Welcome to the brand new Arthive! Discover a full list of new features here.


Ukraine • 1882−1949
Alexandra Exter't immigrate to Europe. She just never returned to the Soviet Union after the Venice Biennale. Someone is sure that the artist had long dreamed to go, others believe that the reason for the departure was the gap with Love. Indeed, to create scenery that stole the show and directing talent of Alexander Tairov, and acting Alice Koonen, is not everyone's strength. Beautiful, exquisite, "through the French", by definition Lifshitz, Asya Exter started with good luck, prosperity and recognition. The problems came later.

In a happy cycle

Alexander Grigorovich considered himself the inhabitant of Kiev, although born in Bialystok, Grodno province. As a child she appeared in Kiev – family relocation was associated with the work of the father, the financier. She graduated from the Kiev Ministerial women's gymnasium and entered the Kiev art school and after – at the Kiev art school. The young painter was at odds with the strict canons of academic art, but the ability to build on them and create a song mastered perfectly. In Kiev Alexander met with such important figures of the avant David Burliuk, Aristarkh Lentulov, Alexander Bogomazov, Nikolai Kulbin.

In 1905 Asya Grigorovich changed her name – she married her first cousin, a successful lawyer Nicholas Exeter. Wedding trip the couple took, going to Europe. In Munich Exter introduced my wife to my friend, the artist Alexei Jawlensky. He immediately recognized the great talent of Alexandra and to the best of their forces contributed to know about it, in particular, introduced her to Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriel Munter, Franz Marc. In those years Alexander works in neoimpressionism style, also not ignored by the Fauvism.

Until the beginning of the First world war she travels, never staying long in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Paris, Kiev, Odessa, Moscow, St.-Petersburg. Artistic talent and personal charm open in front of her door. In Paris, Alexandra Exter visits the Studio of portrait artist Carlo Deliwala, takes lessons at the art school La Grande Chaumiere and at Fernand Leger. Friendship with Robert and Sonia Delaunay enriches its capabilities in every sense: she interprets in his own way outdoor Robert the orphism and spouses through Delaunay down next to the famous gallery owner Wilhelm Haibara and Erwarton Walden.

In her paintings of that period, researchers noted a special lightness, light, air – and evident disregard for the details. Any story – no reason to tell the story depicted, and the opportunity to show a riot of color, colorful atmosphere.

In Paris, the artist became friends with Apollinaire, Marriage, Picasso. The latter shook her to the core. Cubism in the interpretation of Exter – not the unfolding of the subject on a simple form, but rather a synthesis image, a kind of pure geometric harmony without distraction to the plot. Soon, the artist meets with the Italian futurists, and Ardengo Soffici she's going to have a bright but brief affair. While Alexandra Exter actively participates in exhibitions abroad and in Russia. It seems, no significant domestic avant-garde exhibition of those years has not been without her.

Exter was close friends with Kazimir Malevich was fond of the ideas of Suprematism, and in its implementation, they often seemed more attractive to both viewers and critics, than in a dry manner Malevich. According to rumors, Asya Exter was the only one whom he allowed into his workshop.

Tairov and the theatre in the life of Alexandra Exter

Since 1916 begins an important stage in the life of Exter – cooperation with the theatre. As a brilliant decorator opens her Alexander Tairov. Introduced them Natalia Goncharova and Tairov was told the next day his actress, Muse and wife Alisa Koonen: "I spent the night with a wonderful woman!". They Exter sat "drink tea", and when morning dawned, it found that the plan works on performance "Famira kifared" ready!

Scenography Exter called "theatre of the revolution." The innovation was in the first place, that it made the main axis of the scenery, the light and introduced a vertical design.

In 1918 died of cholera Nicholas Exter. The artist had a conflict with his father, who gave the picture and do not let her into the house. Alexandra Exter suddenly found themselves without a livelihood, without shelter, and even without his own paintings. To cope with the loss, she works a lot, including opens Studio of decorative art, which teaches the tricks of the theatrical and design activities.

Like Sonia Delaunay Alexandra Exter is taken in those years for a variety of spheres, and all it does is it illustrates a futuristic collections, creates sketches of dresses (1, 2), scarves, pillows, lampshades, and participates in the organization of exhibitions of decorative arts and even designs the form to the red army. Not passed to Alexander Exter and the decoration of the streets to the revolutionary holidays. In Vitebsk fences painted Marc Chagall in Moscow tried Aristarkh Lentulov, and Alexandra Exter contributed to the celebration of the anniversary of the revolution in Odessa and Kiev streets.

In these years they Love again, plan joint work, and Asya Exter and just misses this brilliant, deeply embedded in her life. From her letter: "Write to me, my dear, a little more about yourself. Why do you have to think of me only in connection with the theatre. Do You already don't like just because You I deeply love...". Whether it was something more than cooperation? We can say only that the main place of women in the life and care given to the other Alice Koonen, and because he writes only ACE of the theater...

In 1920, Alexandra Exter moved to Moscow and got remarried. Her husband was George Nekrasov, actor Konstantin Nezlobin. He seemed too rustic next to continue "through the French" Exter, but adored her and very carefully treated her. Next year the scenery Alexandra Exter for the play Tairova "Romeo and Juliet" waiting resounding success. No performance, no – he will get a lot of negative reviews, success with sets and costumes (1, 2).

Abram Efros called Alexander Exter main culprit for the failure of the play: "It happened not because the scenery was bad – it couldn't be, they were made Exter! – but rather, because they were too good, or rather, luxury... Tairov called spirits, which failed. The most powerful of them was Exter".

Neither Alexander Tairov, nor Alisa Koonen were not ready to accept. More Tairov with Exter did not cooperate. For her, this situation was very painful. Nevertheless, 1923 dated one of her great luck works costumes for famous film "Aelita"based on the novel by Alexei Tolstoy.

Not emigration and parting with a string of successes

In 1924, Alexandra Exter and her husband coming to Venice for the Biennale. From there they can be. Not emigrated, no, just left. Apparently, though, she was really "through French", and the gap with Tairov was too heavy. Abroad Alexandra Exter continues to work. Diaghilev helped with the move to Paris, Fernand léger immediately invited to his school teacher. She is actively involved in the artistic process in Paris, continues the theater, her sets even crossing the ocean and exhibited in new York.

Collectors appreciate puppets, which Exter created in the late 20's - early 30-ies, most of them were made in a single copy. In the early 40's Alexandra Exter working on unique manuscript books.

But easy, successful life, a series of pleasures and successes are clearly left behind. In war, the artist leads a half-starved existence. In 1947, became the second husband, she held out after less than a year. Her student, friend and heir of Simon Lissima have done a lot to Shine in the beginning of the century Alexander Exter remembered again.

Author: Alain Esaulova
Go to biography


View all publications


All exhibitions of the artist
View all artist's artworks
Whole feed