Artists & Designers

Olga Vladimirovna Rozanova (Russian, 1888–1918)

Born in 1886 in a little town outside of Vladimir in Russia, Olga Vladimirovna Rozanova moved to Moscow in 1904 to attend the Bol’shakov Art School, train with Konstanin Yuon, and audit classes at Stroganov School of Applied Art. Rozanova was highly influenced by the burgeoning art movements developing with the Moscow school of painters, where the spread of French Impressionism (particularly the works of Paul Cézanne) was transforming its pre-existing dedication to color and attention to decorativeness.

Rozanova moved to St. Petersburg in 1911 and became highly involved in the Russian avant-garde art group, Union of Youth, which held exhibitions and encouraged various artistic movements. She was also associated with the Left Federation of the Professional Union of Artist-Painters as well as the Jack of Diamonds group, founded by Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Robert Falk, Petr Konchalovsky, Alexander Kuprin, and Ilya Mashkov. Participation in such groups familiarized Rozanova with various avant-garde artistic movements, such as Neo-Primitivism and Cubo-Futurism. She became one of the original Russian artists to identify with Futurism through her experimentations with emotion and color.

Rozanova first met the avant-garde poet Alexei Kruchenykh in 1912 through the Union of Youth. They had an unpredictable and passionate romantic and working relationship, publishing several Cubo-Futurist books together featuring Krechenykh’s poetry, Rozanova’s illustrations, and their collaborations with other artists and poets. Often printed haphazardly on cheap grey paper with stamped text and lithographic illustrations, the small books were typically given freely to other artists or exchanged for artwork. Their productions had a profoundly transformative influence on the art of the Russian book. Rozanova also published her own written work in 1917, which outlined her artistic style and theory called “color painting” (referring to the effects and feelings of color—characteristics explored in both her paintings and her printed illustrations). In the last years of her life, Rozanova became an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and joined several service-oriented groups to encourage art education and growth in communities. Though Rozanova died from an infection in 1918 at just thirty-two years old, her radical and performative artistic experimentation and collaborations with other well-known Cubo-Futurist artists put her at the forefront of Russian avant-garde design.

Excerpt from

Kelsey Martin and Nicole Myers, DMA exhibition text Women Artists in Europe from the Monarchy to Modernism, 2018.