1 December 2010
Landscape inscribed in Cyrillic "23 August 1927/Odessa" on the reverse
Pencil and watercolour on paper, 24 by 32.5 cm
Provenance: The George Costakis Collection, until 1977.
Collection of Ya. E. Rubinshtein, Moscow, inscription on the reverse.
Related Literature: For a similar work, see Anna Kafetsi (ed.), Russian Avant-Garde 1910-1930. The G. Costakis Collection, Athens, 1995, ill. 243.
The Ender sisters, Maria (1897, St Petersburg — 1942, Leningrad) and Ksenia (1894, Slutsk — 1955, Leningrad) studied from 1918 to 1922 at the Petrograd State Free Art Workshops of Mikhail Matiushin in the Spatial Realism department, and worked in the department of organic culture at GINKhUK (the State Institute of Artistic Culture) also under the direction of Matiushin, Maria from 1923 to 1926 and Ksenia 1923 to 1924. Mikhail Matiushin was an artist, musician, composer, art re- searcher, one of the leading lights of the Russian avant-garde and inventor of the theory of “broadened observation”. In the depart- ment of organic culture at GINKhUK a group of artists, Matiushin’s students, formed an association which they called ZOR-VED (an abbreviation of the words ‘seeing’ and ‘knowing’). Matiushin spoke of a new truth existing in art, a non-figurative figuration. “Figures do not leave the field of vision, they just change into a new form.”
For the artists of the avant-garde, the concept of realism did not mean copying nature. It was no accident that the word “realism” acquired the attribute “spatial”. It became synonymous with a new idea of the universe, of connections with nature. The group’s investigations were mainly concentrated on the problem of the perception of colour in space, of the influence of colour on form and on the connections between colour and sound. The Ender sisters were active participants.
Maria Ender conducted an independent project researching colour, ran the department researching the use of peripheral perception of colour and form and gave 24 lectures at the department’s meetings. She prepared for publication the articles The Laws of Reproduction of Colour Form, Chevreul’s Law of Simultaneous Contrast and Its Relationship to the Principle of Broadened Observation, Colour and Colour Combining, Space and Form and On Supplementary Form. She taught colour studies at the State Art and Industry Technical College (1930), and at the Leningrad Institute of Proletarian Visual Arts (1930–1932). Maria Ender actively collaborated with Matiushin in preparing a colour handbook for publication in 1932. She took part in designing the Soviet pavilion at the World Exposition in Paris in 1937 and the World’s Fair in New York in 1939.
Ksenia also wrote reports at the Institute on various subjects. From 1925 to 1927 she worked as a scientific collaborator at the Decorative Institute. Due to poor health she gave up painting early on and in the 1930s worked as a designer in an engineer’s office. Both sisters participated in the Exhibition of Pictures by Petrograd Artists of All Movements in Petrograd in 1923, and in the 14th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition in 1924. Landscapes occupy a major place in the oeuvre of Ksenia Ender and it is in these that she uses her experience in “broadened observation”: the purification of light and the revelation of its luminescence, the colour-form connection with the surroundings through “interlinking” colour. The artist highlights simple colour forms which create a slightly slowed-down, peaceful compositional rhythm. Maria Ender was one of the leading theoreticians of the new spatial realism. Her compositions were more dynamic, complex and delicate in their colour characteristics. By finding the graphic “formulae” of objects in nature, stripping all detail, all unnecessary features from their depictions, both artists preserved a connection with the natural origin.
Liudmila Vostretsova, The State Russian Museum, St Petersburg
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