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Georgian graphic art (1900-1920 )

Mary Karbelashvili
In the beginning of XX century the development of graphic art in Georgia was based on the tendencies which were characteristic for the visual art of XIX century. First was laid down the foundations of book design and illustration was laid and then -  the magazine drawings. Little by little the graphic arts and drawing were developed and much prominence was given to xylography.   
In the XIX century a new Georgian language, created large-scale literature, social journalism, Geogian printed media, Georgian theatre were formed in Georgia and laid down the foundation of new Georgian Fine Art. In this period all important undertakings in the culture sphere were provided as the signs of national liberation movement.  At the end of the century was refined the artistic taste and arose new demands to the Art. 
Georgian graphic artists from the first steps devoted their works to the people’s needs and interests. Publication of a book or textbook creation was a matter of national importance which required the efforts of the best representatives of Georgian society and served a purpose of national salvation.
The works of artists working in the XIX century reflect their interests to social-democratic ideas of the epoch. They depicted the real life and focused attention on description of the life of indigent part of society. These artists are: Alexander Mrevlishvili (1866-1933), Mose Toidze (1871-1953), Gigo Gabashvili (1862-1936), Gigo Zaziashvili (1868-1952), Grigol Tatishvili (1838-1911), Oskar Schmerling (1863-1938), Anton GogiaSvili (1878-1907), Henrik Hrinevski (1869-1937). The majority of these artists were studied abroad since in that period there was no art school in Georgia. Only in graphic art worked self-taught artists – Grigol Tatishvili and Anton Gogiashvili.
At the end of XIX- beginning of XX centuries an artist-xylograph Grigol Tatishvili prepared almost all important publication. He has created the coversheets for periodicals, made a valuable contribution to publication of so called “Kartvelishviliseuli” “Vepkhistkaosani” (The Knight in the Panter’s Skin) and “Deda Ena” of I. Gogebashvili. G. Tatishvili is the author of the first placard and therefore is the initiator of this direction.    
An the beginning of XX century among the published stories for children especially outstanding are collected Georgian folktales illustrated by Oskar Schmerling and published in 1915.
A great event in the life of Georgia was publication of collected works of Ilia Chavchavadze issued in 1914.
The journal graphic arts in Georgia starts to develop from the end of XIX century.
In 1893-1904 was published the newspaper “Kvali” – “the politic-literary newspaper with pictures”, illustrated by Mose Toidze, Grigol Tatishvili and Anton Gogiashvili.
Works of Georgian artists, in spite of their sparsity, completely answered to the general character of the newspaper.  Published in newspaper illustrations were not distinguished by their artistic nature, but they are of a great value as historical materials reflecting and enlivening the known fact and events. At the same time these are the first steps of artists whose works maybe not too ingenious, but very attractive by their sincerity and immediacy.
The development of journal graphic arts can be traced in the illustrated supplement to the magazine “Tsnobis purceli”. “Tsnobis purceli” was published in 1896 – 1906, the illustrated supplement – in 1901-1906. Such artists as H.Hrinevski, who prepared illustration for “Everyday Topics”, and I. Rotter greately contributed to the magazine. O.Schmerling also worked for this magazine from 1901.
In 1906 were published documentary drawings of H.Hrinevski and I.Rotter in the illustrated supplement.
In the first quarter of XX century eighty five magazines, newspapers and literary miscellanies were published in Georgia. Gradually young artists began to appear due artistic school established in Tbilisi in 1901. 
The magazine “Eshmakis Matrakhi”, where permanently worked O. Schmerling, was published rather for a longer time (1907-1908).     
In the end of the first quarter of XX century the generation of artists: V. Sidamon-Eristavi, Al. Tsimakuridze, Sh. Kikodze, L.Gudiashvili, D.Kakabadze and I.Toidze was appeared. 
Illustrations in the Georgian magazines attracted the attention of the society. The majority of these drawings did not lose their importance even today not only because they are representatives of graphic arts, but as they preserved the spirit of the epoch and details that revive well known historical events.  This art made a valuable contribution to Georgian democratic – educational movement and laid down the foundation for future development of graphic arts.

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