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The Organic School By Wünsche , Isabel

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM191-1
Published: 09/05/2016
Retrieved: 22 June 2024, from


The Organic School of the Russian avant-garde was a group of artists primarily based in St Petersburg. Less concerned with the urban, ideological, and utilitarian aspects of modernist art, they instead focused on holistic approaches to art and life. The group included Elena Guro, Nikolai Kulbin, Mikhail Matiushin and his students, Pavel Filonov and his followers, as well as Pavel Mansurov, Petr Miturich, and Vladimir Tatlin. The artists of the Organic School saw nature as a never-ending source for artistic creation. They viewed artistic activity not as passive imitation of nature, but as an active expression of the relationship between the artist and the natural environment, and called for a new, absolute art that did not copy nature, but was instead based on its universal laws and organic principles. Taking as their model the developmental processes, natural forces, and organic forms found in nature, their aesthetics were informed by pantheist, neo-vitalist, and monist ideas combined with evolutionary thought and scientific knowledge from the fields of physics, biology, physiology, and psychology. Discussing the materials and processes involved in the creation of art and analyzing the elementary building blocks of painting, these artists not only explored the properties of color and form and their psychophysiological effects upon the viewer, but also focused on faktura [texture], which they considered to be a fundamental principle of the creative process. Emphasizing human creativity and the psychological dimension of art, the artists of the Organic School of the Russian avant-garde viewed art as a means toward individual self-realization, thus leading to the unification of art and life, body and soul, humanity and nature.

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Wünsche, Isabel. The Organic School . Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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