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37 artworks, 9 artists
Rayonism (fr. rayon — ray) is one of the first art movements of Russian avant-garde. It was invented by the artist Mikhail Larionov, whose ideas were shared by his wife, Natalia Goncharova, and their friends and fellow artists in the art association “Jack of Diamonds”. The scientific and metaphysical studies of that time formed the foundation of the new trend theoretical basis. The discovery of X-rays and radioactivity changed the usual perception of the hardness and stability of the objective world; whereas the theory of the spatial four-dimensionality as a sphere of cosmic consciousness united man and nature.
A distinctive feature of rayonism was the artists’ desire to expand objects into the surrounding space. They tried to convey the energies uniting every matter and determining its constant interaction by artistic methods, depicting rays in the form of coloured lines. The first rayonist paintings depicted existing objects, whose forms were distorted and expanded by energy flows in the form of rays, “obliterating the boundaries between the plane and nature”. Larionov and his associates relied on the theories of Pyotr Ustinov, an esoteric philosopher, mathematician, and admirer of Hinduism, who created his theory of the fourth dimension and argued that the true reality is not visible to the human eye.
Developing the theory of rayonism, the artists soon abandoned objectivity in their paintings, moving on to the depiction of pure light and energies — “pneumorayonism”. In 1911, Mikhail Larionov created the Rayonism Manifesto, which was published only two years later. Explaining his technique, he wrote: “Those objects that we see in life do not play any role here, the same thing that is the essence of painting itself can best be shown here — a combination of colour, its saturation, colour mass ratio, depth, texture...” The rayonists presented their art movement as a synthesis of Cubism, Futurism and Orphism, they denied the difference between the “old art” and the “new art” welcoming painting that is free from real forms. In 1913, the Target exhibition was held in Moscow, at which Larionov, Goncharova and their associates widely displayed their works.
After leaving for Paris in 1914, the artists Larionov and Goncharova did not work in the style of rayonism, as they started their cooperation with the organizer of the Russian Seasons, Sergei Diaghilev and his ballet troupe. Nevertheless, the principles of non-figurative energetic art have left their mark on Russian avant-garde painting and influenced such art movements as constructivism and suprematism.
Famous rayonist pictures: “Glass” by Mikhail Larionov, 1909 “Peacock in Bright Sunlight” by Natalia Goncharova, 1911 “Old Love” by Mikhail Larionov, 1912 “Rooster and Hen” by Mikhail Larionov, 1912 “Portrait of Larionov”, Natalia Goncharova, 1913