The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is proud to present “Iliazd. The 20th century of Ilya Zdanevich” – the first retrospective exhibition dedicated to Ilya Zdanevich (1894–1975) to be shown in Russia. The display tells about the oeuvre of this poet, theorist of the Russian avant-garde, ethnographer, textile designer, and publisher. Zdanevich (Iliazd) was in close relationship with the leading artists of the 20th century – Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, and many others, as a friend and a colleague. The exhibition will feature all the editions created by Ilya Zdanevitch as livres d'artiste as well as more than 200 related original drawings by the masters he worked with.
The display includes artworks from private collections of Boris Fridman and George Gens, Iliazd archive (France), French private collections, the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art, the State Literary Museum, Saint Petersburg State Museum of Theater and Music, the Anna Akhmatova Museum at the Fountain House (Saint Petersburg), Chanel archive (France).
The exhibition concept is conceived by Boris Fridman, Guest Curator of the exhibition, Régis Gayraud, Expert Consultant, and Vitaly Mishin, Co-Curator (The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts).
Boris Fridman is founder and CEO of “Microinform” – one of Russia’s leading computer technologies training centers. He has been collecting livre d'artiste editions for more than fifteen years: “They combine a lot of things I am attracted to: these editions were created by amazing artists of the 20th century, there are gripping stories behind them. Every edition results from a creative cooperation of an artist, an author of a text, a typographer, a designer, and a publisher”.
Régis Gayraud is an expert in the Russian avant-garde, professor of Slavonic studies at the Blaise Pascal University (Clermont-Ferrand, France), a major specialist in the artistic heritage of Ilya Zdanevich who has published numerous essays about him.
Vitaly Mishin is the leading expert at the 19th-20th century European and American Art Department at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, custodian of the 19th-20th French drawings.
The exhibition is displayed in the seven rooms of the first floor of the 19th-20th century European and American Art Gallery, following the chronological development of Iliazd’s oeuvre. The first section is dedicated to the “Tiflis period” (1894–1920) – visitors will see futuristic editions of the artist and lectures posters. At that time, Zdanevich was active as public lecturer and talked regularly about futurism and the theory of “vsyochestvo” which involved a fusion of all the styles and genres. This section includes a portrait of young Ilya Zdanevich by Niko Pirosmani (1862–1918).
The next section tells about the first twenty years of Zdanevich’s life in Paris (1921–1940). In 1923 he adopted the alias Iliazd and became famous under this name. During his first years in Paris, Zdanevich participated in organizing the famous balls of the “Union of Russian Painters”; the posters for these balls were created by Iliazd in collaboration with Mikhail Larionov, Giorgio de Chirico, Viktor Bart, and many others. During his whole life, Iliazd was interested in architecture, studied history of Georgian, Armenian, and Spanish temples. The display includes Iliazd’s plans of temples, which he studied during his numerous travels.
The display of this room also features textile samples created by Iliazd for Gabrielle Chanel. Iliazd was introduced to Chanel by Serge Diaghilev, and this meeting resulted in a long lasting artistic collaboration and a close friendship. Initially he became the head of the graphic bureau of «TISSUS CHANEL», and eventually became the head of the factory. Exclusively for the exhibition, the Chanel Archive lent two photographic portraits of Gabrielle Chanel executed by Alexander Stuart. These photographs show Chanel wearing jersey costumes with patterns created by Iliazd.
The third section is the most extensive one – it takes five rooms and is dedicated to the most important artistic period of Iliazd’s oeuvre – his livre d’artiste editions that made him famous all over the world. Graphic works for these editions were created by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Fernand Leger, Georges Braque, Alberto Giacometti. The livre d’artiste genre was formed in the 20th century when the French marchand Ambroise Vollard started publishing literary texts accompanied by original prints. “Afet” (Paris, 1940) is the first livre d’artiste to be published by Zdanevich. This edition was created in cooperation with Pablo Picasso, Zdanevich’s longtime friend; it contains seventy-six sonnets written in Russian in iambic pentameter. Iliazd gave the six original prints under the numbers from I to VI to his friends – publishers Snegarov and Chalitte, as well as to Pablo Picasso, Dora Maar, Joanne Spencer, and Gabrielle Chanel. The exhibition features the fifth edition of “Afet”, which was given to Gabrielle Chanel. Exclusively for her, a special dedication to Chanel - the seventy-seventh sonnet – was added to the book.
Another livre d’artiste that has to be mentioned is “65 Maximiliana, or Illicit astronomy sessions” (Paris, 1964). It is one of Zdanevich’s most complex and unusual projects, which he created together with Max Ernst, who made 34 original etchings for this edition.
More than half of the works exhibited have never been shown to the wide public in Russia before. The retrospective exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, which contains a scrupulous analysis of Zdanevich’s life and oeuvre. The Museum will also host an international conference with leading Russian and International art historians.
The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts would like to thank Russian art collectors and foreign colleagues for lending unique artworks and archive materials.
General partner of the exhibition – CHANEL