Natalia Goncharova was a major figure in early 20th century Russian art, and is now one of the most highly priced Russian artists in history. A controversial figure who scandalized Moscow with her open cohabitation with the modernist painter Mikhail Larionov, she was noted for her avant-garde art which borrowed heavily from Russian icon painting and other forms of primitive art.
Natalia Goncharova studied sculpture in Moscow, but worked as a painter. She was inspired both by an interest in Russian folk art, and by modernism in art. With her husband Mikhail Larionov she first developed a style called Rayonism. They part of the pre-Revolution Russian avant-garde. They helped to organise the so-called 'Donkey's Tail' exhibition of 1912, and showed their work at the Der Blaue Reiter exhibition in Munich the same year.
Goncharova became famous in Russia for her Futurist work such as The Cyclist and her later Rayonist works. They organised lecture evenings and Goncharova wrote and illustrating a book in Futurist style.
In 1913, she began to design ballet costumes and sets for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and elsewhere. She did the stage and costume design for these ballets: LeCoqd'Or' (1914), TheLiturgy (1915), Ygrushka (1921) Reynard (with her husband; 1922), Les Noces (1923), Une nuit sur le mont chauve (1924),The Firebird (1926 revival), Sur le Borsythène (with her husband; 1932), Cendrillon (1938), Bogatyri (1938) and the 1954 Sadler's Wells production ofFirebird.
Goncharova moved to Paris in 1921, where she regularly exhibited her art. She became a French citizen in 1939. She died in Paris, in 1962.
The largest collections of her work are in the Pompidou Centre in Paris; the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg; and the State Tretyakov Gallery, inMoscow.