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An elegant man

Ilya Mashkov

Mantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

Mantova Museo Urbano Diffuso

Mashkov is one of the exponents of the first phase of Russian avant-garde, gathering under the name of Jack of Diamonds, which was a group of young artists who wanted to radically update pictorial conception in their great nation, inspired by the teachings of Van Gogh and Cézanne,and then further revising and developing themselves through contact with the avant-gardes who were meanwhile developing in France. In this work, the reference to the association we have just mentioned is evident, since the two lamps that give light to the room in which the character is shown are stylized to such an extent that they become two yellow paintings. Mashkov later had an important career, which led him to produce paintings of representational scope, which for their expressiveness and for their intense colors rivalled the most interesting creations of various contemporary European schools. His distinctive style is very effective in describing the elegant man who sits in front of us, a real jack. The reference to the later portraits of Van Gogh is obvious; moreover, this graceful man, dressed in gray which contrasts with the bright red background, represents the segment of bourgeoisie or enlightened nobility that was the core of the artistic innovations of a land traversed by the Revolution in that year.

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