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4 Arts Society

The 4 Arts Society - Четыре Искусства

1925 - 1932, Member List

Exhibition catalogue. 1926.

In 1925 (or, according to some sources, 1924) a movement was created by the name of the 4 Arts Society. It has brought together artists of several generations and artistic inclinations, from the masters of the Blue Rose and the World of Art and to representatives of the most leftist groupings.

The members, above all those from the Blue Rose movement, have keenly felt the need of integrating the fine arts into life. This, in their opinion, was to be achieved by the bringing together all four types of fine arts: painting, architecture, sculpture and graphic art, which has served as the origin of the movement's name.

Throughout the course of its existence the movement has brought together around 70 members: painters, sculptors, graphic artists, architects. Among them artists such as I.M.Chaikov, V.Favorsky, K.Istomin, N.Kliun, N.N.Kupreyanov, P.V.Kuznetzov, V.Lebedev, L.Lissitzky, A.T.Matveyev, P.V.Miturich, V.Mukhina, A.Ostroumova-Lebedeva, K.S.Petrov-Vodkin, M.S.Saryan, N.Tyrsa, I.V.Zholtovsky and others.

Exhibition catalogue. 1929.

The manifesto of the 4 Arts Society was published in 1929 in "Ezhegodnik literatury i iskusstva" (Annual Journal of Literature and Art, Komacademy Publishing). "It is above all the quality of his work that the artist presents to the viewer. It is in this quality alone that the artist's relationship to the world which surrounds him is expressed... Under the conditions of Russian tradition, we consider artistic Realism to be the most suitable to the contemporary art culture... We value above all the French School, as having developed most fully and comprehensively the basic tenets of the art of painting...

"The content of a work is not characterized by its subject matter... the latter being but the pretext for the transformation of material into artistic form... This new form is important not by virtue of similarity to living form, but by virtue of its harmony with the material out of which it is constructed. This material being the surface of t he picture, colour, - the paint, the canvas..."

The members of the 4 Arts Society were all masters of brilliant abilities and skills. They followed principles of Realism, but also stressed the importance of the careful realization of the intended subject in complete and perfect form. A considerable group of young artists of the society has religiously attended all meetings, held in the workshops of the artists by rotation, as the society had no dedicated address. These evenings were spent in review of new artistic publications and magazines in every artistic and industrial field, in hearing musical performances and meeting writers and poets.

The society have held several exhibitions: in 1925 and in 1926 in Moscow; in 1928 in Leningrad; and in 1929 in Moscow. They also participated in a few other exhibitions. Selection of works for the exhibitions was very relaxed and free, the artists selecting their own works.

The first exhibition in 1925 was opened by an inspired and fascinating speech by A.V.Lunacharsky, and the quartet by the name of Stradivarius payed, adding to the importance of this event. On Saturdays, when a good amount of public gathered, musicians and singers were invited to perform. As E.Bebutova and P.Kuznetsov recalled later, music has become almost the 5th Art member in the 4 Arts complex.

After the third exhibition of the 4 Arts Society in 1928, the art critic Gross has written: "A fresh wind has blown in the stagnant atmosphere of Leningrad's artistic world... The  4 Arts Society exhibition has opened. This Society occupies a prominent place, both by virtue of its broad scope and in terms of the artists who belong to it, and who give the Society a definite face of its own" ("The Struggle of Fine Arts in the 30s", M., 1962).

However, the 4 Arts Society was not understood among the official circles. The artists following of the world art and culture, their aim for high professionalism, their careful hard strive for perfect form and complete subject, all this was branded "contraband" and "artistic counterrevolution", as wrote the journal "Iskusstvo v massy" (Art for the Masses). The society was accused with having "narrow formalist, really bourgeois, tendencies".

This political pressure has in effect brought the activity of 4 Arts Society movement to an end a short time before the great "reform", in 1932, when it was dispersed along with the other groups and societies.


Some of the information of this page was taken from:

  • The book "Meer Axelrod" by Fiodorov G., published by Sovetsky khudozhnik, Moscow. 1982
  • The book "Meer AXELROD" by Axelrod Elena, published by Mesilot, Jerusalem. 1993


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