A revolutionary figure in the fine arts avant garde of the 20th century, Florence Deborah POPOVA (1885- 1972) is nowadays also seen to be central for the emancipation of the female Eastern European Art.
Born in 1885 in Omsk, Siberia, close to the border of Kazakhstan to a Jewish-Hungarian mother and a French aristocratic father she soon discovered the human body as her source of warmth and inspiration in the unreal and remote surrounding of her homeland. At the age of six POPOVA had her first gaze at Italian and French paintings of the 16th and 17th century and they immediately took away her breath and would later form a huge influence on her process of work. After graduating in Sculptor from the Russian Academy of Arts in Moscow in 1906 she agitated the conservative local art lovers and mingled among the intellectual elite. Her new conception of the nude shattered all previous thoughts and shocked the consistently male art scene. During that period POPOVA was acquainted with personages such as Kazimir Malevich, El Lissitzky and Vladimir Tatlin who she soon despised for their “tame manners” and thereupon headed off to Paris in 1910. Once established in the most vibrant, stimulating and lustful city on the planet whose charm had been haunting the foreign artist’s souls with the vague promise of the muse’s kiss POPOVA was able to unfold all of her thoughts and skills. Liaison after liaison followed and she became an integral part of Parisian art scene. POPOVA‘s “Cycle of Butt” (1912) was heavily disputed by the critics and entered the annals of early 20th century history of art. In 1914 at the outbreak of World War I the artist broke away to the south of France to escape a possible invasion of German troops. There POPOVA bought land in Bouches-du-Rhône and subsequently founded a new art collective together with some female artists she encountered during her years in Paris. They called themselves “Les Enfants de la Terre”. The collective’s aim was freeing the body from the bonds of social uptightness and to focus on the human ass in all its variety. In the Russian year of revolution 1917 she tried to go back to her home country but was unable to do so due to the birth of her twins Dora and Lea. After the end of the war together with her children and most of the collective’s members POPOVA moved back to Paris and started all over again. The piece “Analysing the Rear Part” (1919) can bee seen as the intersection of her life as well ass her work…
This book deals with POPOVA‘s fascinating life and manifold oeuvre and tries to focus upon the influences of old masters (such as Poussin and Pontormo) on her paintings and drawings. New extracts from POPOVA‘s diary give a an insight into her inner feelings and experiences and never before shown images let one of the most mesmerizing artists of the 20th century appear ass if back to life again.
this post is part of he subjective library project "Unopened Book"
the book can be found at the Rietveld library : catalog no : -pop-1