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Author: Louise Hardiman

This article examines several important designs by Elena Dmitrievna Polenova (1850-1898) for art embroideries and textile panels. These are the least studied of Polenova’s works, but offer new insights into the artist’s role as a leader of the neo-national movement in late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Russian art. Linking extant designs with photographs of exhibition displays and unpublished archival sources, including contemporary accounts by the British art journalist Netta Peacock (1864-1938), this project seeks to initiate the important process of identifying and analysing Polenova’s designs within the context of the movement.

In: Experiment
Author: John E. Bowlt

The focus of this article is on Léon Bakst’s activities as textile and dress designer during the 1910s and early 1920s, especially in the United States. Particular note is made of his interest in questions of nationality—whether Persian, Indian, Siamese, Jewish or American Indian—as reflected in fabrics and clothing. Bakst’s interaction with American patrons, such as the Garretts, is discussed as are his pedagogical and theoretical concerns.

In: Experiment

Nadezhda Lamanova was the only well-established Russian pre-revolutionary fashion designer who declared her loyalty to the new regime following the 1917 Bolshevik insurrection. The juxtaposition of the extraordinary glamour of her pre-1917 designs with her dedicated post-revolutionary service to the Bolsheviks has contributed to Lamanova’s mythical status in Russia. This paper contextualizes Lamanova’s designs within the pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary modernist arts and applied arts movements, and shows that Lamanova’s work and her personal life were embedded in the social, cultural, and artistic avant-garde of her times. In turn, the paper forges a link between Lamanova’s pre-and-post-1917 careers, periods that, previously, had been strictly delineated.

In: Experiment

This article explores the needlework practices of a provincial gentrywoman in mid-nineteenth century Russia. Natal’ia Chikhacheva (1799-1866) managed her family’s modest estates in Vladimir province, in the heart of the textile region surrounding the village of Ivanovo. She oversaw serf labor in textiles, especially the growing and processing of flax and weaving, but she also did spinning, knitting, sewing, and lacemaking herself. The products of her needles were used not only by her own family, but also by their serfs, while some were sold for profit or given as gifts to friends. Chikhacheva provides a rare glimpse of everyday Russian needlework of the period, its uses, and cultural associations.

In: Experiment
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The life and work of Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), especially her clothing and textile designs as reflections of the theory of Simultanism, are the focus of this article. Also discussed are her works for the Ballets Russes and other theater companies, her commercial undertakings, the impact of her color theory on Russian artists such as Georgii Yakulov, and her connections with the Paris avant-gardists such as André Lhote and Tristan Tzara.

In: Experiment

This article is concerned with the life and work of Aleksandra Kol’tsova-Bychkova in Imperial Russia, France, and the Soviet Union, especially her experiments with embroidery in the 1920s and 1930s. Specific attention is given to her association with the Stroganov Institute, her interest in Art Nouveau, and her subsequent interest in abstract composition, as well as her working relationship with her husband, the sculptor, Sergei Kol’tsov, known for his Socialist Realist monuments.

In: Experiment
Author: Alison Hilton

The diverse components and decoration of peasant costumes in the north and south of Russia are the focus of this examination of the materials, stitches, and colors of textile arts. The identification of the wearer’s stage of life, village, kinship, and local traditions is analyzed through the sartorial elements and embroidered designs of garments and headdresses. Other textile work, especially embroidery on towels and bed linens, with repeated patterns and stylized motifs, shows formal similarities with designs on wooden distaffs, suggesting shared historical origins of certain forms. The essay emphasizes both the conservative nature of peasant clothing and the adaptability of textile arts to new materials, techniques, and functions.

In: Experiment