Monday, October 22, 2012

Russian 101, Unit 3: Zinaida Serebryakova

(Self Portrait at the Dressing Table)
Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebryakova was born into a family that encircled themselves in the art world. Her father Yevgey, a famous sculptor, her mother a painter and her three brothers (one a painter, one a graphic artist, and one a sculptor)—naturally, in this family, she’d be not only interested in art but also, have talent in painting. After grammar school (or high school in Russian), she went to an Art School created by Princess Tenisheva (school name was known as Princess Tenisheva Art School) in St. Petersburg where she was directed by the realist painter Ilya Repin. Later, she studied at a studio directed by Osip Braz—and after studying at the studio, she decided to travel to Italy from 1902-1903. In going to Italy, she traveled to paris and studed for one full year at the Academie de la Grande Chaumierce. In returning home, she joined a type of Artist alliance in Russian where she displayed her paintings at a exhibition. A particular painting that led Serebryakova to her first step to fame as one of the first female Russian painters was her Self Portrait at the Dressing table—the painting was critique for its originality and its lack of pretension. Serebryakova was very interested in having her paintings be brought to life with the use of vivid colors and making her art so realistic (by using the geographical landscape and using the sculpture bodies as reference for her subjects). Later on in life, she married a famous writer and railway engineer named Boris Serebraykov—which they had 4 children together. Unfortunately, for Zinaida, her life took a turn for the worst when the October Revolution began. Riots took place in St Petersburg first and later spread to the capital of Russia, spreading chaos. This revolution had made Zinaida  lose her home, her husband (who died of typhus)—leaving her no choice but to escape to Paris with her 4 children. Over at Paris, she had to work to make a living. Although she could continue to draw and paint in her spare time, due to the low income, she had to use more charcoal, papers and pencils rather than paint to save some of the money. However, with that lack of art supplies, she was able to create a masterpiece that also gained Zinaida fame, the Castle of Cards--which depicted the lifestyle she and her 4 childrens faced during the October Revolution and their lifestyle at Paris. From that point on, with charcoal, pencil and some colors, she was able to draw some beautiful paintings--from ballerinas to nudity. And in the end, Zinaida Serebryakova spent her last moments at Paris.

When I look at the Self Portrait, rather than a lack of pretnsion, it seemed brilliant and vivid. It was almost like I was looking at someone else or myself through the mirror.

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