Korovin Konstantin

Gurzuf Landscape 65х54 сm, oil on canvas
About work

The picture from the collection “Gurzuf Landscape” reflects some artistic methods in which Korovin paid tribute to the French Impressionism. It displays superb light colours that dominate and force out brown-yellow and silver palette so typical for his works of the earlier period.
“Colours can be a celebration for the eyes, and your eyes speak to your soul of joy and delight”… Korovin wrote in his memoirs.

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Korovin Konstantin Alekseevich
(1861, Moscow – 1939, Paris)

Konstantin Alekseevich Korovin is a painter that played an important role in formation of the new artistic thinking within the period of the late XIXth and the beginning of XXth century.

In his works the great Russian painter reflected his strivings to achieve ideally perfect painting and synthesis of expressive means, to reform pictorial vocabulary of visual representation.

He produced paintings on canvas, monumental panels, designed stage sets for the theatre and sections of exhibition pavilions, designs of buildings and interieurs, worked in book illustrations, applied arts and literature. He most successfully interpreted Impressionist ideas in various media in which he practiced and did not fail to impress people of that time with his numerous professional accomplishments.
Konstantin Korovin was born into a well-to-do merchant family belonging to the Christian old-believers.

Korovin entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he first studied architecture and later learned painting from Victor Vasnetsov, Alexei Savrasov and Vassily Polenov. Korovin was one of the artistic generation to which also belonged Vrubel, Diaghilev, Benois, Golovin, Bakst and very soon became one of the leading masters of his time.

The artist’s subsequent works were strongly influenced by his trips to Italy, France and Spain. He also traveled to Central Asia and to the North of Russia (Yaroslavl, Arkhangelsk), visited the White Sea and Norway, and at different periods of his life he lived in Paris.

In 1900 Korovin was designated head artistic designer of the Russian pavilions at the World Exhibition in Paris. The immensity of this task drew out the best of his talent, and he painted several large decoratively coloured panels. For this work Korovin received two gold and nine silver medals of the Exhibition as well as order of the French Legion (Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur). In 1905, Korovin became an Academician of Painting.

Before his emigration in the second decade of this century Konstantin Korovin showed great interest in painting Paris by night and by evening. He came to Paris every year where he made his brilliant records of impressions of the city’s bright, colourful, changeable life.

At the same time he often visited his summer cottage in Gurzuf (Crimea) which was also a favorite place to stay for such prominent guests as painters Repin and Surikov, Maksim Gorky, the writer, and his best friend Fedor Shaliapin. There the artist made a number of remarkable landscapes full of sunshine and marine colouring of the South.
The picture from the collection “Gurzuf Landscape” reflects some artistic methods in which Korovin paid tribute to the French Impressionism. It displays superb light colours that dominate and force out brown-yellow and silver palette so typical for his works of the earlier period.

“Colours can be a celebration for the eyes, and your eyes speak to your soul of joy and delight”… Korovin wrote in his memoirs.
The time in which this landscape was painted by Korovin was rather tragical for the artist. His brother Sergei Korovin, a prominent painter and a teacher, recently died, his second son had a tram accident in the result of which he had lost his leg (the first son of Korovin died in 1888).

Despite these tragic circumstances you cannot trace dramatic reflections in Korovin’s pictorial vocabulary. His pictures are full of light and sun-shining brush strokes, the palette is bright and expressive.

Gurzuf period of Korovin’s painting is one of the brightest and superb in colouring.

The painter was fascinated by the nature and inspired emotionally, he saw his creative task in expressing his attitude through rich and colourful reality of the painting depicted by his artistic imagination.

As Konstantin Korovin once said: “Beauty and appreciation of life. In reflection of the joy of living I see the essence of my works”.

The name of Konstantin Korovin is closely connected with the first experiments of introducing Impressionism into Russian painting.

He belonged to the great pleiad of Russian artists working at the end of XIXth and the beginning of XXth century.

Korovin was not only a remarkable landscape painter but also a recognized master of the many media in which he practiced including architecture and literature. Together with Serov he taught portrait-genre painting in the Moscow College of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

Besides, he was in charge of the painting workshop at the Stroganoff college. It was also under his collaboration that the “World of Art” magazine (Mir Iskusstva) had been established.

