Studio: international art — 60.1914

Page: 116
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1 cm
Kay Nielsen s Drawings

keep the ideals of Igor Grabar very noble, if
always intangible.

There is still another young artist, bora in the
province of Samara on October it, 1869, who can-
not be classified as belonging to one or other of
the above-mentioned groups of revolutionary artists,
but who nevertheless, more than any other, has
aroused by his anti-traditionalist campaign the
indignation of the academic class both at home
and abroad, and who has been roundly abused
by some, whilst being enthusiastically hailed
as an artist of distinction by others. This is
Philip Maliavine, whose most important work,
Le Rire, hangs in the Galleria d’Arte Moderna
in Venice.

It was in the Art Exhibition at St. Petersburg
in 1899 that this work first appeared with the
simple title of Paysannes en rouge, and certainly
never was such a forceful and original work sent to
a competition for a travelling studentship. Those
robust paysannes, with their hearty and contagious
laughter, seemed as it were to have invaded those
forpid halls and, together with the spirit of their
portrayer, Maliavine, to have scorned the stagnant
art of that Academy. The professors were scan-
dalised beyond measure at the work of this son of
nature, whose crime also it was to be descended
himself from a peasant family and who, worse still,
had served for a part of his life with a brotherhood
in a monastery before dedicating himself to art, and
they not only refused to award him a travelling
scholarship, but would have also banished the
picture from the exhibition had not Repine him-
self opposed this hostile treatment of his pupil.
This work, when exhibited under the shorter and
more expressive title of Le Rire in the International
Exhibition of Paris in 1900, had a most triumphant
success, and was adjudged worthy of a diploma of

As is often the case after an early triumph which
renders the artist indolent and the public ex-
ceedingly exigent, Maliavine for some years did not
produce anything which would bear comparison
with this first work. In 1906, however, he ex-
hibited in Paris some figures, rather larger than life-
size, of Russian peasants in their national costume
of bright colours, depicted with nervous yet frank
ability and of extreme plasticity. Here, to the
great delight of our eyes, he showed that same
beauty of touch which marked his early triumph,
but which is at the same time a danger, since
it might be the means of tempting him away from
the sober study of the truth and of leading him
to the development of a mannerism.


The drawings of kay


It has become a truism to urge the impossi-
bility of “placing” an artist, of estimating him at
his proper worth during the short term of his
natural life. Nor is the reason far to seek. There
is the personal equation. The man’s attractions as
a man, his mentality, his very ego, all go to obscure
the issue, and help to make or mar his reputation
amongst his contemporaries. Take the case, for
example, of Aubrey Beardsley. A genius techni-
cally of the highest rank, the Beardsley mandate
seemed to wane with his frail and ailing body.
The term degenerate, that accusation of possessing
a “ warped and sinister outlook,” gave a bias.
What was perverse and macabre in his tempera-


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