1881, Mikhailovskaya (Don Region) - 1944, Abramtsevo (outside Moscow)

Self-Portrait and Portrait of Pyotr Konchalovsky


  • oil on canvas. 208 x 270
  • Ж-11323

  • Received in 1986 from S. A. Shuster, Leningrad

This picture was painted specially for the Jack of Diamonds exhibition in 1910. It was compared to a signboard containing everything one could possibly say about the Jack of Diamonds movement. It is a declaration of the cult of physical health and strength, the elevation of the soul and cultural values. Play and Passion in Russian Fine Art. St-Petersburg. 1999. P. 319.

This work belongs to the early period of the history of the Russian avant-garde. It was unveiled at the Jack of Diamonds exhibition organised by a group of young artists led by Mikhail Larionov in the winter of 1910/11. Ilya Mashkov was one of the rebel artists who hoped to “rejuvenate” art with the help of phenomena previously excluded from the realms of high art – naïve and motley signboards, trays, wooden and plasticine toys and the aesthetics of fairground shows. This unusual picture, with its enormous dimensions and hypertrophied forms united by a dark contour, depicts two naked strongmen playing music surrounded by weights, dumb-bells and books – the Bible and monographs on Giotto and Cézanne (the idols of the young artists). Mashkov’s portrait was perceived as a manifesto of a new movement in art, intending to make viewers pause, look and think.

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