An early form of abstract art characterised by interacting linear forms derived from rays of light

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  • Michel Larionov, 'Nocturne' circa 1913-14
    Michel Larionov
    Nocturne circa 1913-14
    Oil on canvas
    support: 502 x 610 mm
    frame: 580 x 692 x 40 mm
    Presented by Eugène Mollo and the artist 1953© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002
  • Michel Larionov, 'Rayonist Drawing' circa 1911-2
    Michel Larionov
    Rayonist Drawing circa 1911-2
    Charcoal on paper
    support: 241 x 159 mm
    Presented by Eugène Rubin 1971© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002
  • Natalya Goncharova, 'Rayonist Composition' circa 1912-3
    Natalya Goncharova
    Rayonist Composition circa 1912-3
    Pastel on paper
    support: 314 x 222 mm
    frame: 524 x 413 x 24 mm
    Presented by Eugène Rubin 1969© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002

Rayonism was one of the Russian avant-garde movements that proliferated in Moscow and St Petersburg in the years from about 1910–20. It was the invention of Michel Larionov and his partner Natalya Goncharova in 1912.

Rayonism, or rayism, was based on the effect of light on landscape or cityscapes. Of his rayonist painting Nocturne Larionov later wrote:

This painting was inspired by the dusk at Odessa. It is a problem of the combination of staircases, interiors and exteriors of houses and represents the pressure of the body of dark colours on the semi-light tones. The problem of this painting is to organise these tones in a certain order. It is the conflict of the semi-light rays with the dark rays.