Chaotic Desires: Embodying Creative Anarchy in the Early Russian Avant-Garde

Destroy the Old World (Introduction)

The rise of Futurism in Russia indicated a radical shift in the way artists viewed social norms after the turn of the century. Futurism arguably started in 1910 and lasted until roughly 1918. This time in art is characterized by a drastic deconstruction in what constituted beauty and thus art itself. Russian Futurism was made up of two primary groups, one in St. Petersburg and the other in Moscow. These groups occasionally overlapped and had varying levels of collaboration, but often diverged in their ideas of what Futurism was meant to be. Those who were seen as not moving forward were left behind, as evidenced in the Russian Futurists’ split from the Italian Futurists. Despite this fact, Futurism was a more open and liberated movement than Constructivism or Socialist Realism in the sense that there were no set rules on what it meant to be moving towards the future. While there were micro movements within Futurism that certain artists adhered to such as cubo-futurism , rayism , or suprematism , the popular style was constantly changing and the defining feature of this period is its heterogeneity.

This moment leading up to the revolution is important to understand for two key reasons: first, it highlights the deconstruction in hegemonic norms that must occur before something new arrives and second, it illuminates how heterogenous ideas work together to bring forward a new future. In order to better understand how this deconstructive art is produced, it is critical to add a lens of gender and sexuality. In analyzing the works of art, as well as the gender performance and gender roles, of the women in futurism, it becomes clear how their subversive lifestyles aided in revolutionizing art and aesthetics.  
 

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