Merlin James curated a Serge Charchoune exhibition at the Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh, 2012-13. It travelled to the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago in May-August 2013.
SERGE CHARCHOUNE (1888-1975)
‘The exhibition is open…’
This exhibition offers a concise reconsideration of the career of Russian artist and writer Serge Charchoune. While involved with Dada, Cubism, Purism and informal abstraction, Charchoune operated quite autonomously within and beyond those movements. His painting can anticipate, in very personal ways, aspects of Abstract Expressionism, minimalism and ‘pattern painting’, and his writing looks forward to ‘language poetry’ and autofiction. In general Charchoune’s stylistic diversity speaks to post-modernism, but as a figure in twentieth-centry art and literature he seems to hide in plain view, reflecting a couplet from his 1921 Dada poem Foule Immobile: ‘The exhibition is open. And still no one sees it.‘ An associate of Duchamp, Picabia, Schwitters, Léger, Tzara, Breton, Ernst, de Staël and many others, yet Charchoune cultivated an elusive, semi-invisible persona, commenting ‘I lie low, and have a lot of freedom.’
17 November 2012 – 16 February 2013
Wednesday 21 November, 5.15pm
Organised by the Princess Dashkova Russian Centre at the University of Edinburgh, this discussion by Merlin James, curator of the exhibition, offered an opportunity to consider Charchoune’s work, in particular in the context of the Russian cultural diaspora. Charchoune’s relevance for the post-modern period will be explored, and his relation to other highly independent figures in twentieth-century art.
Curator’s talk: Serge Charchoune: a low profile
Wednesday 28 November, 6.00pm
Artist Merlin James introduced the exhibition and gave an overview of the unique achievements of artist and writer Serge Charchoune. Reserved by nature and often overlooked by mainstream art history, Charchoune was nevertheless an associate of Picabia, Schwitters, Léger, Tzara, Breton, Ernst, de Staël and many others. From post-modern perspectives his significance is increasingly emerging.
Symposium: Word & Image in Russian Contexts – The Legacy of the Russian Avant Garde
Friday 1 February, 9.30am – 7pm
Organised by University of Edinburgh’s Dr. Alexandra Smith and sponsored by the Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies, University of Glasgow, this symposium examined the Russian Avant Garde in the context of the Serge Charchoune exhibition.
University of Edinburgh
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