Natalia Goncharova Russian, 1881-1962


Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova was a Russian avant-garde painter and illustrator as well as a costume and set designer. Married to the Russian avant-garde artist Mikhail Larionov, she was a founding member of the Jack of Diamonds, Moscow's first radical independent exhibiting group and the even more radical Donkey's Tail. Together Goncharova and Larionov invented Rayonism. Goncharova was also part of the expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter.



Born into the lower nobility, Natalia Goncharova is admitted in 1898 to the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture where she meets her future husband Mikhail Larionov. She initially studies sculpture but she specialises in painting, under painter Konstantin Korovin’s teaching.


From 1900, she starts painting and participating in numerous art exhibitions not only in Russia but also in Paris. Goncharova is an active member of Der Blaue Reiter group from its beginings in 1911.


In 1912, she founds with her husband the Primitivism group in Moscow, which claims to be a return to a popular art and forms an artistic group: Donkey’s Tail. They organize an exhibition where fifty of her paintings are displayed. Several of her works, considered blasphemous are seized by the police.


From 1914, Natalia Goncharova works as an artist for the theatre, including for Sergei Diaghilev’s production of the Golden Cockerel. The following year, Diaghilev invites her to work for the famous ballet company’s Russian Season.


In 1917, she definitively settles in Paris with Larionov and continues to design sets for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. In the following years, she participates in various exhibitions such as the Salon d’Automne in 1921, and exhibits regularly at the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon des Indépendants.