Jack of Diamonds

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Jack of Diamonds


an association of Moscow painters. Term originated from the exhibition of the same name, organized in 1910.

The artists of the Jack of Diamonds group (P. P. Konchalovskii, A. V. Kuprin, A. V. Lentulov, I. I. Mashkov, V. V. Rozhdestvenskii, R. R. Fal’k, and others) rejected the traditions of academicism as well as those of 19th-century realism. But they were also opposed to the mystical, symbolist tendencies in Russian art of the first decade of the 20th century. A fluid artistic search in the spirit of the creative art of P. Cézanne, fauvism, and cubism and a use of the devices of Russian popular prints and folk toys characterized the group’s work. The crisis characteristic of Russian artistic culture in the last decade before the Revolution was reflected in the actual practice of the Jack of Diamonds artists. Having limited the sphere of their activity mainly to the genres of still life, landscape, and portraiture and having asserted the idea of the “intrinsic value” of painting, the artists of the Jack of Diamonds group worked on the formal problems of conveying three-dimensional volume on a plane and of building up forms by means of color. They strove to reveal the primordial, material quality and “thingness” of nature. In the accentuated deformation and generalization of volume, the deliberate crudity and tangibility of the texture, and the garish, joyful, almost popular-print type of colorfulness to be found in the works of the Jack of Diamonds artists, there was an expression in subjective form of an individualistic protest against the bourgeois-philistine taste and way of life (this did not, however, touch upon the existing social principles). There was also a striving to épater le bourgeois as well as attempts to assert in painting the sensual, full-blooded, materially colorful aspects of being.

In 1912 a group of artists who had broken away from the Jack of Diamonds and been drawn to primitivism, cubofuturism, and abstractionism (V. D. and D. D. Burliuk, N. S. Goncharova, M. F. Larionov, K. S. Malevich, and others) organized an exhibition entitled The Donkey’s Tail. By 1916 the earlier association had disintegrated (an exhibition entitled Jack of Diamonds, organized in 1917, did not include works by the leading artists of that association). After the October Revolution many former members of the Jack of Diamonds group, having overcome their one-sided obsession with formal experiments, became prominent masters of Soviet art. In 1925, on the initiative of former members of the Jack of Diamonds, the association of Moscow Painters was founded and subsequently changed to the Association of Moscow Artists.


Vystavka proizvedenii gruppy khudozhnikov “Bubnovyi valet.” Moscow, 1927.
Lebedev, A. K. “Iskusstvo ‘Bubnovogo valeta’ i problema khudozhestvennogo naslediia.” In the collection Voprosy iskusstva v svete bor’by ideologii. Moscow, 1966.
Kogan, D. Z. “Novye techeniia v zhivopisi 1907-1917 godov.” In Istoriia russkogo iskusstva, vol. 10, book 2. Moscow, 1969.
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