CURRENT ISSUE - #1 2020 (66)

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Victory and Memory

Victory: 75

Alexander Rozhin

This special anniversary issue of the “Tretyakov Gallery Magazine” is devoted to those two tragedies of the 20th century, the most atrocious world wars in human history, to their participants and witnesses. Most of all it is about the Victory of the nations of the Soviet Union in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, about the living memory that cannot be falsified, idealized or allowed to recede into history. Like the handful of surviving eyewitnesses of this tragic and heroic chapter in history, like their descendants, it is works of art that preserve the memory and teach people to respect our country’s past and take pride in our Motherland.

Ars vs Bellum

Victory: 75

Natella Voiskunski

War in any form brings home to humanity a sense of its vulnerability, of the closeness of mortality; the accompanying hardship and the immediacy of death exacerbate and heighten our perception of being. The Czech philosopher Jan Patocka (1907-1977) articulated the sense of breakdown of a wider morality in the world that was felt in the years after 1918: “The First World War gave rise to a number of explanations that reflected people’s desire to understand the monstrosity of that event, one that, although initiated by the human race, nevertheless appeared beyond the horizon of understanding of man, whether as an individual or as a larger unit; in itself war became, in a certain sense, a phenomenon that had come from beyond the boundaries of the planet itself.” Men of letters - writers, playwrights and poets - as well as artists and sculptors, composers, filmmakers and philosophers from both sides of the conflict would reconsider, each in their own way, the dramatic and existential experience of war, in prose and poetry, painting and sculpture, music and cinema.

Ars vs Bellum | World War I. 1914-1918. The Metronome of Memory

Victory: 75

Natella Voiskunski

The “phenomenon of war” in 20 th century art as it emerged from World War I - a brief cultural resume, drawn from both sides of the conflict.

Ars vs Bellum | The Spanish Civil War: Prelude to World War II

Victory: 75

Natella Voiskunski

The events of the Spanish Civil War horrified the world, and supporters of the Spanish people and the democratically elected Republican government united to oppose reactionary fascism. On April 26 1937, the Condor legion, a unit of the German Luftwaffe assigned for special duty with General Franco’s Nationalist forces, attacked and destroyed Guernica, a town of 6,000 people. In its terrible fate, Guernica became a symbol for the whole world, a forerunner of the destruction of the cities of World War II - Coventry, Stalingrad and Dresden...

Ars vs Bellum | Art in War: War in Art. The Great Patriotic War in Russian Сulture

Victory: 75

Natella Voiskunski

In times of momentous conflict between nations, contrary to that popular dictum Inter arma silent Musae - “When guns talk, the muses fall silent” - art and culture retain their voice. From June 1941 to May 1945, through the years of the Great Patriotic War, the muses were certainly involved in the conflict, strengthening the spirit of those who were fighting, raising the morale of those at the front and those behind the lines who contributed so much to the war effort. The cultural canvas of the Great Patriotic War was a broad one, from evacuation of the museum collections of Leningrad and Moscow to the new generation of writers who would find their voice at the front, from the immortal melodies of Shostakovich’s “Leningrad” Symphony, itself an act of resistance to the Nazi blockade, to the moving war songs that caught the mood of the people. For the post-war Soviet generations, as well as for the majority of Russians today, the Second World War is identical with the Great Patriotic War, even though the latter conflict began only with the German invasion of the U.S.S.R. in June 1941, some two years after fighting had broken out in Europe. Such loose equivalences are inevitable: the First World War had seemed to those then living in the Russian Empire to be comparable to the Patriotic War of 1812, when Russia fought another invasion from the west. The Great Patriotic War in Russia, and across the countries of the former Soviet Union, is forever stamped in the memoirs of our parents and grandparents.

Ars vs Bellum | Monuments of the Great Patriotic War. “NO ONE IS FORGOTTEN, NOTHING IS FORGOTTEN”

Victory: 75

Natella Voiskunski

Monuments of the Great Patriotic War: the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery, the “Heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad” memorial complex, the Khatyn Memorial. “The Unbowed Man”, Ensemble to the Victims of Nazism, the monument to the Soviet Soldier in Rzhev, the War Memorial “The Liberator Warrior”.

