Destined for Greatness: Konstantin Yuon

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Saturday will mark the 51st anniversary of the death of Konstantin Yuon (1875-1958). Though the painter was "destined for greatness in the Russian Art World," he's not very well known outside his homeland. So today, "Feel Art Again" presents the basics on the artist behind "New Planet," shown above.

1. After receiving a traditional art education at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, Yuon travelled through Europe. During stays in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France, Yuon was influenced by the Impressionists' treatment of light and color. Camille Pissarro had a lasting influence on Yuon's work.

2. Yuon's painting "New Planet" is a depiction of the October Revolution (part of the Russian Revolution) as a "Cosmic Catastrophe."

3. Ranking number one on Yuon's list of favorite and important elements in his work was architecture for its "precision, contrasts, accuracy and constructivity." One of his favorite buildings was the Troitse-Sergeeva Lavra (Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius at Sergeev Posad), of which Yuon said, "Everything I could dream of, all my imagination could seize on was to be found there." For Yuon, the monastery was "an inexhaustibly rich source of decorative material for paintings." He completed more than 70 paintings of Trinity Monastery.

4. Although Trinity Monastery may have been Yuon's favorite building, "An Autumnal View From the Balcony" was his favorite of his own works. He loved the painting so much that he hung it in his living room, right above the couch. The painting was captured in posed family photographs. In June 2008, it sold for $227,500 at auction.

5. Yuon didn't limit himself just to canvases. He was the official set designer for the Maly Theatre from 1945 to 1947, but he also designed sets for plays at the Moscow Art Theatre and for operas. He even designed theatrical costumes.

6. Yuon's older brother Paul (whose last name is written "Juon") was a "notable composer." He composed sonatas, symphonies, a chamber symphony, string quartets, and piano pieces. Like Yuon, Paul also became involved with the theater, composing a number of stage works, including the opera "Aleko."

A larger version of "New Planet" is available here.

"Feel Art Again" appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can e-mail us at feelartagain@gmail.com with details of current exhibitions, for sources or further reading, or to suggest artists.

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