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The ideological unity of the symbolist aesthetic had already begun to show strains by 1906 (we will discuss these in our examination of Alexander Blok's play The Puppet Show). In Symbolism's wake came a dizzying series of ephemeral avant-garde movements, most of which defined themselves by overt opposition to the precepts of the symbolists. Nevertheless, all of these movements grew out of Symbolism and, whatever they may have claimed, they owed a great deal to it. In painting, by around 1907 the soft aestheticism of symbolist art gave way to a primitivist school headed by Mikhail Larionov (1881-1964), and his wife, Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962). Both were well aware of postimpressionist tendencies in France, and were particularly impressed with the later work of Paul Gauguin and the Fauves. This they combined with an appreciation of Russian folk, popular, and religious art — including the "lubok" (popular woodcuts) and traditional peasant crafts including carving and embroidery — to produce a highly provocative and original aesthetic.

One of Larionov's Soldier Paintings (1909):

Larionov's service in the Russian army provided the inspiration for a whole series of soldier paintings, including this one of 1909. Note Larionov's deliberate distortion of perspective and his use of words on the canvas to create a miniature dramatic scene.

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