Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova (June 16, 1881 - October 17, 1962) was a Russian avant-garde artist (Cubo-Futurism), painter, costume designer, writer, illustrator, and set designer. Her great-aunt was Natalia Pushkina, wife of the poet Alexander Pushkin.Goncharova was born in Nagaevo village near Tula, Russia in 1881. She studied sculpture at the Moscow Academy of Art, but turned to painting in 1904. She was deeply inspired by the primitive aspects of Russian folk art and attempted to emulate it in her own work while incorporating elements of fauvism and cubism. Together with her husband Mikhail Larionov she first developed Rayonism. They were the main progenitors of the pre-Revolution Russian avant-garde organising the Donkey's Tail exhibition of 1912 and showing with the Der Blaue Reiter in Munich the same year.
The Donkey's Tail was conceived as an intentional break from European art influence and the establishment of an independent Russian school of modern art. However, the influence of Russian Futurism is much in evidence in Goncharova's later paintings. Initially preoccupied with icon painting and the primitivism of ethnic Russian folk-art, Goncharova became famous in Russia for her Futurist work such as The Cyclist and her later Rayonist works. As leaders of the Moscow Futurists, they organised provocative lecture evenings in the same vein as their Italian counterparts. Goncharova was also involved with graphic design - writing and illustrating a book in Futurist style.
Goncharova was a member of the Der Blaue Reiter avant-garde group from its founding in 1911. In 1915, she began to design ballet costumes and sets in Geneva. Her designs for the ballet Liturgy: Six Winged Seraph,Angel, St. Andrew, St. Mark, Nativity etc. were started in 1915. The Liturgy was commissioned by Diaghilev with Goncharova, Léonide Massine and Igor Stravinsky. She moved to Paris in 1921 where she designed a number of stage sets of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. She also shows at the Salon d'Automne in 1921, and participates regularly at the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon des Indépendants. She became a French citizen in 1939. Goncharova died in Paris, in 1962.
On June 18, 2007 Goncharova's 1909 painting Picking Apples was auctioned at Christie's for $9.8 million, setting a record for any female artist. In November 2007, Bluebells, (1909), brought $6.2 million. The record was updated a year later, when Goncharova's 1912 still-life The Flowers (formerly part of Guillaume Apollinaire's collection) sold for $10.8 million