Anniversary Chronicle

Marina Elzesser

Article: 
150th ANNIVERSARY OF TRETYAKOV GALLERY
Magazine issue: 
#3 2006 (12)

In May 2006 the Tretyakov Gallery celebrated the 150th anniversary of its foundation. It is no accident that the history of the museum is regarded as having started in 1856 when Pavel Tretyakov first began to buy paintings by Russian artists, and not 1881 when the gallery was opened to the public, or 1892 when the Tretyakov brothers’ collections were given to the city of Moscow. The reality is that, before starting his collection, Pavel Tretyakov had conceived it not as a private collection appealing to his personal taste but as an “artistic museum”, a “... public repository of fine arts accessible to everyone, a source of use for many, a pleasure for all”. That is why Tretyakov himself- and after his death, the gallery’s Board of Trustees - confidently marked 1856 as the beginning of the first Russian national fine arts museum.

The Tretyakov Gallery

Over the past 150 years the Tretyakov Gallery has become one of the largest museums in Russia, as well as in the world. But - probably the most important factor - apart from having an "official status” as the repository of national art, it is a genuinely popular museum, truly loved by millions of people. That is why the Tretyakov Gallery's anniversary has become such a significant event in Russia's cultural life.

The Tretyakov Gallery has spent more than a year preparing an extensive programme of exhibitions, publications, promotional activities and large-scale events to mark its 150th anniversary. December 2005, the threshold of the jubilee year, marked the opening of the first exhibition, directly linked with the personality and the collection of the gallery's founder - "Drawings and Watercolours in the Collection of Pavel Tretyakov” (with the financial support of British American Tobacco Russia). 250 of 1600 works from Pavel Tretyakov's collection of graphic art were exhibited in the graphic art halls.

On May 23, during the the jubilee celebrations, the exhibition "The Brothers Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov. Life and Work” was opened to the public. One of the main exhibitions of the anniversary year, it is a multi-faceted presentation of the lifestyle of the Tretyakov brothers, their characters and the history of their collections. The exhibition has a historical and cultural significance, including the brothers' personal belongings, portraits of family members, furniture from the Tretyakovs' house and archival materials, as well as samples of fabrics made at the Novo-Kostromskaya linen mill which the family owned.

The exhibition reveals the distinctive features of Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov's collecting activity, their different approaches and personal preferences. The works from the Tretyakov Gallery's collection give an idea of the stages of its creation by Pavel Mikhailovich. The paintings by West European, mainly French, masters, which formed the basis of Sergei Mikhailovich's collection, are part of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, to which they were moved from the Tretyakov Gallery in the 1920s.

As part of the programme entitled "World Museums Congratulate the Tretyakov Gallery”, the exhibition "Masterpieces of the Musee d'Orsay” opened in April at the gallery's building on Krymsky Val with the financial support of OAO Vneshtorgbank. It shows 55 works from the second half of the 19th century through the beginning of the 20th century from the famous Paris collection. While this is a true congratulatory gesture and is meant as a gift for the Tretyakov Gallery's anniversary, it is also a representation of the art which inspired many Russian painters. When speaking of the second half of the 19th century, we should remember that that was the time during which the Tretyakov brothers were actively increasing their collections. Interestingly, the painters Jules Bastien-Lepage, Camille Corot, Charles-Francois Daubigny, Gustave Courbet, Jean-Francois Millet and Jules Breton, represented at the Orsay exhibition, were a focus of interest for Sergei Tretyakov in his collecting activity.

The international celebration of the Tretyakov Gallery's anniversary will continue through to December 2006, with the opening of the exhibition "Whistler and Russia”. For the first time, the paintings of the Anglo-American artist James McNeill Whistler (18341903) will be shown in the context of his work being linked to Russia, where he spent six years from 1843 to 1849. The exhibition project, in which Russian, British and American museums will take part, is being carried out jointly with the British Council and with the financial support of Alisher Usmanov and Vasily Anisimov.

The project entitled "Russian Museums Congratulate the Tretyakov Gallery”, consisting of several parts, is also dedicated to the Tretyakov Gallery's anniversary. The exhibition "Drawings and Watercolours in Russian Culture. The First Half of the 19th Century” opened in April in the graphic art halls on Lavrushinsky Pereulok. Visitors had a rare opportunity to see approximately 200 works from the collections of the famous St. Petersburg Russian Museum by Orest Kiprensky, Vasily Shebuev, Alexander Orlovsky, Alexander and Karl Bryullov, Pyotr Sokolov, Fyodor Tolstoy and other prominent masters of graphic art.

In honour of the anniversary, the permanent exhibition of classical art on Lavrushinsky Pereulok was supplemented with works from first-rate collections from Moscow and St. Petersburg. These included world-class masterpieces by Dmitry Levitsky, Karl Bryullov, Ilya Repin and Valentin Serov from the Russian Museum, and rare paintings from the time of Peter I from the Moscow-based Golytsyn private collection. This unprecedented placement of "non-local” paintings in the museum's main halls allowed the public to evaluate the works of the artists represented in a more comprehensive way and to see well-known works in a new context.

