This autumn Palazzo Strozzi will present a major retrospective of the leading woman artist of the twentiethcentury avant-garde, Natalia Goncharova. Natalia Goncharova will offer visitors a unique opportunity to encounter Natalia Goncharova’s multi-faceted artistic output. A pioneering and radical figure, Goncharova’s work will be presented alongside masterpieces by the celebrated artists who served her either as inspiration or as direct interlocutors, such as Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Giacomo Balla and Umberto Boccioni.
Natalia Goncharova who was born in the province of Tula in 1881, died in Paris in 1962 was the first women artist of the Russian avant-garde to reach fame internationally. She exhibited in the most important European avant-garde exhibitions of the era, including the Blaue Reiter Munich, the Deutsche Erste Herbstsalon at the Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin and at the post-impressionist exhibition in London.
At the forefront of the avantgarde, Goncharova scandalised audiences at home in Moscow when she paraded, in the most elegant area of the city with her face and body painted. Defying public morality, she was also the first woman to exhibit paintings depicting female nudes in Russia, for which she was accused and tried in Russian courts. For over fifty years she lived and worked together with her partner and fellow artist Mikail Larionov in a free and open way, coming to marriage only in the last years of her life in order to protect their work.
A heroine of the Russian avant-garde she lived as an exile in Paris from 1919, a move that allowed her to continue working without constraints. Through her art she created an original and powerful fusion of tradition and innovation, East and West, making her work a unique example of experimentation across artistic styles and artistic genres. Goncharova united iconic elements of Russian popular and religious tradition with the demands of modern Western art, moving from the heroic art of the First World War and 1920s Paris, the ‘primitivism’ of Gauguin and the kaleidoscopic colours of Matisse through to the Picasso’s experimentation with Cubism and the dynamism of Italian Futurists, Boccioni and Balla.