ALEKSANDRA ALEKSANDROVNA EKSTER: THE PIONEER OF CONSTRUCTIVISM IN RUSSIA
Absorbing the elements of Futurism, Cubism and Constructivism, the Russian artist Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Ekster was one of the most experimental woman of the Russian avant-garde. A painter of indubitable originality and exceptional creativity, Ekster was born on January 6, 1882, in Bialystok, Grodno Governorate. The Russian artist of international stature, Ekster graduated in painting from Kiev Art School in 1906. After marrying a Kiev lawyer, Nikolai Evgenyevich Ekster, she spent several months in Paris and attended Académie de la Grande Chaumiére in Montparnasse.
A co-founder of the Art Deco, Aleksandra Ekster was a personal friend of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who introduced her to Gertrude Stein. In 1914, Ekster participated in the Salon des Indépendants exhibitions in Paris, together with Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Archipenko, Vadym Meller, Sonia Delaunay-Trek and other French and Russian artists.
In 1915, she joined the group of avant-garde artists “Supremus”. In 1924, she emigrated with her husband to France and settled in Paris. Initially Ekster became a professor at the Académie der Moderne in Paris. From 1926 to 1930 she was a professor at Fernand Léger's Académie d’Art Contemporain.
In 1933 Ekster began creating extremely beautiful and original illuminated manuscripts (gouache on paper), which are the most important works of the last phase of her life. The “Callimaque” manuscript (c.1939, the text being a French translation of a hymn by Hellenistic poet Callimachus) is widely regarded as her masterpiece.
In 1936, Ekster participated in the exhibition ‘Cubism and Abstract Art' in New York and went on to have solo exhibitions in Prague and in Paris. Parallel to her success in painting came success in stage design. Her set designs for the play as Oscar Wilde’s Salomé (1917) became classic.
Ekster was a book illustrator for the publishing company Flammarion in Paris from 1936 until her death on March 17, 1949, in the Paris suburb of Fontenay-aux-Roses.