Olga Rozanova, Blue on Tin
Olga Rozanova (1886-1918) was an avant-garde Russian artist who worked in Suprematism and Cubo-Futurism. Born in a small village to the east of Moscow, she began formally studying art in 1904 at the Stroganov School of Applied Art and in the studios of several prominent Moscow painters. She became and active member of the group known as Soyuz Molodyozhi (Union of the Youth) and became involved with the Futurist poets, including her future husband. In 1916 she joined the avant-garde group that was led by Kazimir Malevich. Rozanova's work spans a number of styles and aesthetics, including Primitivism and Fauvism, but her Cubist and abstract pieces stand out among her work. She did a series showing abstracted playing cards. Some of her works prefigures Abstract Expressionism by decades. Sadly, Rozanova died of diphtheria in 1918. Blue on Tin is a beautiful piece where weight and color are explored quite masterfully. Rozanova organizes these shapes into a geometric pattern, but infuses them with the presence of a figure or landscape. This is in part because the painting recalls many natural formations—mountains, the sun, feathers, an eye—without being a representation of any of these things. She lays her paint thickly, and with great texture. The blue is thick and monolithic in some places, and shaped with a wide gradient in others. The painting is a masterpiece of early abstraction and a powerful example of the intensity and beauty that Rozanova brought to her work.