Apart from this, Korovin was appointed to be a chief decorator and painter-consultant of the Imperial Theatres in Moscow. At the time of collaboration with theatres the decors of such famous productions as “The Little Humpbacked Horse”, “Ruslan and Liudmilla”, “The Golden Cockerel”, “Khovanstchina”, “Faust”, “Prince Igor” were designed. Together with Vrubel, Korovin arranged stage design of “Sadko” and “Pskovitianka” productions.

After his emigration to Paris the artist continued his successful work for theatres.
The outstanding painter, graphic and stage designer, Korovin produced stage designs for many of the major theatres of Europe and America, the most famous of which is his scenery for a production by the Russian Opera of M.Kuznetsova in Paris, for the company of Anna Pavlova in London, for performance tour of his friend Fedor Shaliapin in Great Britain and the USA.

Nostalgic moods and feelings of the painter finding its way-out in memoirs and stories published by Korovin in Paris publications, can be also recognized in his paintings. The folk-art motifs with pertaining to this genre naive sincerity, artist’s great experience in scenery design of the old Russian fairly-tales and short stories can be easily traced in his works of that period.

To meet the nostalgic expectations of the Russian Parisiennes Korovin executed a number of picture-visions with the flavour of russian “lubok”, reminiscent of the snow-covered roads with traktirs (local taverns) and troikas (three horses harnessed abreast).

The work from the collection is one of these series. It is named “The Village Dancers”, dated 1934, and inscribed to Mikhail Mikhailovich Fokine. This period of Korovin’s life is full of oblivion, hardships and home-sickness. Though living abroad, he could not escape privations and misunderstanding. Similarly hard times awaited his artistic heritage. At the beginning of the century the Russian Impressionism and paintings of Korovin did not meet any support either from the part of Academism followers or from the advocates of the leading movement of the time: Neo-Clacissism and Avant-Garde. In 1930- 1950s the representatives of the official Soviet art were fiercely fighting with Impressionist elements in painting, although widely-recognized and significant pictures of Korovin had never left expositions of the Russian museums. His pictures were always considered to be brilliant examples of the highest standard of classic painting. The artistic heritage of Korovin was of great inspiration for the next generation unleashing artistic thinking of the painters of the late 1950s.

In spite of the hard destiny of the artist, the portraits, landscapes and still-lifes made by Korovin is inseparable part of the national memory and the Russian culture.
The history of art of the end of XIXth and early XXth century assigned a special place for Konstantin Alexeevich Korovin.

Being a contemporary and friend of such artists as M. Vrubel, I. Levitan, V. Serov, Kororvin chartered a new course in painting and produced innovative works. Like no one else in his artistic circle Korovin managed to reveal the visible beauty and colourful diversity of the world.

The remarkable painter, graphic and theatre designer, master of interiors, Korovin was also teaching the students.

Korovin moved to France to cure his handicapped son without knowing he would never return to Russia and starting from 1920s he lived in Paris.

This period of his life is well-known for his series of pictures named “The lights of Paris”’. The theme brought out to painting much earlier by Camille Pissarro was of great inspiration for many European artists. Korovin was literally charmed by the city’s twilight and brilliance of the lights reflected by the wet pavements. The artist had painted a great number of pictures the main subject of which is Paris by night or in the evening. Korovin was really fascinated by the noisy, bright and changeable life of Paris boulevards, its colourful vibration of light that he had tried to reveal in his paintings. In Korovin’s best works one can find the reflection of boisterous and crowded streets and squares of Paris, bright spots of dashing carriages and rushing pedestrians. The brush of the painter is unpretentious in strokes impressing the spectator with tints of gold, pink, green and yellow shades of colour.

The texture of Korovin’s painting is masterly and diverse, long wide brushstrokes are interrupted by short thrusts patterning transparent colours are overflowed by thick and dense colors. Extraordinarily high standard of technical discipline helped Korovin to reflect the minute impressions of what he had seen.

The work from the collection is a view sharply focused on buildings as in contrast to the wet enchanted twilight of the evening square. The wet pavement on the picture has absorbed all shades and colours of the sky, buildings, bright lamps, shop windows, shadows of people in a hurry. The shining yellow-ochre colour range of the picture is inviting you to the rendezvous in the rainy night Paris.

In the last years of his life Konstantin Korovin had been also recognized by contemporaries as a talented story-teller. Just as Perov, Repin and Nesterov he had become a prominent writer of memoirs.
The artistic heritage of the painter numbers a great many landscapes brilliant still-lifes, portraits and monumental paintings treasured by the numerous museums and private collectors.

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