GONTCHAROVA Nathalie
(born in the Russian province of Tula in 1881). She was descended from a noble Russian family, studied in Moscow, and began to exhibit in 1900. After that she visited the principal European countries. Upon returning to Russia she became acquainted with Larionov, whose lead she was to follow in the Rayonist movement (see Rayonism). From then on she did a great deal of stage scenery and designed costumes for ballets. At the same time she organized large exhibitions in Moscow, where her daring and variegated art caused a good deal of comment. She painted Rayonist pictures in green and grey, reminiscent of underbrush, canvases covered with letters and ciphers which are prototypes of a Russian Futurism and, notably, a remarkable canvas covered with black, grey and yellow streaks which she called The Cats. In 1914 she came to Paris with Larionov and exhibited with him. Apollinaire appreciated her work and introduced her, in his preface, as a disciple of the avant-garde French school. After making the acquaintance of Diaghilev, she devoted herself almost entirely to the Ballets Russes, for which she designed many décors, costumes and stage sets ( Le Coq d'Or, Le Tsar Saltan, Stravinsky's Noces). Between the two wars she painted a series of Espagnoles (of which many reproductions have been made), as well as flowers and abstract compositions.
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