Mir iskusstva 1898 –

Mir iskusstva (Russian: «Мир иску́сства», World of Art) was a Russian magazine and the artistic movement it inspired and embodied, which was a major influence on the Russians who helped revolutionize European art during the first decade of the 20th century In fact, few Europeans outside Russia actually saw issues of the magazine itself

From 1909, several of the miriskusniki (ie, members of the movement) also participated in productions of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes company based in Paris

The artistic group was founded in November 1898 by a group of students that included Alexandre Benois, Konstantin Somov, Dmitry Filosofov, Léon Bakst, and Eugene Lansere The starting moments for the new artistic group was organization of the Exhibition of Russian and Finnish Artists in the Stieglitz Museum of Applied Arts in Saint-Petersburg

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In its “classical period” (1898-1904) the art group organized six exhibitions: 1899 (International), 1900, 1901 (At the Imperial Academy of Arts, Saint Petersburg), 1902 (Moscow and Saint Petersburg), 1903, 1906 (Saint Petersburg) The sixth exhibition was seen as a Diaghilev’s attempt to prevent the separation from the Moscow members of the group who organized a separate “Exhibition of 36 artists” (1901) and later “The Union of Russian Artists” group

Like the English pre-Raphaelites before them, Benois and his friends were disgusted with anti-aesthetic nature of modern industrial society and sought to consolidate all Neo-Romantic Russian artists under the banner of fighting Positivism in art

Like the Romantics before them, the miriskusniki promoted understanding and conservation of the art of previous epochs, particularly traditional folk art and the 18th-century rococo Antoine Watteau was probably the single artist whom they admired the most

Such Revivalist projects were treated by the miriskusniki humorously, in a spirit of self-parody They were fascinated with masks and marionettes, with carnaval and puppet theater, with dreams and fairy-tales Everything grotesque and playful appealed to them more than the serious and emotional Their favorite city was Venice, so much so that Diaghilev and Stravinsky selected it as the place of their burial

As for media, the miriskusniki preferred the light, airy effects of watercolor and gouache to full-scale oil paintings Seeking to bring art into every house, they often designed interiors and books Bakst and Benois revolutionized theatrical design with their ground-breaking decor for Cléopâtre (1909), Carnaval (1910), Petrushka (1911), and L’après-midi d’un faune (1912) Apart from three founding fathers, active members of the World of Art included Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Eugene Lansere, and Konstantin Somov Exhibitions organized by the World of Art attracted many illustrious painters from Russia and abroad, notably Mikhail Vrubel, Mikhail Nesterov, and Isaac Levitan