I am glad that you have opened this special edition of the “Tretyakov Gallery Magazine” devoted to Germany. It is being published as part of the Year of Germany in Russia 2020/21, which is remarkable in many different ways: for example, the COVID-19 pandemic plays a role in determining the timing, venue and format of events. And it is very clear that the political relations between our countries are currently under considerable strain. Efforts towards dialogue, discovery, exchanges, encounters and, ultimately, mutual understanding between people will therefore be all the more important and meaningful.
So how do you showcase a country in our very complex and globalised reality? In a world in which the major issues that will define the future, such as climate and poverty problems or the regulation of cyberspace, require more cooperation and participation across the globe?
The focus of the Year of Germany will be on the major question of how we live alongside each other and, based on this necessity, how we see ourselves. For these times have taught us that we have to be prepared to develop a way of living together in harmony as well as of understanding each other across the physical separation of continents and the divisions of state borders.
In the coming months, therefore, we want to present Germany as it is. We will bring much of Germany’s day-to-day reality to Russia and invite you to experience it with us: the quality of German business, the achievements of our education system and German research and technology, as well as our wonderful culture. At the same time, however, it is equally important to us that we show what all of this is based on: social discourse, competition for leadership positions, the struggle for the best possible solutions. For, more than ever before, today’s Germany is markec by diversity - in essence, diversity of opinions and ideas, their tolerant discourse and an openness to exchange beyond borders.
I am especially pleased that the Tretyakov Gallery will play a prominent part in the Year of Germany and will host dialogues and encounters with magnificent art. In collaboration with the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections), the exhibition “Dreams of Freedom. Romanticism in Russia and Germany” will be showing world-famous works of art from an age of upheaval in which artists in Germany and in Russia were searching for answers to restrictions on their freedom. The Leipzig String Quartet will perform works of the early Romantic period, including pieces by the young Beethoven, whose 250th birthday we celebrated in 2020. In contrast, the exhibition “Diversity United” will present contemporary works by 90 artists from 35 European countries, including Germany and Russia. These works demonstrate the diversity that is the hallmark of our Europe: the diversity of themes, of languages, of cultures - and I am sure that they will show us, with the sensitivity of art, how diversity and unity can coexist. The two exhibitions will be linked together in an “artist talk”, thus creating a dialogue about values, emotions and forms of expression that promises to provide exciting insights.
However, the Year of Germany is not just about large-scale projects, but is also about countless equally important smaller events. These will be seen in many places all around Russia in both virtual and in-person formats. I hope that many people in Russia will be interested to learn what matters to people in Germany today and what defines our country.
I therefore cordially invite you to join us in the Year of Germany in Russia!
Geza Andreas von Geyr
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Russian Federation
To the readers of “Germany - Russia.
On the Crossroads of Cultures”, a special issue of the “Tretyakov Gallery Magazine”
I am glad to welcome you to what is a special issue of the “Tretyakov Gallery Magazine”, prepared as part of the 2020/2021 “Year of Germany in Russia”: “Germany - Russia. On the Crossroads of Cultures.” This issue will provide you with a glimpse of the rich and multifaceted world of German art, present Russian and German points of view on various cultural tendencies, and introduce you to the world-famous museums and galleries of the Federal Republic.
I would like to underline the age-old and deep-seated tradition of Russian-German cultural contacts which have had a seminal significance in the context of our bilateral ties. The interpenetration of Russian and German cultures which has taken place over the course of centuries has facilitated the enrichment and development of both cultures within the frame of European civilization. Today, bilateral cultural cooperation is characterised by the genuine mutual interest of the citizens of both our countries and strengthened by extensive creative exchange and dialogue. This should be the case into the future because it is precisely in times as complicated as those which Russian-German relations are currently going through that cultural cooperation comes to the fore, free as it is from politics, moralising or the influence of the wider situation.
Unfortunately, due to the epidemiological restrictions brought about by the spread of coronavirus, we had to postpone a number of important Russian-German events until 2021, including some which had been planned for the Tretyakov Gallery. I am referring in particular to “Diversity/United. Contemporary Art of Europe: Moscow. Berlin. Paris”, an exhibition of paintings by contemporary artists to be held at the New Tretyakov Gallery, as well as “Dreams of Freedom. Romanticism in Russia and Germany”, an exhibition which will introduce visitors to about 150 canvases by masters of this unique current in art, which expressed itself very differently in both Russia and Germany.
