Tuesday, November 8, 2016

1889-1924: Lyubov Popova, Russian

Lyubov Popova was a leading member of the Russian avant-garde in the early 20th century. She excelled as a painter, graphic artist, theatrical set designer, textile designer, teacher, and art theorist. Her first name is sometimes spelled "Liubov."

Background: Lyubov was born to in a village near Moscow to an enlightened merchant family with a strong interest in art. Her father was a very successful textile merchant and vigorous patron of the arts. Her mother came from a highly cultured family. Lyubov had two brothers and a sister.

Training: Lyubov began formal art lessons at the age of 11 and studied all through her teens. At age 18 she entered private study with well known painters.

In her early 20s she traveled around Russia and Europe to study the old masters.

When she was 23, in 1912, Lyubov studied at an art academy in Paris.

Career: Lyubov's development as a painter shows a strong intellectualism. When she first started her career, Lyubov was into Cubo-Futurism—a style that combined Cubist forms with Futurist movement. She went on to experiment with Futurism, and Constructivism, and she called her own work first “Painterly Architectonics,” then “Painterly Constructions,” and finally “Spatial Force Constructions.”

From 1914 to 1916, Lyubov was at the centre of avant-garde art in Moscow. Despite the wartime conditions she showed her work at several exhibitions including the Futurist shows

In early 1916 she joined Malevich in his Suprematist circle, which included avant-garde artists like Alexandra Ekster. She exhibited with this group in 1916; she called works "painterly Architectonics." In these works Lyubov adopted the rectilinear shapes and white grounds of the Suprematists, but her compositions were far more dynamic. Large, strongly coloured angular planes, overlap and intersect to evoke a constant state of energetic movement.

From 1917 on, she identified completely with the Bolshevik Revolution, for which she produced posters, book designs and theater designs

During the Civil War, from 1918 to 1920, she produced agitprop posters in the style of socialist realism. She also taught at the state schools.

In 1921, Lyobov participated in a constructivist show in Moscow, along with Alexandra Exter, Varvara Stepanova and others.

In response to the Soviet demand that art be socially useful, Popova and other constructivist artists renounced easel painting and turned to design. From 1921-1924 Lyubov was fully involved in Soviet art activities. She produced designs for stage sets, typography and textiles.

Wikiart has a pretty good collection of her paintings: Popova

Private life: In 1918, at the age of 29, Lyubov married the art historian Boris von Eding, and gave birth to a son. Boris died the following year of typhoid fever. Popova was also seriously ill, but recovered.

In 1924, her young son died of scarlet fever during an epidemic, and she died four days later, at the age of 35.

General Notes: Russian Constructivist women included Natalia Goncharova, Lyubov Popova, Alexandra Exter, Varvara Stepanova, Olga Rozanova.

My photos of Lyubov's work:

LACMA / Jan's photo, 2017
Architectonic Painting, 1917
LACMA / Jan's photo, 2017

Painterly Architectonic, 1917
MoMA / Jan's photo, 2015

Internet Examples:


Composition with Figures, 1915

Violin, 1915


Traveling Woman, 1915

Constructivist Fashion Design

Lyubov Popova’s dress designs, 1923-24
Textile Design, c. 1924

Textile Designs