On other changes in the permanent exhibition, one surprising fact must be noted. The painting "The Crucifixion” (Golgotha) (1892) by Nikolai Ghe was brought from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris; hung in the Ghe hall on Lavrushinsky Pereulok, among the other works of the artist's so-called "Passion Cycle”, it gives the public a unique opportunity to see the whole series at its fullest.

The project "Russian Museums Congratulate the Tretyakov Gallery” gave its name to an exhibition at the gallery's building on Krymsky Val, organized with the financial support of Anatoly Novikov and the company "SeverStal Group”. It shows masterpieces of icon-painting, painting and sculpture from the collections of more than 30 museums - mainly those which have participated in the Tretyakov Gallery's long-term federal project "Russia's Golden Map”. Regional museums gladly offered the best works of art from their collections for the exhibition in Moscow; many of the works concerned are in one way or another connected with the Tretyakov Gallery and its history, and some were bought or even specially commissioned by the gallery's founder (like the portrait of Gogol by Fyodor Moller (1840), the portrait of Pisemsky by Vasily Perov (1879), "The Pechersky Monastery Near Nizhny Novgorod” by Alexei Savrasov (1871)). Later, in the 1920s-1 9 30s they were transferred to the collections of provincial museums.

The fact that Russia's museum community has saluted the Tretyakov Gallery with a true gala parade of masterpieces is evidence of the authority and significance of the capital's museum within the country's cultural environment.

In the gallery on Krymsky Val not only such exhibitions - deserving serious attention - appeared, but also the renewed permanent collection of art of the 20th century. By May 2006, with the support of the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, the first stage of the display renewal was completed, including halls 1-13 (art of the 1910s- 1920s) and 39-42 (the experimental section of latest trends). The main task that the curators of the new version of the exhibition tried to fulfill was to make the display of 20th century art more dynamic and spectacular, to build its logic on the principle of contrast, so that the replacement of visual impressions facilitated the perception and comprehension of the exhibited materials.

As well as such outstanding exhibitions opened in honour of the anniversary in the museum itself, the Moscow City Government initiated an exhibition with the intriguing title "The Tretyakov Gallery Opens Its Store-rooms” in the New Manege Exhibition Hall. Visitors were given the opportunity to see painting and sculptural masterpieces by masters of the In front of the famous Vasnetsov facade of the gallery on Lavrushinsky Pereulok, which has become a symbol of the gallery, the outstanding Japanese designer, creator of huge installations and land-art works Tetsunori Kavana placed a composition of eight-metre-long green bamboo "The Tretyakov Gallery beyond Boundaries". The installation, resembling a corridor in front of the museum entrance, symbolized a "spiritual transition" from the mundane world into the world of beauty. The author deliberately chose green bamboo as a material for his work, as it communicates the author's message to the museum with wishes of eternal youth, confident progression and the achievement of new heights.

And on Krymsky Val the gallery's facade has been transformed with an installation by Alexander Konstantinov "The Tretyakov. Roaming Walls”. It consists of six parts (at the entrance, in the lobby and in the courtyard) and represents symbolic fragments of the Vasnetsov facade of the main building made in the original technology invented by Konstantinov: the "drawing” is made in coloured Scotch tape on a vast surface of specially created constructions. Thus, the artist emphasized the inseparable link between the two buildings of the Tretyakov Gallery, which have existed - one for 20 years, the other for 150 years.

Shortly before the anniversary the city authorities organized public events which attracted large numbers of people. On 18 May, the International Museum Day and the Day of Moscow's cultural and historic heritage, the municipal Culture Committee organized a public festival to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery. On a specially constructed stage on Lavrushinsky Pereulok a concert with free admission for all those interested, including numerous visitors to the gallery, was held.

On 20 May the building on Krymsky Val gathered school and university students for a festival of youth programmes which lasted late into the night. It started with the announcement of the results and awards to winners of the city competition for literary essays "One Day in the Tretyakov Gallery" that was organized by the museum together with the Moscow Education Department for senior school students. Later, at a few sites simultaneously, there was a demonstration of musical video performances and multimedia programmes created by the participants of the educational project "next.tretyakovgallery.ru": members of the youth Art Media Club demonstrated their photo and video works. Younger children were invited to the Children's Art Shop for an animation master-class. In the gallery courtyard artists from the street-art community organized a graffiti-jam session, as a team of artists painted a huge panel. The final accord by the end of the day was a concert by the group "Cabernet Deneuve”. The Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val once again demonstrated its commitment to attracting youth audiences, turning the museum into an interactive space where constantly emerging new forms of communication stimulate a "dialogue” of gallery visitors with art, artists and each other.

