the marionettes of Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Ekster

Much appreciation has been forthcoming from Artloggers for the constructivist marionettes of the Russian artist and stage designer Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Ekster (1884 -1849) recently featured in three puppet-themed posts. Having since found further examples of Exter’s marionettes, I’ve decided to gather all the images I have of her puppets into a single post.

There’s an Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Ekster Wikipedia entry for anyone inclined to read more about her, but here’s a brief summary of the facts. After studying art at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, Exter returned to Russia where she became a leading stage-designer and produced the set and costume designs for what is often called the first Soviet science-fiction film, Aelita, (1924) aka Aelita: Queen of Mars. That same year she and her husband Nicolas Evgenievich Ekster emigrated to France, where Alexandra lived for the rest of her life. She moved and worked in a circle of artistic elite, and was friends with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Guillaume Apollinaire and Gertrude Stein.

I haven’t been able to find evidence of Ekster giving performances with her marionettes, which might suggest they were more by way of the artist being playful with three-dimensional form in the process of designing for the theatre. (Though if that’s the case they were enormously elaborate constructs.) She also made maquettes of costumes/characters for the stage, as well as producing costume designs by the more usual method of drawings/watercolours on paper.

 …

Below is an example of an Exter maquette of characters/costumes for Romeo and Juliet,  followed by three costume designs for a production of Salome.

Maquettes of figures from Romeo and Juliet, circa 1924

Costume designs for Salome. 1922

Images of Ekter’s work as a  painter and stage designer may be found at THIS Pinterest page.

UPDATE:

And here, to wind up this post neatly, is a photograph just sent to me by my friend Leonard Greco. He took it yesterday at LACMA, and it’s of a wonderful Ekster marionette. Thank you, Leonard.

Alexandra Exter

Russia, 1884 – 1949

Evening Dress (Habit de Rigeur) 1926

Wood, cardboard, plastic and material

dada and constructivist marionettes of the twentieth century

There’s been a lot of interest here at the Artlog in the constructivist puppets of the Russian artist and stage designer Aleksandra Aleksandrovna Ekster that I featured in my two posts about marionettes. Here are a few more of her puppets.

After studying art at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, Exter returned to Russia where she became a leading stage-designer and produced the set and costume designs for what is often called the first Soviet science-fiction film, Aelita, (1924) aka Aelita: Queen of Mars. That same year she and her husband Nicolas Evgenievich Ekster emigrated to France, where Alexandra lived for the rest of her life. She moved and worked in a circle of artistic elite, and was friends with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Guillaume Apollinaire and Gertrude Stein.

Below: images from Aelita

Practioners of the Dada and Constructivism movements were particularly drawn to puppetry as an expression of their art. Among their number were Ekster (1882 – 1949), Otto Morach (1887 – 1973), Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889 – 1943) and Hanna Hoch (1889 – 1978). Here are some images of marionettes designed and made by Morach, Taeuber-Arp and Hoch.

Below: marionettes by Otto Morach

Below: marionettes by Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Above: Sophie and Jean Hans Arp with marionettes

Below: marionettes by Hanna Hoch