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Learning at Somerset House
STUDY MORNING: CIRCLING THE SQUARE: AVANT-GARDE PORCELAIN FROM REVOLUTIONARY RUSSIA Courtauld Institute, Seminar Room I Saturday 14 May
If you would like to attend this Study Morning, please email
or telephone 020 7420 9406. The fee is £20 and includes coffee/tea and entrance to the exhibition.
Registration opens at 10.00 am in the Courtauld Institute of Art Reception (opposite the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery)
10.15 Monica Bohm-Duchen: The Political Background
By tracing the dramatic transition from Imperial to Soviet Russia, the first talk provides an introduction to the turbulent political, social and historical context necessary for a deeper understanding of the works on display in the Circling the Square exhibition.
10.45 Monica Bohm-Duchen: Suprematism
The second talk sets these works in a broader cultural context, by considering the complex, fascinating and often problematic relationship between artistic and political revolution. Why was it that the Russian avant-garde, convinced that a radically new geometric abstract art was the only appropriate art for a new society, was initially embraced by the new political regime, but was ultimately suppressed, and supplanted, by an artistically retrograde Soviet Socialist Realism?
12:00 Anne Haworth: Technique and Production
The gathering of artists and the prolific output of original designs at the State Porcelain factory during the Revolutionary period was unprecedented. The eclectic mix of styles created for reproduction on porcelain 'blanks' ranged from the geometric patterns of the Suprematists composed of blocks of colour to the polychrome propaganda plates with detailed pictorial decoration. The talk explores the role of Sergei Chekhonin in directing production, the methods of porcelain manufacture, figure modelling and porcelain painting and analyses the use of materials such as enamel pigments which differ from the watercolour and gouache of the designs on paper.
12:30 Anne Haworth: The Legacy
The final talks looks at the porcelain designs of the post-1925 era shown in the Exhibition, contrasting these with the spirit of the immediate
post-revolutionary years and examines the impact of Stalinist Socialist Realism on the work and fate of the Revolutionary artists before following
the history of Lomonosov porcelain to the present day. The lecture also focuses on the impact of Soviet porcelain in the West, chronicling
exhibitions, collecting activity and general awareness of Russian porcelain in the years preceding the present Exhibition.
Monica Bohm-Duchen is a specialist in twentieth century art and is currently teaching at the Courtauld Institute of Art and Birkbeck College.
Anne Haworth is an expert on ceramics and has worked at Christies and the V&A.