I hope that the restrictions brought about by the complex epidemiological situation in this country and the wider world will be lifted sooner or later, and that they will not prevent you from enjoying in the fullest possible measure these and other collaborative cultural projects.
I would also like to wish readers of this special issue of the “Tretyakov Gallery Magazine” all the very best, and express the hope that they experience vivid new impressions from their encounters with the best examples of European culture!
of the President of the Russian Federation
for International Cultural Cooperation
This edition of the “Tretyakov Gallery Magazine” is dedicated to the Year of Germany in Russia. And this is only natural, as the historical and cultural ties between our peoples go back centuries.
In the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin, “we need to be mindful of Russian-German relations and not let them be jeopardised by issues of the day. Mutual respect between our nations has been and remains key to our relationship.”
The first documents and evidence of this date back to the rule of Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov. Of course, there was, back then, a significantly higher proportion of German speakers in Russia than any other foreign nationals. As such, in Moscow, for example, a German Quarter appeared, and, in the Volga region, there were whole communities of German farmers and artisans. Relations reached a peak in the 18th and 19th centuries with military, economic and political alliances and scientific and cultural exchanges. Indeed, to get a sense of the cultural interaction between our two nations, we just have to look at Vasily Zhukovsky and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; the Romantic era that characterised both countries; Pushkin’s profound interest in German literature, particularly the work of Schiller and Goethe; and the influence that the philosophical works of Kant, Fichte and Hegel had on the educated classes in Russian society. These relations were all the stronger when it came to the exchange of intellectual achievements in the humanities and exact sciences.
The 20th century brought with it a new dimension to these relations, despite being overshadowed by the events of the First and Second World Wars. It must be remembered, however, that the then “young” united German state was among the first to recognise Soviet Russia in the 1920s. A new stage in the Russian-German exchange of ideas began, as much in terms of artistic legacy as in modern developments and discoveries in culture.
Then, in our lifetime, in the second half of the 20th century, these relations took on another dimension - the rebuilding of trust and the creation of a dialogue between our two states and peoples.
In this issue, readers will learn of the current developments in modern European art, in the specific context of Germany and Russia. This content is, in part, controversial; however, most importantly, the authors of the articles are looking for new avenues and new areas of common interest for the two cultures - and not just within the art world, but also in terms of the ecology of culture and artistic development in the individual. Namely, everything that future life on Earth depends upon.
As the sponsor of the “Tretyakov Gallery Magazine”, I feel greatly inspired that the publication of this collaborative issue will facilitate, in practical terms, familiarity with the originality of the Russian and German people - and that of all others - as well as the creation of a united, diverse cultural space for Europe and the world, which offers a sense of trust and cooperation.
President of Vi Holding group, General Sponsor of the Magazine
Thank you very much for your interest in this special edition of the “Tretyakov Gallery Magazine”.
The present edition has been conceived jointly by Russian and German academic art experts. It is dedicated in particular to the German art scene as seen from the German-Russian cultural exchange perspective and takes a close look at selected current topics now of interest to artists, museum directors and cultural studies experts in Germany.
This publication also continues the longstanding partnership between the Goethe-Institut Moscow and the State Tretyakov Gallery. Just last year, the New Tretyakov Gallery presented the Goethe-Institut exhibition “The City of Tomorrow”.
I would especially like to call your attention to the essay by Lyudmila Markina dedicated to the exhibition “Dreams of Freedom. Romanticism in Russia and Germany” (“Traume von Freiheit. Romantik in Russland und Deutschland”). The exhibition is a joint project of the Tretyakov Gallery and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) and will be featured as part of the German Year in Moscow.
The present edition would, of course, be incomplete without a look at the scene in the current art metropolis Berlin. This is complemented by an essay on a project commemorating the 100th anniversary of the “First Russian Art Exhibition, Berlin 1922”, which made a decisive contribution to the reevaluation of the Russian impact on the development of modern art.
