'Racy of the Soil': Filipp Maliavin's London Exhibition of 1935
The Exhibition of Russian Art in London in June to July 1935 was the most extensive showcase of Russian art, including contemporary, displayed to the British public since 1917 and prompted a new discourse on Russian art at the time. The exhibition was not, however, the only exhibition of Russian art in London that year; in October Russian émigré Filipp Maliavin—oddly absent from the Exhibition of Russian Art—held a solo exhibition of 100 paintings and drawings titled ‘Pictures and Drawings of Russian Life’ at the New Burlington Galleries. It was one of many solo exhibitions Maliavin held throughout Europe between 1933-7 but his first large public display in the United Kingdom.
Peasant girl by Maliavin
This paper will examine the press response to Maliavin’s exhibition and look into which works were sold in order to explore how popular his work was with a British public. This paper will also closely consider the impact of an exhibition devoted to Russian peasant life on British audiences in the 1930s, taking the socio-political climate of British-Soviet relations into account. The context of the Exhibition of Russian Art will be an essential element in determining how Maliavin’s work was characterised and understood by the British public.
Paper given at the Fifth Fitzwilliam Colloquium in Russian Studies "British Perception and Reception of Russian Culture, 18th-20th Centuries", Cambridge, 2012. Full text published in A People Passing Rude: British Responses to Russian Culture, ed. By Anthony Cross. Open Book Publisher, 2012.