Mikhail Fedorovich Larionov (Mikhail Fyodorovich Larionov; born June 3, 1881 – died May 10, 1964) is an outstanding Russian artist of the 19th-20th centuries, a neo-primitivist and avant-garde artist, the founder of Rayonism. During his long life, Mikhail Larionov repeatedly experimented with creative styles and trends – either he was fond of late impressionism, depicting lilac bushes and bathers in his paintings, or he made simple sketches from soldier’s life or even put painting aside, temporarily turning into a stage designer and choreographer of Parisian theater productions.
But he is best known for creating a new, revolutionary style for his time. Larionov claimed that all objects, living and non-living, emit light reflected from other objects, and it was these rays that he tried to capture in his works. He was the first in Russia to declare that it is possible not only to paint existing objects in a different way, but also to reflect something non-existent in the pictures.
Biography of Mikhail Larionov
Mikhail Larionov was born on June 3, 1881 in Tiraspol, Kherson province in the family of a military doctor. Here he spent his childhood and repeatedly returned to his homeland in adulthood to write summer sketches. When the boy grew up, the family moved to Moscow, and in 1898 Mikhail entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.
For conflicts with teachers and “immoral” images of naked women, he was expelled from the school and was able to recover only a few years later, graduating only in 1910. The beginning of Larionov’s creative path is magnificent impressionistic landscapes of the native expanses of Bessarabia, cozy corners of village gardens and rickety houses in narrow streets. These paintings are filled with light and life, they demonstrate the high skill and true sense of color of the master.
In 1906, the artist went to Paris to exhibit his works at the Russian exhibition of the Autumn Salon.
The paintings were received favorably by the public, but for Larionov this no longer mattered – he was amazed by Paris, and even more so by the new trends in painting that forever influenced his style. The master admired the works of contemporary authors, in particular, the Fauvists, and after returning to Russia he began to write in a radically new genre for himself, which was called neo-primitivism.
Larionov argued that children should be inspired, wrote sincerely and honestly, depicted scenes from ordinary life, in particular, a soldier’s. Many viewers were shocked by the directness, even the vulgarity of the work, but this did not stop the master. However, it did not take long to marvel at the primitiveness of Larionov’s paintings – already in 1912 he gave the world Rayonism.
“To fix what is already there, there is a camera,” the author argued and boldly covered the canvases with bright intersecting lines. In some of his works, objects are quite recognizable – here is a rooster, there is a sausage, and this is clearly a yellow-green autumn landscape. In others, one can only guess about the origin of objects and their presence in general. These works are dynamic, filled with life, color and light, the line between the canvas and the one looking at it is blurred, as if the lines live outside of space.
Mikhail Larionov lived in Russia until 1914.
Having gone to Paris to paint the scenery for the ballet entreprise “Russian Seasons” at the invitation of Sergei Diaghilev, he stayed here forever. However, he managed to design the scenery, and even worked as a co-choreographer and screenwriter. In 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, he went to the front, where he was wounded. Wanted to return to Russia in 1918, but considered it too dangerous.
With his first wife, the artist Natalya Goncharova, who was the great-great granddaughter of Pushkin’s wife, the painter met at the school. She accompanied the master all her life, actively supported his creative ideas. The couple held free views on the relationship. The artists lived more than 45 years out of wedlock, sealing the union with a stamp only in 1955 for the sake of the inheritance.
In 1962, after Natalya’s death, Larionov married Alexandra Tomilina, who had been his mistress for over 30 years. Natalya knew about their relationship and also repeatedly met with other men. The painter died a natural death in 1964 on May 10. Mikhail Larionov, Natalya and Alexandra are buried in the same grave.
Mikhail Larionov was an extraordinary, original personality, he was not interested in the rules and framework for the creation of painting. The master dreamed that someday scientists would invent a device that captures the rays, and then we will see the amount of love that a person feels for us …