RARP – The Russian Avant-Garde Research Project – announced the outcomes of their grant-funded project and present you the summary of the findings. Over the last year Art Analysis & Research (AA&R) worked closely with the Museum Ludwig to examine the collection of 14 paintings by the 20th century Russian artists Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov. Find out more about the project here.

Examination of artworks at Museum Ludwig by Art Analysis & Research. From left to right, Petra Mandt (Conservator of Paintings, Museum Ludwig), Dr Jilleen Nadolny (Principal Investigator, Art Analysis & Research and Project Manager), Verena Franken (Independent researcher and Cologne project coordinator). Absent, Dr Nicholas Eastaugh (Chief Scientist, AA&R). © Museum Ludwig, 2017. All rights reserved.

The research included use of broad spectrum of advanced technologies (carbon 14 dating, 3D mapping) alongside proven analytical methods (X-rays, Infrared, pigment and binding media analysis) and contextual technical art history. This interdisciplinary study has provided new understanding on the working practices of these artists, allowing for a richer and more nuanced understanding of their work. We are pleased to make this information available – you may find the summary of the findings below, as well as download detailed reports from Art Analysis & Research (AA&R) and Musem Ludwig.

Detail, N. Goncharova, The Orange Seller, 1916, collection Museum Ludwig: Inv. Nr. ML 1484. © Art Analysis & Research Inc. and the Museum Ludwig, 2017. All rights reserved.

Detail, Infrared image of the underdrawing. This relates directly to Goncharova’s drawing in the Tretyakov Gallery, inv. no. P-4572, a study for the painting. © Art Analysis & Research Inc. and the Museum Ludwig, 2017

Through analysis of the works by Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov a clearer, more detailed picture of their individual work and interrelationships has been obtained, revealing:

  • Their experimentation with paints, including the use of tempera in addition to oils, shows them to have been part of a movement among Russian Avant Garde artists, who were keen to explore their artistic traditions such as in the use of the icon-painting techniques.
  • The ways in which they developed their paintings, such as the previously unidentified extensive use of preparatory drawing on the canvas.
  • Discovery of compositions abandoned by the artists, painted over as reused supports for new paintings.
  • Clarification of a faded signature on Larionov’s Venus
  • Key revisions to the dating of several of the works.
  • Similarities and differences in the working processes of these two artists.
  • Changes of materials and techniques, especially reflected in their move from Russia to France c. 1921.
  • Significant issues for conservation and preservation of these culturally important works of art.

Detail of the signature, N. Goncharova, The Orange Seller, 1916, collection Museum Ludwig: Inv. Nr. ML 1484. © Verena Franken, 2017. Art Analysis & Research Inc. and Museum Ludwig. All rights reserved.

Goncharova and Larionov present a particularly fascinating study of artists’ practices. As an artist couple, their shared approaches and influences on each other give insight to a close working relationship. As members of leading artists’ groups across Russia and Europe such as the ‘Jack of Diamonds’, ‘Moscow Futurists’ and ‘Blue Rider’, Goncharova and Larionov’s work was also highly influential on early 20th century modernism; thus, information collected on their materials and techniques also provides wide ranging implications for the study of their early 20th century contemporaries.

Please check the link for the detailed REPORTS ON FINDINGS.

Microscope photograph of a paint cross-section showing particles of black underdrawing under a thick layer of yellow paint, over a white ground. Photographed under visible light. © Art Analysis & Research Inc. 2017. All rights reserved.

Microscope photograph of a paint cross-section showing particles of black underdrawing under a thick layer of yellow paint, over a white ground. Photographed under UV light. © Art Analysis & Research Inc. 2017. All rights reserved.

RARP was established to encourage and advance the wider understanding of the Russian avant-garde through the scholarly application of art historical and technological research.