THE AVANT-GARDE IN RUSSIA, 1910-1930 -- At the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden through February 15, 1981.
The galleries on the Hirshhorn Museum's third floor are filled to overflowing with more than 450 works of modern art: "The Avant-Garde in Russia, 1910-1930," documents the evolution of Russian visual arts during a 20-year period of social upheaval and political revolution.
Besides the many paintings and sculptures, the display includes fabric and costume designs; books and magazines; architectural constructions; posters, photographs and other works on paper; a reconstructed stage set, and ceramics and assorted collages.
The chronological exhibit reveals several factions within the Russian avant-garde: Neoprimitivism, Cubo-Futurism, Rayonism, Suprematism, Constructivism and Productivism. Many of the 40 artists whose works are displayed worked in a number of styles, including Kazimir Malevich, the creator of Suprematism, and Vladimir Tatlin, the father of Constructivism.
Much of Malevich's work is characterized by stark, geometric designs that express, in the artist's words, "the supremacy of pure feeling." This spiritual attitude is neatly evoked in "Suprematism," a small, simple watercolor done in 1920.
Tatlin's abstract constructions had a strong influence on Russian stage design and also on architecture. (His model for a "Monument to the Third International" is a daring design for a monumental building that unfortunately was never built.)
Other artists represented in the show include Marc Chagall, who emigrated to Berlin in 1922; Olga Rozanova, a painter; El Lissitzky, a designer and typographer; and Vasilii Kandinsky, who left Russia to teach at the Bauhaus.