About art emigration from Russia to the West (1920-1950s)
The problem of including the artistic heritage of Russian emigration in the concept of the development of Russian art of the 20th century in our days does not cease to be relevant. The contribution of individual representatives is still insufficiently studied, since it is often complicated by the fragmentation of collections – the exhibits not only adorn the collections of European or US museums, but are also in private collections, from time to time becoming top positions of the world’s leading auction houses.
The artistic process after the Revolution of 1917 turned out to be broken in two – part remained in Russia, the other began to develop in emigration. It is impossible to say unequivocally that there were no similar mass exodus in the world history of art. There were a lot of examples when artists worked in a different national environment, and one of them is the formation of the international school of Paris. However, for artists from other countries, participation in it can only be considered a line in his personal biography. Russian artists, who turned out to be exiles in captivity, victims of historical collisions, “took Russia with them,” continuing to create, reproducing the motifs learned in their homeland, remaining students of their “school”. Therefore, their creativity is an integral part of Russian culture, an essential part of the national artistic heritage.
The history of Europe remembers more than one mass movement of population from the East to the West and back: whether this was the cause of the Great French Bourgeois Revolution or the Napoleonic Wars, the fall of Constantinople under the onslaught of the Turks or even the Crusades. But, perhaps, not one of them was associated with such a mass exodus of representatives of the higher aristocracy, various strata of the intelligentsia, which include people of creative professions: writers, actors, musicians, artists.
In this movement for the art historian of greatest interest is a bright and multifaceted stream of representatives of the world of “fine arts”. The concept of artistic emigration in this work will be understood only as Russian painters, since the work is devoted to emigrant artists.
A. Tolstoy, who devoted his dissertation to this subject, conditionally identifies three waves in the history of Russian emigration in the 20th century:
• the first wave occurs at the end of the 1910s and throughout the 1920s;
• the second – in the first years after the end of the Second World War (this stream consisted mainly of hijacked by the invaders and the so-called “displaced persons”);
• The third “wave” (late 1960s – mid-1980s) – the era of “stagnation”, when oppositionists, non-conformists and dissidents left the country, as well as those who, already abroad, were deprived of Soviet citizenship for disagreement with the Soviet regime.
The first wave of emigration is the most ambitious and in the context of the development of Russian culture is the most dramatic. During these years, the pre-revolutionary elite, frightened by repression, left the country. We confine ourselves to a small list of well-known names, deliberately narrowing the topic of our research to key representatives: A.N. and N.A. Benoit, K.A. Somov, S.Yu. Sudeikin, B.D. Grigoriev, M. Z. Shagal, P.V. Chelishchev, N.K. Roerich, V.V. Kandinsky. What mark did they leave in the history of art?
Figures of the “World of Art” were again in vogue. A.N. Benoit, L.S. Bakst, M.V. Dobuzhinsky, N.S. Goncharov could continue to participate abroad in the productions of opera and ballet performances in the framework of the “Russian Seasons”.
The art of theatrical scenery and costumes in Paris was shone by S.Yu. Sudeikin, and in Berlin – B.D. Grigoriev.
The refined master of gallant scenes, KA Somov, who drew inspiration “beyond the borders of the past days”, gained fame throughout Europe.
M.Z. After the death of Chagall, Modigliani became the leader of the so-called “Paris School”.
P. V. Chelishchev had anticipated Dali, Breton, Magritte and all other surrealists recognized these days by almost a decade by starting to make his surrealistic paintings of deception.
Russian performances in the design of N.K. Roerich was applauded in New York, and in the eyes of the American elite, the artist had a reputation as a guru and soothsayer. Creativity V.V. Kandinsky (as, incidentally, MZ Shagal) became part of world culture.
Thus, the pre-revolutionary masters, having left their homeland, gave life to a unique phenomenon, which, speaking of V. Nabokov, A. Bitov, called the “planted branch of Russian culture”, which undoubtedly tragically bleed the very tree of this culture.
The art of Soviet Russia lost not only powerful individual talents: the birth of culturally-conditioned all-European stages, stages of directions, stopped, the development of a living artistic organism naturally stopped. If we talk about only the “World of Art”, it is almost completely overseas. In the totalitarian, socially oriented Soviet Russia, exquisitely refined beauty was no longer a place. In Dostoevsky she saved the world, but now she left it, driven abroad by the instinct of self-preservation.