A portrait of Anne Imhof, currently one of the most prominent German artists of the middle generation, and an essay on the reception of artistic works in the GDR after the fall of the Berlin Wall will interest you, as will an essay on a typically German institution: the Kunstverein (art association). Kunstvereine are operated by dedicated citizens and have a 200-year tradition. They often serve as a springboard in the careers of artists and curators, presenting new positions independently and often experimentally. And in an interview, you will meet two of the currently most successful German museum directors, whose past experiences with Kunstvereine proved to be formative.
I would like to thank all those individuals who worked to successfully bring about this special edition of the “Tretyakov Gallery Magazine”. I wish everyone a stimulating reading experience and I look forward to meeting you at the events of the German Year.
Dr. Heike Uhlig
Head of the Goethe-Institut Moscow and the Eastern Europe/Central Asia Region (OEZA)
I am delighted to be able to present a special issue of the “Tretyakov Gallery Magazine” dedicated to German-Russian cultural ties. Under the auspices of the Year of Germany in Russia, we had planned to hold two large international projects in 2020, developed and implemented together with our colleagues from Germany. However, circumstances, namely the pandemic, forced us to change our plans. It was a difficult year for us and our German partners, but it was most difficult of all for true lovers of art: cancelled exhibitions, concerts and plays deprived people of their most important spiritual support.
Life at the museum, however, did not cease even for a minute. In order to find our way around this blockade, all cultural institutions prepared new forms of interactive communication with the public as efficiently as possible. Nonetheless, no broadcast or online excursion can possibly replace the experience of encountering a piece of art in person.
We fully understood the huge responsibility borne by our museum and prepared assiduously for the opening of our permanent and temporary exhibitions in the post-lockdown period. During these months, we have been in close contact with our colleagues from Germany with regards to our future projects, which we dream of opening as soon as restrictions brought about by the epidemiological situation around the world can be lifted.
It was only by coming together that we were able to withstand this storm and continue our collective work. The support of the Russian and German foreign ministries was very important for us and our German partners at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections).
I would like to make special mention of the selfless work of colleagues from both the Tretyakov Gallery and the Dresden Galerie Neue Meister (New Masters Gallery). The preparations for the exhibition “Dreams of Freedom. Romanticism in Russia and Germany” took more than two years to complete. During that time, the international curation group managed to find the only true approach to the unveiling par excellence of the complex phenomenon of Romanticism.
The main aim of this exhibition on Romanticism is to reveal the special similarities of spirit among the epoch’s key artists. Alexander Ivanov was linked to the German artists of the Nazarene movement by special ties - he was thunderstruck by Johann Friedrich Overbecks’ revolutionary piece “The Triumph of Religion in the Arts” when he saw it in Rome.
In a sense, that experience became the impulse for the creation of one of the most important masterpieces of Russian Painting: “The Appearance of Christ Before the People.”
Romanticism itself is difficult to place in any particular chronological or geographic frames, which is why the exhibition will include works by contemporary artists from Germany, Russia and other countries.
In recent years, we have been developing academic and exhibition exchanges with many German museums. Examples of this activity include the 2018 exhibit “Constructing the World: Art and Economy 1919-1939 and 2008-2018” in Mannheim and the unique, soon-to-be-opened exhibition “Impressionism in Russia. Dawn of the Avant-garde”, which is currently languishing in the closed halls of the Museum Barberini in Potsdam.
We are forging relationships with a variety of state and civic institutions within Germany. During our work with the Dresden State Art Collections, our relations with our partners grew into a real friendship founded on mutual trust and respect.
Once again, we see that dialogue is essential in any situation, at which point, irresolvable arguments turn into fruitful discussions as multiplicities of views in the end converge into a single coordination decision. In this way, culture becomes, once more, that ambassador of goodwill that calls upon opposing sides to unite. We very much hope that this dialogue will be taken up in turn by the politicians of many countries because the unity of Europe, and indeed the world, lies precisely in its diversity.
We await our readers in the Tretyakov Gallery, given that visitors are perhaps even more necessary to a museum than a museum is to its visitors.
Best wishes for your good health.
General Director State Tretyakov Gallery