Natalia Goncharova ( Russian, 1881 - 1962 )
The lively Maquillage is a tangible example of the artistic forces surrounding the origins of the Russian avant-garde and its technical innovations. Fragmented volumes represent cubism; deeply saturated yellow, red, and black are evidence of fauvism's influence; and the violent intersections of arcs and rays point to Italian futurism. But Maquillage is no simple hybrid; it is a pictorial bridge, linking those artistic trends to a new expression of Russian artistic culture, rayism.
Established in 1912 by Goncharova's lifelong companion, Mikhail Larionov, rayism focused its artistic eye on the rays of color and light that emanate from an object. By manipulating the intersection of these rays in space, the artist created new forms and planes. Maquillage beautifully illustrates this novel concept. The seemingly banal subject of a woman making up her face, barely discernible at the center of the work, has greater impact amid the explosion of color and line. Her visage appears and disappears among needle-sharp rays, which shatter both its figurative integrity and the pictorial space that surrounds it. Red, yellow, and black heighten the intensity of the new forms created by various combinations of line. Through this novel use of color and line, Goncharova invents a fourth dimension punctuated by energetic dynamism and violent movement. Yet its technical value serves to make it a work of significant historical importance. In Russia, rayism was the first step toward completely nonobjective art. This work represents the Russian avant-garde's distinctive contribution toward the revolutionary evolution of total abstraction.
Kristin Helmick-Brunet, "Maquillage," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection,_ _ed. Suzanne Kotz (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 1997), 124.