Scientific Art Analysis of Works by Goncharova and Larionov from the Collection of Museum Ludwig

This year the Russian Avant-Garde Research Project (RARP) is delighted to support a project with the leading scientific art analysis firm, Art Analysis and Research, London and New York in co-operation with the Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Art Analysis will undertake an investigation of the museum’s holdings of 14 paintings by Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, in order to establish a body of detailed references for their technical practice. 

Details of the Project

As members of many artists’ groups, both in Russia and in Europe – including the famous Jack of Diamonds, The Moscow Futurists, The Blue Rider (German) – Goncharova and Larionov were highly influential.  The couple moved to Paris from Russia in 1921, where they settled for the remainder of their lives. Just as their influence spanned both Russia and Europe, the information that will be collected as the result of this project on their materials and techniques will have wide ranging implications both for the study of their own art, and for the art of their contemporaries. The technical imaging of their work is also highly anticipated; while more traditional techniques such as X-rays and Infrareds have been widely used on Old Master paintings, the ability to reveal underdrawings and preparatory stages have rarely been systematically exploited in the examination of more recent paintings. Equally, cutting edge technologies will also be utilized such as hyperspectral imaging (which provides a wide energy band method of scanning below a paintings’ surface) and 3D surface modelling to study impasto and brushwork.

Utilising state-of-the-art technology, an unprecedented database, proprietary data analytics and a multi-disciplinary team steeped in technical art history, Art Analysis and Research is the leading provider of scientific art analysis to the fine art market world-wide, serving a market that experiences high levels of uncertainty due to both the complex nature of authentication, and the incursions of increasingly sophisticated forgers. We are delighted to award the grant to these experts.

Museum Ludwig owns one of the largest holdings in Russian avant-garde art outside of Russia, and, since 2011, has been actively researching these holdings in light of authenticity issues. Their participation and enthusiasm for the research on works of the Russian avant-garde in general, and Goncharova and Larionov in particular, will provide an excellent basis for encouraging other institutions to allow research access to comparable works of art.

It is hoped that this study will be the first of a series of such co-operations, with the longer-term goal of establishing a large body of information on the artists’ technical practice.  This investigation will address two key objectives: firstly, it will greatly assist in defining, understanding and protecting their artistic legacy and secondly, it will allow better detection of forgeries of their work.

Project Team

Art Analysis & Research: Dr Jilleen Nadolny and Dr Nicholas Eastaugh are internationally recognised experts within the field of art analysis. Both are qualified paintings conservators, and hold PhDs in technical art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Bhavini Vaghji, Head of Laboratory at Art Analysis & Research, holds a BSC in chemistry from University College, London and an MA in forensic science from King’s College, London. Art Analysis & Research is actively involved in the study of Russian avant-garde art.

Museum Ludwig: Petra Mandt, M.A., has held the position of conservator of paintings at the Museum Ludwig since 2000. She has extensive experience in the study of Russian avant-garde art, having published in particular on the work of Malevich. In 2011 she initiated an ongoing project (with Dr Maria Kokkori) to analyse Russian avant-garde paintings of questionable provenance in the collection.

Project Coordinator: Verena Franken holds a MA in conservation from the Cologne University of Applied Sciences. She has collaborated with the Museum Ludwig on a project of similar scope to this proposal: a study of the late works of Otto Freundlich. Parts of her research will be published in a forthcoming exhibition catalogue.

About Art Analysis & Research

Art Analysis & Research is the leading provider of scientific art analysis to the fine art market world-wide, serving a market that experiences high levels of uncertainty due to both the complex nature of authentication, and the incursions of increasingly sophisticated forgers. Art Analysis provides a full range of technical services for art analysis, contextualizing its findings with the expertise of a team specialized in historical art technology based in London and New York City.

List of Paintings from Museum Ludwig

  Artist Date / title / size
1 Natalia Goncharova 1905 / Landschaft von Tiraspol (Landscape of Tiraspol) / Canvas, 70 x 88.5 cm
2 Natalia Goncharova 1908 / Rusalka (Wassernymphe) (Rusalka – Water Nymphe) / Canvas, 104 x 74 cm
3 Natalia Goncharova 1908 / Stilleben mit Tigerfell (Still Life with Tiger Skin) / Canvas, 140 x 136.5 cm
4 Natalia Goncharova 1912 / Die jüdische Familie (The Jewish Family) / Canvas, 164 x 131 cm
5 Natalia Goncharova 1916 / Orangenverkäuferin (Orange Seller) / Canvas, 131 x 97 cm
6 Natalia Goncharova 1913 / Porträt von Larionow (Portrait of Larionov) / Canvas, 105 x 78 cm
7 Michail Larionov c. 1906 / Stilleben mit Kaffeekanne (Still Life with Coffee Pot) / Canvas, 81.5 x 45.2
8 Michail Larionov c. 1907-1912 / Stilleben (Still Life) / Canvas, 46 x 81 cm
9 Michail Larionov 1907 / Stilleben mit Hummer (Still Life with Crayfish) / Canvas, 80 x 95 cm
10 Michail Larionov c. 1910 / Porträt eines Mannes (Portrait of a Man) / Canvas, 110 x 80 cm
11 Michail Larionov 1911 / Rayonismus Rot und Blau (Strand) (Rayonism, Red and Blue – Beach) / Canvas, 52 x 68 cm
12 Michail Larionov 1912 / Rayonistische Würstchen und Makrelen (Rayonistic Sausages and Mackerel) / Canvas, 46 x 61 cm
13 Michail Larionov 1912 / Venus / Tempera on Canvas, 36 x 73.5 cm
14 Michail Larionov 1916 / Rayonistische Komposition (Rayonistic Composition) / Gouache on cardboard, 45 x 56 cm