Marat Samsonov: The Record of War

Victory: 75

Tatyana Skorobogatova

Marat Samsonov (1925-2013) had always dreamed about becoming an artist, but the Great Patriotic War interfered with his plans. The son of a Red Army commander who died fighting in the battle for Leningrad, Samsonov duly became a professional soldier. Yet his artistic dream would come true, too, and in time he would become a member of the Academy of Arts, as well as receiving the title People’s Artist of Russia. Alongside his involvement with panoramas and dioramas of Borodino and Stalingrad, his work charted conflicts of the second half of the 20th Century, including the war in Vietnam and Soviet involvement in Afghanistan.

Anticipation of Victory. THE ARTISTS REMEMBER

Victory: 75

Memories of the artists: Sergei Tkachev, Yefrem Zverkov, Boris Nemensky, Viktor and Vladimir Tsigal, Grigory Yastrebenetsky, Grigory Ushaev.

The Painters of the Baltic Fleet

Victory: 75

Yevgeny Voiskunski

Born in 1922, Yevgeny Voiskunski is a veteran Russian writer. In 1940, as a second-year student at the Academy of Arts in Leningrad, he was called up to serve in the Red Army. This piece, drawn from his article “The Baltics in the Works of Literature and Art", is dedicated to the work of war artists in the Baltic Fleet during the Great Patriotic War. It was published in “Baltic Sailors in Battles at Sea and on Land. 1941-1945" (Moscow, 1991. Pp. 443-471).

Museum Life in Wartime. Tretyakov Gallery staff recall the trials of the Great Patriotic War

Victory: 75

The outbreak of war in June 1941 heralded years of anxiety and endurance for the Tretyakov Gallery. With the German front approaching Moscow and aerial bombing of the city intensifying, the evacuation of its treasures was initiated, with consignments departing by train for Siberia, to Novosibirsk, and one load dispatched by river barge to Perm. Despite extensive damage to the premises of the Gallery itself, ongoing temporary exhibitions were held there from autumn 1942 as part of the war effort. These extracts from memoirs of the Tretyakov staff - such testaments are predominantly those of women, on whom the greater part of the burden away from the front line fell - make vivid the perils of such journeys, as well as the difficulties they experienced in settling at their destinations.

Henry Moore: The Artist in Wartime

Victory: 75

Florence Hallett

Henry Moore (1898-1986) was one of Britain’s greatest sculptors, and yet it was his drawings of Londoners sheltering from the Blitz that made him famous. Between September 1940 and the summer of 1941, at the height of the German bombing raids on London, Moore made more than 300 drawings, mainly of women and children sheltering on the platforms of the London Underground and in its tunnels, as the city was subjected to nightly air raids that killed some 10,000 civilians. A selection of Moore’s Shelter Drawings was shown at the Hermitage in 2011 in an exhibition, “Blitz and Blockade”, which remembered the German aerial attacks on London in parallel with the beginning of the Siege of Leningrad in 1941. Drawings made by the young architect Alexander Nikolsky that he had sketched in the basements of the Hermitage during the Siege brought home an element of equivalence with Russia’s wartime experience.

Victors and Conquerors

Victory: 75

Alexander Rozhin

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, and with it Soviet Victory in the Great Patriotic War, we once again witness culture becoming a hostage to political interests and ambitions.

The Sistine Madonna in Dresden and Moscow

Victory: 75

Lyudmila Markina

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the death of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483-1520), that genius of the Renaissance whom the world knows as Raphael, with exhibitions planned around the world, from the artist’s birthplace Urbino to Rome, where he died aged only 37 on April 6 1520. Known in his lifetime as the “master of the Madonnas”, his masterpiece the Sistine Madonna found its way in the 18th century to Dresden, where its “second life” began. Badly damaged during World War II, it was restored in Moscow in 1945-1955, “reborn” yet again, before its return to its German home following a landmark exhibition at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in 1955. In such a way, the picture has been linked historically to both Germany and Russia, and the emotional impact of Raphael’s work has brought together artists and writers from both nations.

 

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