Trivium Art History
The Artists

Olga Rozanova1886 — 1918

The intellectual mother of Abstract Expressionism

The intellectual mother of Abstract Expressionism

Olga Vladimirovna Rozanova burned hot and died young. Emerging from the provincial aristocracy of turn of the century Russia, she swept into Moscow with a focus and intellectual rigor that drew her immediately into the city's artistic avant-guard. It was a heady time. A time for manifestos. Rozanova tackeled the new developments in art on every front — debating with the art group Soyuz Molodyozhi, the 'Union of Youth,' and rigourously tackling the styles and theories of Italian Futurism in her works The City and Fire in the City — which impressed Filippo Marinetti, the founder of futurism himself. She blended futurism back into cubism for a series of 'playing card portraits' — immortalising her fellow artists as kings, queens, and knaves.

In 1912, Rozanova met the poet Aleksey Kruchonykh, her future husband, and illustrated his indecipherable Zaum poetry, Futurism's trans-rational language of pure expression. Then suddenly, futurism was no longer enough — Rozanova joined Kasimir Malevich's Suprematist group, diving into pure abstraction. Her vivid compositions expanded expanded the supremacist goals of expression without figures. 

But Rozanova burned out, a weaked immune system left her victim to diphtheria, and in 1917 she died. Her last works explored her final contribution to art — her fledgling concept of “colour painting” — bold, radically simple canvasses that 30 years later would spawn the Abstract Expressionist movement. Rozanova painted color fields before Rothko, and vertical lines before Barnett Newman. If only she'd lived a bit longer.

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Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi

Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi

1913
Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi

Illustration for Souz Molodyozhi

1913

There is nothing more awful in the world than repetition, uniformity

The Bases of the New Creation

1913
Man on the Street (Analysis of Volumes)

Man on the Street (Analysis of Volumes)

1913
City On Fire

City On Fire

1914
The City

The City

1914
Queen of Spades

Queen of Spades

1914-1915
King of Clubs

King of Clubs

1912-1915
Jack of Hearts

Jack of Hearts

1912-1915
Non-Objective Composition (Flight of an Airplane)

Non-Objective Composition (Flight of an Airplane)

1916
Non-Objective Composition

Non-Objective Composition

1916
Color Painting

Color Painting

1917
Green Stripe

Green Stripe

1917
1801
A genius colorist fights schizophrenia
Sigrid Hjertén
Machines that scream — inventing Futurist music
Luigi Russolo
Olga Rozanova
"I want to be the painter of my country"
Tarsila do Amaral
Sometimes a flower is just a flower
Georgia O'Keeffe
2000

The artists of Suprematism