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Officers hairdresser

Mikhail Larionov • Painting, 1909, 117×89 cm
About the artwork
This artwork was added since it is referred to in the materials below
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene
Style of art: Neo-primitivism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1909
Size: 117×89 cm
Artwork in selections: 24 selections
Exhibitions history
Mikhail Larionov
September 19, 2018 − January 20, 2019
State Tretyakov gallery, Lavrushinsky lane, 10

Description of the artwork «Officers hairdresser»

Larionov urged to learn from the signboard designers, but not pompous academicians of the Academy of Arts. His famous Hairdressers (1, 2, 3) paintings were executed according to the principles of signboard design. They are part of the artist's "provincial cycle" that was painted in neo-primitivist style. 

The space in the paintings from of this series is flat and devoid of volume. It was not that Larionov lacked skills for rendering the volume, it was the artist's concept. 

 The Officers Hairdresser has its subject, but it is, obviously, not just the personal business of the depicted figures, it appeals to the viewer and it is intended for the viewer. Even the drapery in the upper part of the picture looks like a stage curtain of the scene, and the mirror, which disrupts the real geometry of the objects, was bent so that we could see it better. Frozen in his chair, the brave officer seems to have specially rounded his chest so that we can appreciate it. Note how the posture of the officer echoes with the form of a mirror and a saber bend! And the barber's long slender legs of the barber correlate with the legs of the client’s chair.

Deliberate details like the square shoulders, the protruding mustache, a napkin in chic drapery over the barber’s arm, huge scissors, and a carefully drawn hairbrush exaggerates the action, bringing true vitality and Larionov's irony to it. The hairdresser is very helpful and even slightly patronizing to his client and to the viewer. By the way, one cannot help, but to call him a waiter, as he has a napkin, and black and white uniform, and even a bow tie.

Soft and loving irony is one of the special characteristics of Larionov's "provincial series". There is neither arrogance here, nor neglect or assessment. At the same time, Larionov does not descend to the common people." When the artist paints his provincial life scenes, he obviously admires his subjects with a warm smile, be it a hairdresser, a pompous officer, a provincial woman or a dandy. Larionov also encourages us to do the same - it's not for nothing that they are so clearly “working for the public".

Written by Alyona Esaulova