Liubov Sergeievna Popova
Year, Birthplace 1889, Russia
Year, Place of death 1924, Russia
Liubov Popova was one of the most important figures of the Russian avant-garde. She began to take painting lessons in Moscow with Stanislav Zhukovsky in 1907, and with Konstantin Yuon and Ivan Dudin in 1908. The following year she discovered the work of Mikhail Vrubel in Kiev. In 1910 Popova went to Italy, where she took an interest in the works of Giotto and Pintoriccio. In 1911 she visited several Russian cities and grew fond of iconic art (in Pskov and Novgorod). In 1912 she settled in a studio in Moscow with her friend Nadezhda Udaltsova, also a painter. The pair worked next to Vladimir Tatlin, the father of Russian constructivism. That same year Popova moved to Paris with her friend and studied at the Académie de la Palette under the guidance of Henri Le Fauconnier, Jean Metzinger and André Dunoyer de Segonzac, thereby taking her first steps in cubism. Upon her return to Moscow in 1913 she became interested in futurism, which she tried to reconcile with analytic cubism: this style would be called ‘cubo-futurism’. In 1914 and 1916 she took part in the Moscow exhibitions of the Jack of Diamonds association, which brought together fauvists, cubists and the Russian avant-gardes. She returned to France and Italy in 1914. From 1916 onwards, she entitled her creations Pictorial architectural compositions. She developed a personal art based on non-objectivity, dynamic combinations, geometric forms, the absence of perspective, and unpolished matter. At this time she was very close to Kazimir Malevich, the inventor of suprematism. Liubov Popova began to teach, but the death of her husband and a long-term illness interrupted this activity. Back in Moscow in 1920, she worked at INKhUK (Institute of Artistic Culture), a centre dedicated to constructivist theories. From then on, she called her works Pictorial Constructions in 1920 and Spatial Force Constructions in 1921. Besides those staged by the Jack of Diamonds, Popova took part in the most important avant-garde exhibitions in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, including Tramway V (the first futurist painting exhibition, Saint Petersburg, 1915), 0.10 (the last futurist painting exhibition, Saint Petersburg, 1915), The Shop (fifth national exhibition ranging from impressionism to non-objective art, Moscow, 1916), Tenth National Exhibition: Non-objective Creation and Suprematism (Moscow, 1919), 5 x 5 = 25 (with Alexandre Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Viktor Vesnin and Alexandra Exter, Moscow, 1921). In the spirit of the October Revolution, she quit painting around 1921 to extend her research to the decorative arts (posters, books, ceramics, photomontages, design, clothes, as well as sets and costumes for the Vsevolod Emilevich Meyerhold Theatre, with which she found success). She created fabrics for Moscow’s first state textile factory, where she became responsible for the production workshop in 1924, one year before her untimely death at the age of thirty-five. AC