The Cyclist - oil on canvas - Post-Impressionism -1913
Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova (1881 - 1962) was a Russian avant-garde artist, painter, costume designer, writer, illustrator, and set designer.
In 1901 she began her studies at the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. By 1903, she exhibited in major Russian salons. She was awarded a silver medal for sculpture in 1903-04. It was at the Moscow Institute that Goncharova met Mikhail Larionov.
Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, led the charge in Russian Futurist painting, or Cubo-Futurism, in the early twentieth century. While her early work was heavily influenced by the French Post-Impressionists, Goncharova went on to help develop Primitivism, Rayonnism and various Futurist theatrical experiments.
The years 1906 through 1914, witnessed in Russia an extraordinarily rapid series of artistic shifts and turns, and Goncharova was at the forefront of many of the major ideas and innovations.
She withdrew from the Moscow Institute in 1909, and in 1910, after a number of students were expelled from portrait class for imitating the contemporary style of European Modernism. Goncharova, Larionov and others formed Moscow's first radical independent exhibiting group, the Jack of Diamonds'.
The Jack of Diamonds' first exhibition included Primitivist and Cubist paintings by Goncharova, and in the later Donkey's Tail exhibition organized by Larionov, more than fifty of her paintings were on display. The Jack of Diamonds shows in 1912 brought Goncharova and Larionov in contact with Wassily Kandinsky and Kasimir Malevich.
Goncharova drew inspirations for primitivism from Russian icons and folk art, otherwise known as luboks. The Donkey's Tail was conceived as an intentional break from the European art influence and the establishment of an independent Russian school of modern art.
Initially preoccupied with icon painting and the primitivism of ethnic Russian folk-art, Goncharova became famous in Russia for her Futurist work such as The Cyclist and her later Rayonist works.
Goncharova was a member of the Der Blaue Reiter avant-garde group from its founding in 1911.
En 1915, she began to design ballet costumes and sets in Geneva. She also started work on a series of designs for a ballet commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev. Between 1922 and 1926 she created fashion designs for a Paris fashion shop.
In 1938 Goncharova became a French citizen. On June 2, 1955, four years after Larionov suffered a stroke, the two artists got married in Paris to safeguard their rights of inheritance. Goncharova died, on October 17, 1962 in Paris after a debilitating struggle with rheumatoid arthritis.
In 2008 Goncharova’s painting Les Fleurs (c. 1912) sold for $10.8 million, and in 2010 Espagnole (c. 1916) sold at auction for $10.2 million, setting new records among women artists.