Mikhail Matiushin

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Michael Vasilyevich Matyushin. Born 1861 in Nizhny Novgorod, died 1934 in Leningrad. Russian painter and composer, leading member of the Russian avant-garde. In 1910–1913 Matyushin and his wife Elena Guro (1877–1913) were key members of the Union of the Youth, an association of Russian Futurists. Matyushin, a professional musician and amateur painter, studied physiology of human senses and developed his own concept of the fourth dimension connecting visual and musical arts, a theory that he put to practice in the classrooms of Leningrad Workshop of Vkhutein and INkHUK (1918–1934) and summarized in his 1932 Reference of Colour (Cправочник по цвету).

Matyushin conducted experiments at his Visiology Center (Zorved) to demonstrate that expanding visual sensitivity from retinian optical centers would enable the discovery of "new organic substance and rhythm in the apprehension of space." He tried to teach himself and his students to see with both eyes, each independently, and to widen the field of their vision. He describes some of his work and ideas in a long essay titled "An Artist's Experience of the New Space." In 1913 he, the writer Alexei Kruchonykh and the painter Kazimir Malevich collaborated on what they called the "first Futurist Opera", Victory Over The Sun. Later Russian Futurist sound composers utilized the ideas set forth by these innovators and carried them further, some to the point of exile from their own homes. Mikhail Matyushin, for instance, worked closely with Kandinsky studying color and musical relationships to color. His greatest work was the score for Kruchenykh’s opera Victory Over the Sun, which according to critics and fans was a “wicked and dissonant parody of Verdi” (Gordon, 218)

  • Margareta Tillberg, Coloured Universe and the Russian Avant-Garde. Matiushin on Colour Vision in Stalin's Russia, 1932, Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2003.
  • Isabel Wünsche, Kunst & Leben: Michail Matjuschin und die Russische Avantgarde in St. Petersburg, Vienna/Cologne/Weimar: Böhlau, 2012, 258 pp. (in German) [1], Bibliography.
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