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Aleksandra Ekster

Александра Экстер (Григорович)

Aleksandra Ekster

Александра Экстер (Григорович)

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Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Ekster (Russian: Александра Александровна Экстер, Ukrainian: Олександра Олександрівна Екстер; 18 January 1882 – 17 March 1949), also known as Alexandra Exter, was a Russian painter (Cubo-Futurist, Suprematist, Constructivist) and designer of international stature who divided her life between Kiev, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Vienna, and Paris.

She was born Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Grigorovich in Białystok, in the Grodno Governorate of the Russian Empire (now Poland) to a wealthy Belarusian family. Her father, Aleksandr Grigorovich, was a wealthy Belarusian businessman. Her mother was Greek. Young Aleksandra received an excellent private education, studying languages, music, art, and taking private drawing lessons. Soon her parents moved to Kyiv (Kiev), and Asya, as called by her friends, attended Kiev gymnasium St. Olga and Kiev Art School, where she studied with Alexander Bogomazov and Alexander Archipenko. Her teachers included Mykola Pymonenko. Aleksandra graduated in painting from Kiev Art School in 1906.

In 1908, Aleksandra Grigorovich married a successful Kiev lawyer, Nikolai Evgenyevich Ekster. The Eksters belonged to cultural and intellectual elite of Kiev. She spent several months with her husband in Paris, and there she attended Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Montparnasse. From 1908 to 1924 she intermittently lived in Kiev, St. Petersburg, Odessa, Paris, Rome and Moscow.

Her painting studio in the attic at 27 Funduklievskaya Street, now Khmelnytsky Street, was a rallying stage for Kiev's intellectual elite.In the attic in her studio there worked future luminaries of world decorative art Vadim Meller, Anatole Petrytsky and P.Tchelitchew . There she was visited by poets and writers, such as Anna Akhmatova, Ilia Ehrenburg, and Osip Mandelstam, dancers Bronislava Nijinska and Elsa Kruger, as well as many artists Alexander Bogomazov, Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine, and students, such as Grigori Kozintsev, Sergei Yutkevich, and Aleksei Kapler among many others. In 1908 she participated in an exhibition together with members of the group Zveno (Link) organized by David Burliuk, Wladimir Burliuk and others in Kiev.

In Paris, Aleksandra Ekster was a personal friend of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who introduced her to Gertrude Stein.

She exhibited six works at the Salon de la Section d'Or, Galerie La Boétie, Paris, October 1912, with Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Marcel Duchamp and others.

In 1914, Ekster participated in the Salon des Indépendants exhibitions in Paris, together with Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Archipenko, Vadym Meller, Sonia Delaunay-Terk and other French and Russian artists. In that same year she participated with the “Russians” Archipenko, Koulbine and Rozanova in the International Futurist Exhibition in Rome. In 1915 she joined the group of avant-garde artists Supremus. Her friend introduced her to the poet Apollinaire, who took her to Picasso's workshop. According to Moscow Chamber Theatre actress Alice Coonen, "In [Ekster's] Parisian household there was a conspicuous peculiar combination of European culture with Ukrainian life. On the walls between Picasso and Braque paintings there was Ukrainian embroidery; on the floor was a Ukrainian carpet, at the table they served clay pots, colorful majolica plates of dumplings."

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