Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova - Stage Design for
Stage Design for 'The Firebird’, Act II
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Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova (Nagaevo, nr. Tula 1881 - Paris 1962)

Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova was a Russian avant-garde artist, painter, costum designer, writer, illustrator and set designer. Her great aunt was Natalia Pushkina, wife of the poet Alexander Pushkin.

Goncharova was born near Tula in Russia in 1881. She studied sculpture at the Moscow Academy of Art, but turned to painting in 1904. She was deeply inspired by the primitive aspects of Russian folk art and attempted to emulate it in her own work while incorporating elements of fauvism and cubism. Together with her husband Mikhail Larionov (1881-1964) she first developed Rayonism. They were the main progenitors of the avant-garde pre-Russian Revolution, organising the Donkey’s Tail exhibition in 1912 and exhibiting with Der Blaue Reiter in Munich the same year.

The Donkey’s Tail was conceived as an intentional break from European art influence. Its goal was to establish an independent Russian School of modern art. Goncharova became famous in Russia thanks to works such as The Cyclist and her later Rayonnist works.

Just as their Italian counterparts, Goncharova and Larionov, as leaders of the Moscow Futurists, organised provocative lecture evenings. Goncharova was also designing, writing and illustrating a Futurist book.

Goncharova was a member of Der Blaue Reiter from its founding in 1911. In 1915, she began designing ballet costumes and sets in Geneva. She moved to Paris in 1921, where she designed numerous stage sets of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
She became a French citizen in 1939 and died in Paris in 1962.

On June 18th 2007 Goncharova 1909’s painting Picking Apples was auctioned at Christie’s for $9.8 million, setting a record for any female artist. The record was updated a year later when Goncharova 1912’s still-life The Flowers (formerly part of Guillaume Apollinaire’s collection) sold for $10.8 million.