Mikhail Larionov’s Rayonism and the Scientific Mythologies of the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century
The article investigates the theory of non-figurative painting developed by Mikhail Larionov (Rayonism) and its connection to parascientific theories of the early twentieth century. One of the central scientific and parascientific mythologies of the time regarded the shift in the understanding of the idea of matter. The notion of ‘radiant matter’ had a prominent place in these mythologies. The article analyses a range of frameworks, within which the idea of ‘radiant matter’ was interpreted (from a scientific research of different phenomena provoked by invisible waves to spiritualist and occultist experiments). The iconography of these waves and the theories of the dissociation of matter represent an essential input to understand how abstract art emerged in early-twentieth-century Russian painting.
Keywords: Russian Avant-garde • Rayonism • Mikhail Larionov • Abstraction