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Inside the Gift of Work: the poet Marina Tsvetaeva and the artist Natalia Goncharova

To coincide with the Tate’s new exhibition of Natalia Goncharova’s paintings, Pushkin House presents a talk by University of Sheffield academic Adam Fergus on Marina Tsvetaeva’s commentary on Goncharova’s paintings, and the interactions and connections between these two monumental figures of the avant-garde.

Inside the Gift of Work: the poet Marina Tsvetaeva and the artist Natal’ya Goncharova

The poet Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) and the painter and stage designer Natal’ya Goncharova (1881-1962) were among the most innovative and vibrant artists of their generation. Enchanted by the coincidence of Goncharova’s name with that of Pushkin’s wife, Tsvetaeva asked to be introduced to her: their conversations formed the basis for her essay ‘Natal’ya Goncharova’ (1929). Using this essay as a focus, this talk will explore how Tsvetaeva describes Goncharova’s process of artistic creation, examining in particular how she translates visual perception into prose of remarkable economy and rigour. The ways in which subjective memory and inner experience are valued over the external facts of Goncharova’s biography will also be discussed to situate the both women in the inter-war Russian emigration. In spite of their differences of medium and in temperament, this talk will show how the radicalism and immediacy of Tsvetaeva’s essay pays full tribute to Goncharova’s achievements and stature as an artist.

Adam Fergus is University Tutor in Russian at the University of Sheffield.