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Union of Youth

Union of Youth - Soyuz Molodiozhi - Союз Молодёжи

1909 - 1917, Member List

A society existed in St.Petersburg – Petrograd (1910-1917) and consolidated of artists (of Cubism, Cesanism, Futurism, Non-objectivism and other), writers and theatre actors. The following artists took part in the Union: Yuri Annenkov, Lev Bruni, Varvara Bubnova, David Burliuk, Vladimir Burliuk, Valentin Bystrenin, Marc Chagall, Alexandra Exter, Pavel Filonov, Alexey Grishchenko, Ivan Kliun, Nadezhda Lermontova, Kazimir Malevich, Waldemars Matvejs, Piotr Miturich, Alexey Morgunov, Ivan Puni, Olga Rozanova, Alexandr Shevchenko, Iosif Shkolnik, Eduard Spandikov, Vladimir Tatlin, Nikolai Tyrsa, Nadezhda Udaltzova, Sviatoslav Voinov, and Levkii Zheverzheyev (as chairman).

Cover for Journal "Union of Youth" #2, 1912.

The first exhibition was held in 1910 in St.Petersburg. In the Union of Youth exhibitions the members of the Jack of Diamonds and of the Donkey’s Tail groups also participated.

Union of Youth focused a great deal of attention in their creative work on developing the formal basics of painting. In her article "The Basics of New Creativity and Causes of Its Incomprehension" Olga Rosanova wrote: "Only the modern Art has fully proposed the seriousness of such principles as dynamism, dimensionality and balance, heaviness and weightlessness, linear and planar displacement, the rhythm as a natural phenomenon of space division, layout, planar and surface measurement, texture, color interaction and numerous other principles" (from the book of collected articles "Union of Youth", St.Petersburg, 1913).

In 1913 the literary group "Gilea" has joined the Union of Youth (including Vladimir Mayakovsky, Velimir Khlebnikov, Elena Guro, Alexei Kruchenykh and others). A journal "Union of Youth" was published, theatrical performances were staged: like Victory Over the Sun (music by M.Matiushin, libretto by A.Kruchenykh and V.Khlebnikov, set décor by K.Malevich) and the tragedy "Vladimir Mayakovsky" (set decor by P.Filonov and I.Shkolnik).

The Union of Youth artists were young, full of enthusiasm, well educated, dedicated to their creative search and obtaining great success in the development of painting form, expression and technique. Their achievements were marked by awards at international exhibitions abroad.

Cover for Journal "Union of Youth" #3, 1913.

Russian Art of this time renders the great influence from the world art. W.Kandinsky and K.Malevich were the forefathers of new trends in art: Abstractionism and Suprematism; P.Filonov began the Analytic Art (to these three artists and their teachings we devote separate pages).

However, their achievements were not understood in their homeland, and they still are not. Before the Revolution of 1917, there was the World War I. At that time public interest was not directed to art. After the October Revolution came the Civil War and devastation.

Soviet government used the art and the artists for communist propaganda, but was not concerned with the propaganda of art. Throughout the Soviet period, except for the first decade, the art of all movements simply could not exist, except for Realism. Neither in Museums nor in education programs, or even at art schools. The artists-formalists suffered an unfounded accusation of charlatanism. This art was, and remains still, an art for few, though it is now observed with more interest. Paintings which survived the art catastrophe have lately appeared in museum expositions, were published in many books and albums. This is a fine start, but it is not enough. In order to understand art it is necessary to study it, much like learning to read.

The House of Matiushin museum in St.Petersburg (called also the St.Petersburg Museum of Avant-garde) has held an exhibition from December 20th 2010 till February 1st 2011 named "The Union of Youth" and "The new artists", for the occasion of 100 years to the founding of the Union of Youth movement. The works presented were the graphic art from the I.Yu. von Shtakelberg collection (the "New Artists" are a group of artists formed in the 1980s who declared themselves to be followers of the Union of Youth movement). See here a short video report (Russian) from the PiterTV website.

Exhibition "The Union of Youth" and the "New Artists", House of Matiushin museum, St.Petersburg, 2010-11.
Picture taken from the "New Artists" FB page.
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