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The Russian Avant-garde

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This book is devoted to the complex relationship between Russian art and the East—be it the Russian East or the Far East—with special focus on the radical artists who shaped the development of modern art a century ago. The rituals of Siberian shamans, the ancient funerary sculptures from the steppes seen as a crystallized presence of archaic and everlasting forms of worship, Chinese popular prints, Japanese engravings, Theosophic and Anthroposophic theories, and Indian philosophy are but some of the elements that inspired the aesthetic and theoretical pursuits of the new generation of Russian artists and writers just before the October 1917 Revolution. This book examines figures such as Leon Bakst, Alexandre Benois, Pavel Filonov, Natalia Goncharova, Wassily Kandinsky, Mikhail Larionov, and Kazimir Malevich, who were deeply aware of the significance of the East for their art, and contributed to launching a rich debate that left a deep and permanent mark on their artistic praxis.