“Paris was a shock for me … Impressionists… in them I found everything I was scolded for back home in Moscow"
|Konstantin Korovin: "'Bazaar at the Pier in Arkhangelsk" (1896)|
Impressionism certainly was a worldwide phenomenon, in music, literature, and, of course, in visual art. When Pissarro, Manet and Degas began to paint their perception, capturing the changing qualities of light and shadow, often in the evening to reproduce the effets de soir and en plein air, out in the open, the world of art was about to change forever. Most academy-trained Russian artists were heavily influenced by the currents of Western European artists and Impressionism was no exception, even though the realism of the Peredvizhniki was the best known variant, Valentin Serov’s “Girl with Peaches” started Russian Impressionism in 1887 with its atmospheric saturation and harmony of reflections and other artists followed his example or began to develop their own approach simultaneously, usually wide-travelled men who were full of impressions of the works of other European artists as well as landscapes and scenes from Spain to Central Asia – like Konstantin Korovin.
|Konstantin Korovin: "Café de la Paix" (1906)|
Born into a wealthy merchant family with a bit of an artistic background – his older brother Sergey and his cousin Illarion Pryanishnikov were both notable realist painters – he received the foundations of a classical Russian art education at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg and left the place, like many Peredvizhniki, because he couldn’t agree with the prevalent teaching style. Both future impressionists, Serov and Korovin began to travel, to the north of Russia and Scandinavia, painted what they saw in silver tones and developed their own particular style. Korovin visited Paris for the first time when he was 24 and the place left him with a lasting impression. He would return often during his life to finally live there, like so many other Russians after the Revolution in 1823.
|Konstantin Korovin: "Arch of Saint Denis" (1930)|
Korovin’s works were exhibited in almost all major exhibitions showing works of Russian artists and for a while he became a teacher himself on Moscow’s Art Academy, worked quite successfully as stage and costume designer for various productions and became a camouflage consultant for the Russian Army during the war, a rather uncommon application of an impressionistic artist’s perception of the blending of colours, light and shadows. When the revolution began to devour its own children, Korovin left Russia for good, he had featured quite prominently in the preservation of works of art during the early 1920s and his views were probably seen as a tad too bourgeois for the new regime. When his paintings were stolen upon his arrival in Paris, he had to paint rather conservative Russian clichés to make ends meet, but continued to be productive as a late and post-Impressionist until the end of his life in 1939 as one of the foremost European artists of the 19th and 20th century.
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