This book examines the artistic life of Vitebsk during the years 1917-1922, when a great burst of creative experimentation transformed the modest Russian town into one of the most influential gateways to the art of the twentieth century. Spurred by native son Marc Chagall, who returned home after the October Revolution in 1917 to take the position of art commissioner, Vitebsk rose to a pinnacle of fame as an artistic laboratory for the avant-garde. It was here that such luminaries as El Lissitzky, Yuri Pen, Kazimir Malevich, Nikolai Suetin, Mikhail Bakhtin, and others worked, inspired one another, and made distinctive contributions to modernism. Art historian Aleksandra Shatskikh surveys the entire 'Vitebsk phenomenon', drawing on an array of archives in Russia and Amsterdam, many of which have never been open to Western scholars. She discusses Chagall's Academy of Art and its major teachers and students; the founding of the artists' group, UNOVIS; Malevich's architectural experiments; Bakhtin's circle; and important developments in theater and music in Vitebsk. With more than two hundred outstanding illustrations, the book brings Vitebsk to life at a fascinating and transformative moment in art history.
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