painter Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin for us, as he did earlier this year in a talk he gave for the Royal Academy Exhibition Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932.