Artists at Play

Natalia Erenburg, Iakov Tugendkhold, and the Exhibition of Russian Folk Art at the “Salon d’Automne” of 1913

in Experiment
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  • 1 Executive Director, Ballets Russes Arts Initiative, and Associate, Davis Center at Harvard University and Center for the Study of Europe at Boston University

Abstract

The exhibition of Russian folk art at the Paris “Salon d’Automne” of 1913 has been generally overlooked in scholarship on folk art, overshadowed by the “All-Russian Kustar Exhibitions” and the Moscow avant-garde gallery shows of the same year. This article examines the contributions of its curator, Natalia Erenburg, and the project’s instigator, Iakov Tugendkhold, who wrote the catalogue essay and headed the committee—both of whom were artists who became critics, historians, and collectors. The article elucidates the show’s rationale and selection of exhibits, the critical response to it and its legacy. It also discusses the artistic circles of Russian Paris in which the project originated, particularly the Académie russe. Finally, it examines the project in the context of earlier efforts to present Russian folk art in Paris, and shows how it—and Russian folk art as a source and object of collecting and display—brought together artists, collectors, and scholars from the ranks of the Mir iskusstva [World of Art] group, as well as the younger avant-gardists, and allowed them to engage Parisian and European audiences with their own ideas and artworks.

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