Moscow

7:00 AM

Aristarkh Lentulov, Moscow, 1913
By SAI GONDI

The rapid industrialization of humanity during the late 19th and early 20th centuries generated major cities and promoted new ways of life. Along with this urbanization art also took new forms. Painters began representing this sudden change in society in works, such as the one shown above. Moscow. by Aristarkh Lentulov, provides a Cubist representation of prospering urban cities. Firstly, Lentulov, a Russian native, produced numerous colorful and abstract works depicting buildings and structures. He seemed to have focused on famous architectural marvels such as Saint Basil's Cathedral. He added a modern, Cubist twist to his seemingly urban subject matter.

In Moscow, Lentulov crowded the canvas with various structures, inhabitants and colors to intentionally overwhelm the viewer. This symbolizes the urban sprawl of industrial cities. Immigrants and citizens flocked to these thriving industrial centers in search of wages and work. Along with that, cities expanded and grew. Lentulov demonstrates this in Moscow with a hodgepodge of buildings and people scattered to the very edge marked by the grim purple and red sky. Writer Richard Brettell argues art like this came into being due to the mass modernization of cities. Artists, similar to Lentulov, captured this change with distinct paintings. Some artists criticized this industrialization, while others praised it through glorifying works. Moscow's vibrant, radiating colors might hint towards a optimistic view about modernization, however the depiction of crowded, overfilled cities could serve as criticism.

What do you think? As my classmate Melisa puts it, is it a "hater or motivator?" I personally think it provides a glorification of Moscow in times of societal change. Lentulov uses piercing reds, blues, and yellows to add vibrancy and life to the work. That might parallel an enjoyable aspect to the clustered, modernized city. He could also be critiquing the crowdedness of the city in the way the overwhelming buildings swallow the minuscule inhabitants below. Image a freshman walking down the senior hallway in the morning - busy and intimidating, Moscow offers an abstract example of urban cities growing and changing in the wake of the 20th century similar to art as Brettell proclaims. 

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