Thursday, November 1, 2012

Exter, Alexandra

oil on canvas
88.5 x 70.5 cm
Kiev Regional Art Museum, Vologda, Russia

Alexandra Exter (1882 - 1949) was a Russian painter and designer of Polish birth. She was a Suprematism and Constructivism painter, and co-founder of the Art Deco movement. As one of the founders of Art Deco, she developed her own style of art by combining her education with western avant-garde influences.

Exter was born into a wealthy family in a part of Imperial Russia which is now Poland. Due to her family's wealth, she was able to receive an exceptional education. She studied several subjects including music, languages, and private drawing lessons. In 1903 she studied painting at Kieve art school. That same year she married and spent several months with her husband in Paris where she attended the Academie de la Grand Chaumiere in Montparnasse. As a result of her education and travel, her style of art was a mixture of Russian, Cubism, and Futurism. She was a personal friend of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Gertrude Stein. In 1914 she participated in the International Futurist Exhibition in Milan, and in 1915 she joined The Supremus, an avant-garde artist's group. She and her husband emigrated to France in 1924 and settled in Paris where she became a professor at the Academie de l'Art Moderne in Paris and Fernand Leger's Academie de l'Art Contemporain.

Exter was also a stage designer. She worked as a costume designer until 1920. Her abilities brought Exter to Alexander Tairov's Chamber Theater and to the ballet studio of the dancer Bronislava Nijinska, the sister of Vaslav Nijinsky. She was active as an illustrator until her death on March 17, 1949, in the Parisian suburb of Fontanay-aux-Roses.