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Elena Guro

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

Russian painter and poet. She has an important place in the development of Russian modernism, as one of its founders and inspirations, and as an artist of independent and original vision. She studied at the drawing school of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, St Petersburg (1890–93), in Yan Tsionglinsky’s private studio (1903–5) and at the Zvantseva School (1906–7) under Mstislav Dobuzhinsky and Léon Bakst. She was attracted to Symbolist literature and her visual art was characterized by a psychological impressionism that first appeared in the work she showed in exhibitions organized by Nikolay Kul’bin in 1908–10. Guro concentrated on elements of the Finnish landscape near her dacha, be that a leaf or the seashore, on her cats, her husband (the painter and musician mikhail Matyushin) or on items such as a drainpipe or the cobbles of a street. Using watercolour and ink, she moved away from visual mimesis towards a Japanese-style response to nature and an empathy with her surroundings, as in The Shore (c. 1909) and Pines (c. 1912; both Moscow, Cent. Archvs Lit. & A.). She was also affected by the Neo-primitivist movement that began in Russia c. 1908. Closely associated with the Burlyuk brothers and their Wreath group (Venok), she began to use Primitivist techniques derived from signboards and folk art, particularly in oil paintings such as Morning of the Giant (1910; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.) and Tea-drinking (c. 1910; Orel, A.G.). In 1912, together with the Burlyuks and Futurist poets, including Aleksey Kruchonykh, Guro and Matyushin organized the group Hylaea, the literary counterpart of the Union of youth, the leading St Petersburg avant-garde art society, originally founded by Guro and Matyushin in 1909. Guro’s poetry and prose, like her visual art, was less iconoclastic than that of her colleagues. All forms of her creative output, which are cohesively integrated with one another, reflect her spiritual relationship with nature, a child-like perception and openness to fantasy, and a delicate, primeval freshness.

Jeremy Howard
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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