Misticheskie Obrazy Voinymystical. 14 litografii (Mystical Images of War. 14 Lithographs)
Folio. Title, list of plates and 14 full-page lithographs by Goncharova. Original publisher's yellow printed paper portfolio with vignette image by Goncharova on upper wrapper. One of the so-called "Amazons of the avant-garde," Russian artist Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962) combined folk art traditions, traditional religious imagery, and modernist abstraction in her pioneering artwork. Her early twentieth-century easel paintings and theatrical designs for the Ballets Russes promoted traditional Russian culture and a modern national pictorial style. This inspired the Neo-Primitivist movement spearheaded by Goncharova and her partner, Mikhail Larionov. Her album of prints, The Mystical Images of War represents one of the first visual responses to the outbreak of the First World War in epic, religious, and apocalyptic terms. Following avant-garde artistic traditions, these are simple, direct images that invite viewer participation and response. "Goncharova, in her epic treatment of war, combined innovation with traditional forms, particularly icons and lubki. However, her series has nothing in common with a pseudo-folk style or with the propaganda spirit of posters or postcards. In her Mystical Images, a sense of ritual performance dominates the cycle. Goncharova creates her own mythology of war, combining the revived heraldry of the Russian coat of arms ("The White Eagle"), symbols of Britain and France ("The British Lion" and "The French Cock"), apocalyptic images ("The Doomed City" and "The Pale Horse"), and recognizable details of present-day military uniforms, factory smokestacks, and aeroplanes. A keen awareness of history emerges through visual allusions and allegories. Goncharova chose for her series a dramatic contrast of black and white, but also hand-coloured four copies." (Taken from Gourianova's essay The Theme of War, page 94 in Rowell & Wye, The Russian Avant-Garde Book).
Rowell & Wye 73; illus. pp. 95-97