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Picturing a World

Oleksandra Ekster

An article, Ukrainian Painters: The Modern, led me to Oleksandra Ekster, whose participation in the Modernist movement at the beginning of the 20th C is clear in her works. She either reflected or helped shape a number of avant-garde styles. A summary of her career, found at the National Art Museum of Ukraine in Kyiv, points out that she "educated a whole generation of the theatrical design innovators …who contributed to the development of Ukrainian theatre in the 1920s." And it is the theatricality of this Carnival in Venice that strikes me, both in the flatness of background buildings and the Commedia dell'arte costumes.

I can see the picture as a concept for a stage production, a mural on a theater wall, the cover of a program, or a painting hanging in a very chic Modernist apartment. It might also suggest a story involving a travelling company that finds itself in a strange—very strange—city. Ekster's own life and connections to painters like Picasso and Braque, moreover, might suggest a useful angle for imagining an historical novel about a woman painter in the international scene in Paris.
For more about her, click here. For more about her involvement with theater, click here.

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