The Advent of Abstraction: Russia, 1914-1923 - Rare opportunity to see outstanding examples of Russian avant-garde art, the earliest fully abstract art

On view at the National Gallery of Canada
Until March 12, 2017

OTTAWA, Dec. 8, 2016 /CNW/ - The beginning of the twentieth century in Russia was a period of great social and political upheaval; it also witnessed intense experimentation by its visual artists.  Andréi Nakov, renowned expert on this period of Russian art,  has assembled key pieces that capture the essence of this important moment in the history of abstract art for the National Gallery of Canada's newest exhibition: The Advent of Abstraction: Russia, 1914–1923. More than 20 works of the Russian avant-garde, rarely seen together, will be on view at the National Gallery of Canada as part of the Masterpiece in Focus series from December 9, 2016 to March 12, 2017.

The Advent of Abstraction: Russia, 1914-1923 brings together paintings, drawings, prints, manuscripts and books dating from the first decades of the twentieth century. It features works by artists who introduced an entirely new direction for the visual arts, one that was fully abstract, as opposed to the more familiar representational style. Highlights of the show include a rare relief sculpture by Vladimir Tatlin,  one of the most influential artists of the Russian avant-garde and founder of Constructivism; an important painting by Kazimir Malevich, among the most significant abstract painters in Europe and the creator of Suprematism; an abstract relief by Ivan Kliun; and works by women artists Liubov Popova and Olga Rozanova. These exceptional examples of Russian Abstraction offer context for the Gallery's significant work by El Lissitzky, Proun 8 Stellungen—a rotating aerial view of primary forms.

The National Gallery of Canada acquired Proun 8 Stellungen in 1973. Other works on display comprise loans from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, Greece, and from private collections in Europe and North America. The Gallery gratefully acknowledges the Distinguished Patrons of the National Gallery of Canada Foundation for their generous support of this exhibition.  

The Advent of Abstraction: Russian, 1914- 1923 is one of several North American exhibitions organized to coincide with the centennial of the 1917 Russian revolution. The catalogue for the show will be released in the New Year.  With texts by scholar and exhibition curator Andréi Nakov, it provides valuable research into the development of abstraction in Russia: a decisive moment in the history of twentieth-century art.

Meet the curator
Saturday, December 10 at noon, Andréi Nakov, guest curator of The Advent of Abstraction: Russia, 1914-1923 will discuss some of the key concepts of the exhibition. A renowned art historian and specialist of the Russian avant-garde, Nakov is the author of several works about Kazimir Malevitch whose work is highlighted in the exhibition. In Gallery C218. In French with bilingual question period. Included with Gallery admission. 

Meet the expert
Saturday, January 14, 2017 at noon, Adam Welch, Associate Curator of Canadian Modern art, will discuss how the art of El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin – among others – grew out of the chaos of the 1917 October Russian revolution. In Gallery C218. In English with bilingual question period. Included with Gallery admission. 

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The Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, and Thursdays until 8 pm. Closed Mondays. Free admission on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm. Open between December 26 and January 8 inclusive. Closed on December 25 and January 1. For more information call 613-990-1985 or 1-800-319-ARTS.

Tickets: $12 (adults); $10 (seniors and full-time students); $6 (youth: 12-19); $24 (families: two adults and three youth). Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for Members. Includes admission to the NGC Collection.

About Masterpiece in Focus
Launched in 2013, the National Gallery of Canada's Masterpieces in Focus exhibition series provides its visitors with an opportunity to learn more about their national collection, through rich and highly accessible content organized by the Gallery's experts.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains an extensive touring art exhibition programme. For more information:

About the National Gallery of Canada Foundation
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is dedicated to supporting the National Gallery of Canada in fulfilling its mandate. By fostering strong philanthropic partnerships, the Foundation provides the Gallery with the additional financial support required to lead Canada's visual arts community locally, nationally and internationally. The blend of public support and private philanthropy empowers the Gallery to preserve and interpret Canada's visual arts heritage. The Foundation welcomes present and deferred gifts for special projects and endowments. To learn more about the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, visit


SOURCE National Gallery of Canada

For further information: For media only: Josée-Britanie Mallet, Senior Media and Public Relations Officer, National Gallery of Canada, 613.990.6835,

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