Natalya Goncharova

Russian (1881 - 1962)
Natalya Goncharova Rabbi with Cat About 1912 © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2017.


Born 1881
Died 1962
Nationality Russian

Goncharova was born near Tula in Russia. While studying in Moscow, she met fellow artist Mikhail Larionov who became her lifelong companion and encouraged her to concentrate on painting instead of sculpture. As a prominent figure in the Russian avant garde movement, Goncharova was an exponent of the neo-primitivist style, which combined elements of contemporary French fauvist art with traditional Russian folk art. After settling permanently in Paris in 1917, Goncharova worked with Diaghilev's 'Ballets Russes', designing sets and costumes.

Glossary terms

  • Art in which there is no attempt to represent anything existing in the world, particularly used of the 20th century onwards. ‘Abstraction’ refers to the process of making images that may in part derive from the visible world but which are reduced to basic formal elements.

  • The term 'Avant-garde' refers to cultural practices that challenge tradition through experimentation and innovation.
  • A style that made an impact in the arts in the 1920s, particularly in Germany. Expressionists deliberately abandoned realistic representation techniques in favour of exaggerations and distortions of line and colour that were intended to carry far greater emotional impact.

  • The deliberate adoption by trained artist of the styles and techniques of those operating outside mainstream art practice.

  • A group of art works, by one or more artists, issued or housed together in a portfolio case. This often applies to photographs or prints, and portfolios often include a title page or introductory text. The term is also used to describe a group of works which exemplify an artist's work overall.

  • Russian avant-garde movement invented by the artists Mikhail Larionov and his partner Natalya Goncharova. Influenced by Cubism and Futurism, the style was characterised by dynamically intersecting lines or rays.