Maria Taroutina

Humanities (Art History)



Associate Professor
Head of Studies, Arts and Humanities

Contact No.: + 65 6601-3421

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As a scholar of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Associate Professor Maria Taroutina has focused her research primarily on the architecture, painting, and sculpture of Imperial and early Soviet Russia with the aim of tracing its historical contribution to international modernism. She received her PhD in the History of Art from Yale University in 2013, where she was also an undergraduate student (Class of 2006).

Assoc Prof Taroutina’s research derives conceptual and methodological provocations from re-examining entrenched art historical narratives, particularly with regard to questions pertaining to modernity, the historical avant-garde, and the visual culture of empire, both Tsarist and Soviet. Her approach can be characterised as revisionist and cross-temporal, aiming to challenge the linear trajectory of Russian art history in favour of a circular or synergetic model of inquiry, which considers in tandem artistic practitioners, movements, and institutions that are viewed in antithetical rather than dialogical terms. In doing so, Assoc Prof Taroutina strives to reassess the dominant interpretative frameworks associated with the modernist paradigm in Russia and to offer new modes of viewing and thinking about both canonical and neglected artists and oeuvres.

Her first book, The Icon and the Square: Russian Modernism and the Russo-Byzantine Revival (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018) explores the personal and intellectual affinities that bound artists and critics associated with avant-garde culture to the thinkers of the historicist Russo-Byzantine medieval revival. In 2019 it was awarded the USC Book Prize in Literary and Cultural Studies by ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies). Taroutina has also co-edited two volumes, Byzantium/Modernism (Brill Academic Publishers, 2015) and New Narratives of Russian and East European Art: Between Traditions and Revolutions.

She is currently working on two new books: a monograph on Mikhail Vrubel and a study of Russian Orientalist painting, tentatively titled Looking East: Russian Orientalism in the Age of Empire. The latter project examines the various ways in which Russian artists responded to Russia’s historical relationship with Asia, closely analysing their participation in a fraught and multivalent discourse that advanced Russia’s colonial machinery on the one hand and critiqued it on the other. More specifically, the project explores how Russian Orientalism was structured by a complex triadic model involving Europe, Russia, and Asia and considers how “the Orient” became an important discursive site from which Russia’s own political, social and cultural shortcomings could be recognised and critiqued.

The Icon and the Square: Russian Modernism and the Russo-Byzantine Revival. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018.

New Narratives of Russian and East European Art: Between Traditions and Revolutions, co-edited with Galina Mardilovich. New York: Routledge, 2019.

Byzantium/Modernism: The Byzantine as Method in Modernity, co-edited with Roland Betancourt. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2015.

Experiment: A Journal of Russian Culture, Vol. 25: Abramtsevo and Its Legacies: Neo-National Art, Craft and Design, co-edited with Louise Hardiman and Ludmila Piters-Hofmann. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2019.

A Most Curious Place’: Vasilii Polenov and Ilia Repin’s Trip to London in 1875,” The Tretyakov Gallery Magazine 64 (2019): 44-57.

“The Poetics and Aesthetics of Otherness. Orientalism and Identity at Abramtsevo,” Experiment: A Journal of Russian Culture 25 (2019): 53-67.

“Before and Beyond the Avant-Garde: The Forgotten Art Histories of Nikolai Punin and Nikolai Tarabukin,” Ludmila Piters-Hofmann, Tanja Malycheva and Isabel Wunsche, eds. What is to Be Done? Art Practice, Theory and Criticism in Russia during the Long Nineteenth Century. Berlin: Logos Verlag, forthcoming in 2020.

“From First Rome to Third Rome: Nikodim Kondakov and Late Antique Studies,” Clifford Ando and Marco Formisano, eds. The New Late Antiquity: Intellectual Portraits. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, forthcoming in 2020.

“Between East and West: Reconsidering Mikhail Vrubel’s “Nativist” Aesthetics,” Experiment: A Journal of Russian Culture 23 (2017): 66-79.

“From Angels to Demons: Mikhail Vrubel and the Search for a Modernist Idiom,” Louise Hardiman and Nicola Kozicharow, eds. Modernism and the Spiritual in Russian Art. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2017.

“Second Rome or Seat of Savagery: The Case of Byzantium in Nineteenth-Century European Imaginaries,” David O’Brien, ed. Civilization and Nineteenth-Century Art: A European Concept in a Global Context, 150-177. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016.

“Iconic Encounters: Vasily Kandinsky’s and Pavel Florensky’s ‘Mystic Productivism,’” Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1 (2016): 55-65.

“From Church to Harem: Nineteenth-Century Orientalism and the Neo-Byzantine Revival” in Evgeny Steiner, ed. Orientalism/Occidentalism: The Languages of Culture vs. the Languages of Description, 76-86. Moscow: Natalis Publishing House, 2012.

Contributing author to Cathleen Chaffee, ed. Eye on a Century: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Collection of Charles B. Benenson at the Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.

Critical Approaches to Art History
Introduction to the Arts
Masterpieces of Western Art from the Renaissance to the Present
Art and Politics: From Modernity to Post-Modernity
Historical Immersion: Painting the Orient: Orientalist Representations in Nineteenth-Century European Visual Culture
Historical Immersion: Kazimir Malevich and the Black Square
Literature and Humanities II