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Korovin Konstantin Alexeevich
November 23, 1861 (Moscow) — September 11, 1939 (Paris)  Painter, graphic artist, scene-designer, architect, master of decorative and applied arts  Korovin was born to a family of merchants Old Believers; his paternal grandfather had a coachman cab, maternal grandfather was tea merchant. His parents were fond of art; painters I. M. Pryanishnikov and L. L. Kamenev frequented Korovin’s house.  In 1875 Konstantin Korovin entered Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture (MUZhVZ); his elder brother Sergey studied there, later he became famous painter. At first Korovin studied at the faculty of architecture; in 1876 he changed the faculty and began to study painting. Korovin studied under the guidance of E. S. Sorokin, V. G. Perov, A. K. Savrasov, I. M. Pryanishnikov. In 1881 he entered the Imperial Academy of Arts (IAKh) in St. Petersburg, but one year later Korovin was disappointed with outdated teaching methods. He returned to Moscow and continued his studies at MUZhVZ in the workshop of V. D. Polenov. In 1883 Korovin was awarded small silver medal for pictorial sketch, in 1883–1884 he was granted the V. A. Dolgoruky scholarship for drawing. In 1886 Korovin graduated from Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture.  In 1880 Korovin attended Polenov’s drawing evenings. V. D. Polenov got Korovin acquainted with S. I. Mamontov. Korovin joined Abramtsevo circle. Since 1884 he often visited Mamontov’s estate near Moscow, worked in the pottery and carpentry workshops. Korovin drew sketches of furniture, created ornamental friezes Boats, Swans, chimneypieces Sadko, Mermaids and others. Since 1885 Korovin designed many performances at the Mamontov Russian private Opera in Moscow, in particular Aida by G. Verdi, Carmen by J. Bizet (1885), Prince Igor by A. P. Borodin, The Maid of Pskov by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov (1897), Khovanshchina by M. P. Mussorgsky, Sadko by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, Judith by A. N. Serov and many others. Korovin participated as an actor and as a set designer in domestic performances of the Abramtsevo circle. From mid 1880 till 1890 Korovin headed art workshop at the Stroganov School of Industrial Art.  In 1888–1889 Korovin traveled together with S. I. Mamontov to Spain and France. In 1889 he visited Tiflis, Mariupol, and Kostroma. Since 1888 Korovin exposed his works at the exhibitions of Moscow Society of Art Lovers; since 1889 he took part in the exhibitions of the Society of Travelling Art Exhibitions (TPKhV). In 1892–1894 Korovin lived in Paris.  In 1894 on the initiative of Mamontov, Korovin with V. A. Serov made a trip to the North: in Yaroslavl, Vologda, Arkhangelsk, on the rivers the Northern Dvina, Sukhona, White and Norwegian seas. Due to the sketches made during the trip, Korovin painted a series of pictures for the pavilion The Extreme North at the All-Russia industrial and agricultural exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod in 1896.  In 1898 Korovin designed the cover of the first issue of the magazine Mir Iskusstva (“World of Art”). In the same year he exposed his works at Vienna Secession. Since 1899 Korovin participated in the exhibitions of the group Mir Iskusstva (“World of Art”); since 1900 he was a member of this society. In 1899 Korovin traveled to Central Asia and to the North. In 1898–1900 Korovin designed the Russian department at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. He also headed art section of the Russian department. Korovin made a project of the Handicraft pavilion; he together with A. Y. Golovin, E. D. Polenova and M. F. Yakunchikova designed its interiors, and the interior of the pavilion The Outskirts of Russia. He was awarded two gold and nine small silver medals for his works (in painting and applied arts). Korovin was also awarded the Legion of Honour and the St. Stanislav Order of the 3rd degree for outstanding service in organization of the exhibition.  At late 1890s — 1910s Korovin often worked at his own dachas in Okhtino in Vladimir province and in Gurzuf in the Crimea. In 1900s–1910s Korovin visited France almost every year.  Since 1900 Korovin worked at the Imperial theatres in Moscow and in St. Petersburg. In 1903 he was appointed artist and librarian of Moscow office at the Imperial theatres; in 1909–1910 he worked as a chief stage designer and artist adviser of the Imperial theatres in Moscow. Korovin designed over a hundred performances, including the operas Rusalka (“Mermaid”) by A. S. Dargomyzhsky (1900); Demon by A. G. Rubinstein (1902); Aleko by S. V. Rakhmaninov (1903); A Life for the Tsar, Ruslan and Ludmila by M. I. Glinka (1904); Sadko, The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, The Golden Cockerel by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov (1906–1909); The Twilight of the Gods by R. Wagner (1911); the ballets Don Quixote by L. Minkus (1901); The Humpbacked Horse by C. Puni (1903) and many others.  