Donkey's Tail

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Donkey’s Tail


a group of young artists headed by M. F. Larionov that broke away from the Jack of Diamonds group and organized two exhibitions in 1912, one in Moscow and the other in St. Petersburg. The latter exhibition included works by members of the Union of Youth.

The shocking name “Donkey’s Tail,” which reflects one of the excesses that typified the French avant-garde, was intended by the group to emphasize the anarchic and rebellious character of their work, as well as their intense rejection of the accepted norms of artistic creation. [The name “Donkey’s Tail” derives from the incident in which a French painter revealed that a painting highly acclaimed by the critics was in fact painted by the switching tail of a donkey.] The name also reflected the group’s proclamation of completely free formal experimentation. The artists’ extremely controversial slogans and deliberate “vulgarization” of images brought the group close in practice to literary futurism.

The Donkey’s Tail included N. S. Goncharova, K. S. Malevich, K. M. Zdanevich, A. V. Shevchenko, S. P. Bobrov, V. E. Tatlin, M. Chagall, A. V. Fonvizin, and M. V. Le-Dantiu. In contrast to the “Westernism” of the Jack of Diamonds, the Donkey’s Tail turned to primitivism, popularizing the work of N. Pirosmanashvili and other primitivists, and to the traditions of Russian icon painting and popular woodcuts (lubki). They proclaimed their inspiration to be the art of the East, although this proclamation essentially remained a slogan. At the same time, some of the group’s members, such as Goncharova and Malevich, displayed an affinity for contemporary trends in Western European art, including futurism and cubism. At the group’s subsequent exhibitions, The Target in 1913 and No. 4 in 1914, a number of participants presented works executed in the style of rayonnism, a method developed by Larionov, which constituted one of the first forms of abstract art.


Oslinyi khvost i Mishen’ (collection). Moscow, 1913.
D’iakonitsyn, L. F. Ideinye protivorechiia v estetike russkoi zhivopisi kontsa 19-nachala 20 vv. [Perm’] 1966. Pages 190–98.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The artists' associations formed from 1904 onwards and examined here, including the Blue Rose, the Jack (or Knave) of Diamonds and the Donkey's Tail, were sometimes fiercely Russian--and at others they were content to absorb and reflect the influence of French and German artists.
Together with Malevich, Tatlin and Morgunov, their so-called Donkey's Tail groups first exhibited in January 1911, sharing premises (but not exhibition catalogues) with the Union of Youth artists.
The next few years saw the demise of both the Jack of Diamonds and the Donkey's Tail, but not without sparking the evolution of some remarkable talents.
The Playboy playmate would have done better blindfolded with a donkey's tail as she placed South Africa (bit of a clue where that is in the name) on Malaysia.
Instead, David O'Leary pinned the donkey's tail on poor Woodgate by substituting him with Jason Wilcox after the third goal went in.
Wants: magnolia varieties, Epiphyllum, hylocereus, Selenicereus, beaver tail cacti, Agave parryi (mescal agave), aloe plicatilis (fan aloe), Joshua tree, Sedum frutescens (tree sedum), donkey's tail, stapelias, bamboo, elephant's foot brochystelma, Trichocereus, any other exotic succulents or cacti, bougainvillea, hibiscus, mantis egg castings
He had just risen high to unleash a 64th-minute header which left Sunderland's Thomas Sorensen flapping in the air like a pin on a donkey's tail contestant.