World of Art (Mir iskusstva in Russian) was an artistic movement inspired (and embodied) by an art magazine which served as its manifesto de facto, which was a major influence on the Russians who helped revolutionize European art during the first decade of the 20th century. Few Westerner/Europeans actually saw issues of the magazine itself and so the movement itself is somewhat of a mystery is Westerners and Europeans.
The artistic group was founded in 1898 by a group of students that included Alexandre Benois, Konstantin Somov, Dmitry Filosofov, Léon Bakst, Eugene Lansere.
The first public showing of the group was at the Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Artists in the Stieglitz Museum of Applied Arts in Saint-Petersburg.
In 1899 they founded the magazine in St. Petersburg by Alexandre Benois, Léon Bakst, and Sergei Diaghilev (the Chief Editor). They aimed at assailing low artistic standards of the obsolescent Peredvizhniki school and promoting artistic individualism and other principles of Art Nouveau. The theoretical declarations of the art movements were stated in the Dyagilev's articles "Difficult Questions", "Our Imaginary Degradation", "Permanent Struggle", "In search of the Beauty", "The fundamentals of the artistic appreciation" published in the N1/2 and N3/4 of the new journal.
The most active members of the World of Art were Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Eugene Lansere, and Konstantin Somov. Exhibitions organized by the World of Art attracted many illustrious painters from Russia and abroad, notably Mikhail Vrubel, Mikhail Nesterov, and Isaac Levitan.
The group went through an initial exhibition phase (modelled off the first impressionist exhibitions) from 1898 to 1904 during which time they organized six exhibitions: 1899 (International), 1900, 1901 (At the Imperial Academy of Arts, Saint Petersburg), 1902 (Moscow and Saint Petersburg), 1903, 1906 (Saint Petersburg). The sixth exhibition was seen as a Dyagilev's attempt to prevent the separation from the Moscow mebers of the group who organized a separate "Exhibition of 36 artists" (1901) and later "The Union of Russian Artists" group (from 1903).
In 1909, many of the members of the World of Art movement also contributed to the Ballets Russes Company operating in Paris.
In 1904-1910, Mir Iskusstva as a separate artistic group did not exist. Its place was inherited by the Union of Russian Artists which continued officially until 1910 and unofficially until 1924. The Union included painters (Valentin Serov, Konstantin Korovin, Boris Kustodiev, Zinaida Serebriakova), illustrators (Ivan Bilibin, Konstantin Somov), restorators (Igor Grabar), and scenic designers (Nicholas Roerich, Serge Sudeikin).
In 1910 Benois published a critical article in the magazine "Rech'" about the Union of Russian Artists. Mir Iskusstva was recreated. The new chairmen became Nicholas Roerich. The group took new members including Nathan Altman, Vladimir Tatlin, Martiros Saryan. Some said that the inclusion of the Russian avant-garde painters demonstrated that the group became an exhibition organization rather than an art movement. In 1917 the chairmen of the group became Ivan Bilibin. The same year most members of Jack of Diamonds enter the group.
The group organazied numerous exhibitions: 1911, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1921, 1922 Saint-Petersburg, Moscow). The last exhibition of Mir Iskusstva was organized in Paris in 1927. Some members of the group entered the Zhar-Tsvet (Moscow, organized in 1924) and Four Arts (Moscow-Leningrad organized in 1925) artistic movements.
Like the English pre-Raphaelites before them, Benois and his friends were disgusted with anti-aesthetic nature of modern industrial society and sought to consolidate all Neo-Romantic Russian artists under the auspices of fighting Positivism in art.
Like the Romantics before them, the World of Art group promoted understanding and conservation of the art of previous epochs, particularly traditional folk art and the 18th-century rococo. Antoine Watteau was probably the single artist whom they admired the most. ...
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