In 1901 Serov proposed Korovin to head class of genre portrait at Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture (MUZhVZ). In 1903 Korovin became one of the members and founders of the Union of Russian Artists (SRKh), participated in all exhibitions of this Union until 1923. In 1905 Korovin’s works were exposed at the portrait exhibition in the Tauride Palace in St. Petersburg; in 1906–1907 — at the exhibition of Russian art organized by S. Dyagilev in Paris and Berlin. In 1905 Korovin was elected academician.  After the revolutionary events of 1917, Korovin continued to participate in social and artistic life. He was a member of the Special council of the Arts, of Moscow Soviet of artist’s organization, the Theatre Artists College, the Department of Plastic arts of the National commissariat of education (Narkompros). Korovin took part in reorganization of Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture (MUZhVZ) and the Stroganov School of Industrial Art to the Free Art Workshops. Korovin lectured at the Second State Free Art Workshops.  In 1919 the first personal exhibition of Korovin’s works was held in Paris. In 1920–1921 Korovin lived in Udomlya, Tver province. In 1921–1922 the Main political and public education Committee (Glavpolitprosvet) organized the personal exhibitions of the painter in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.  In the same year Korovin with his wife and son left for France and lived in Paris. In 1922 Korovin’s works were exposed at the First Russian art exhibition in the Van Diemen Gallery in Berlin. Retrospective exhibitions of Korovin paintings were held in the Van Diemen Gallery in 1922 and in the Karl Nicolay Gallery in 1923. In 1925 and in 1929 personal exhibition of Korovin’s works were organized in Paris galleries Bernheim and Colbert.  In emigration Korovin worked a lot for theatres, the M. N. Kuznetsova Russian Opera in Paris. He designed the ballet Don Quixote for performances of Anna Pavlova’s troupe in London theatre Covent Garden (1925), the opera The Golden Cockerel by N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov for Opera theatre in Turin (1925), The Barber of Seville by V. A. Mozart for performances of F. U. Shalyapin in England and in the USA (1926). Korovin painted landscapes of evening Paris, still lifes; he also painted fantasy on Russian themes. But easel painting of Korovin did not win recognition in France, and spent last years of his life poorly.  In 1930s Korovin wrote his memoirs My Life, Memoirs about contemporaries, Essay about travel (were published in the books Konstantin Korovin: Life. Creative works. Letters. Documents. Memoirs Moscow 1963 and Konstantin Korovin remembers … Moscow 1971 and reprint in 1990).  Konstantin Korovin was buried at the cemetery Billancourt.  Retrospective exhibitions of the artist were held in 1961 in Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev in the exhibition halls of the USSR Academy of Arts (dedicated to the 100th anniversary of artist’s birth), in 1986–1987 — at the State Russian Museum in Leningrad.  Korovin was an outstanding Russian artist of the end of the 19th — the beginning of the 20th century, who was engaged in many forms of art: architecture, theatre, painting, decorative and applied arts. His projects of exhibition pavilions had a big influence on the development of Art Nouveau in Russian architecture. Korovin was one of the best scene-designers of his time. However, he made a valuable contribution to the history of Russian painting.  Already in his early works of early 1880s (e. g. Portrait of a chorus girl), Korovin developed his own style of painting, which was characterized by free improvisation, dynamical strokes of the paint brush, brightness and richness of colors. He was the first of all Russian artists who discovered impressionist painters. The painting Portrait of a chorus girl was painted five years before V. A. Serov’s paintings Girl with Peaches and Girl in  Sunlight.  In Korovin’s paintings of French period there were garish contrasting color combinations, which were not characteristic for his early works. When considering late works of the artist, it was necessary to take into account that Korovin often signed paintings of his son Alexey in order to help his career. That is why it was difficult to authenticate Korovin’s works of 1920s–1930s.  Works by Konstantin Korovin are in many Russian museums, including the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, A. A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum and in private collections.
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