The main anniversary events took place from May 22 to May 25 with the participation of gallery staff, representatives of the Russian and international museum community and numerous friends of the museum. Among the honorary guests were Pavel Tretyakov's descendants:  his great-great-grand daughter Yekaterina Khokhlova and her family (descendants of Pavel Tretyakov's second daughter Alexandra), as well as Tretyakov's great-grandson Alexander Ziloti and great-great-granddaughters Mary and Grace Ziloti (descended from the elder daughter Vera). The American Tretyakovs, following the traditions of their great ancestor, donated to the gallery a water-colour by Andrei Ryabushkin, "The Old and the New” (1890-1900).

On 22 May, the gallery's anniversary public prayers were said in the local church-museum of St. Nicholas in Tolmachi with the participation of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexei II. Later, flowers and wreaths were laid on the Tretyakovs' graves in the Novodevichy cemetery.

May 23 was marked with an official event on Lavrushinsky Pereulok. The gallery received anniversary greetings from the head of the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography Mikhail Shvydkoi, the Chairman of the Culture Committee of the State Duma Iosif Kobzon, the First Deputy Mayor of Moscow Lyubov Shvetsova, and colleagues from Russian museums - Irina Antonova (the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow), Vladimir Gusev (the Russian Museum, St. Petersburg), Alexander Shkurko (the History Museum, Moscow), Alisa Aksyonova (the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum-Reserve), Wenzel Yakob (the Art and Exhibition Hall, Bonn, Germany) and others. A special gift was the performance of the "Musica Viva" chamber orchestra conducted by Alexander Rudin. The evening finished with the opening of the exhibition "The Brothers Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov. Life and Work".

On May 24 the celebration continued in the building on Krymsky Val, as guests visited the exhibitions "Masterpieces of the Musee d'Orsay”, "Russian Museums Congratulate the Tretyakov Gallery”, and the new version of the exhibition "Art of the 20th Century”. Warm and sincere greetings to the gallery were extended by the Deputy Minister of Culture and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation Andrei Busygin, the President of the Russian Academy of Arts Zurab Tsereteli, the Chairman of the Artists' Union of Russia Valentin Sidorov, the Director of the Modern Art Centre Mikhail Mindlin, the President of the American Friends of the Tretyakov Gallery Foundation Alexander Gertsman, and others. The atmosphere in the museum was maintained with the help of a jazz quartet directed by the renowned musician Igor Butman.

May 25 was marked with a grand assembly dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery held in the Hall of Columns in Moscow. Greetings from Russian President Vladimir Putin were announced by the president's advisor Yury Laptev, while those from Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov were read out by Minister of Culture and Mass Communications Andrei Sokolov. They were followed by greetings from the Mayor of Moscow, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Tretyakov Gallery Yury Luzhkov, the Director of the Hermitage and Chairman of the Russian Museum Union Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Director of the Tate Gallery (London) Sir Nicholas Serota, the Director of the Royal Academy of Arts (London) Norman Rosenthal, and the Senior Vice-President of OAO Vneshtorgbank Vasily Titov. The General Director of the Tretyakov Gallery Valentin Rodionov heartily thanked all the speakers and in his turn congratulated the staff of the gallery and guests on the anniversary.

The official ceremony was followed by a concert that featured the Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia (conductor Mark Gorenshtein), the Svyato-Nikolsky choir of the Tretyakov Gallery (director Alexei Puzakov), the ensemble Academy of Old Music (director Tatyana Grindenko), and soloists Olga Guryakova (soprano), Alexander Gindin (piano), and Maxim Fedotov (violin). This unique concert-excursion was conducted by People's Artist Sergei Shakurov. The music of different epochs and accompanying video images carried the audience over to the halls of the Tretyakov Gallery, reminded them about the founder of the museum, its masterpieces, and paid a tribute to the gallery's employees who have rendered selfless service to the museum and all of Russian art over many years. The concert ended with fireworks which were an effective finale to the jubilee celebrations.

The 150th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery is already part of history - but the jubilee year 2006 continues. We look forward to the important exhibitions - "Eric Bulatov", "Alexander Ivanov. 200th Anniversary", and "Whistler and Russia". Soon two more volumes of the academic catalogue of the Tretyakov Gallery collection will appear, thus, finishing the publication of the classic art collection, duly giving way to another extensive publication of the graphic heritage of the 20th century.

Such a glorious past and splendid traditions serve as a strong motivation in the search for new ways for the further progressive development of the Tretyakov Gallery - a modern museum, implementing an up-to-date strategy of relationships with the public, extending its boundaries and developing new forms of art promotion and interpretation. 150 years - for a museum, it's the age of maturity, readiness for new accomplishments, and further progress.

Illustrations

Head of the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography Mikhail Shvydkoi congratulates the Tretyakov Gallery on its jubilee. 23 May 2006
Head of the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography Mikhail Shvydkoi congratulates the Tretyakov Gallery on its jubilee. 23 May 2006
Director of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts Irina Antonova congratulates the Tretyakov Gallery on its jubilee. 23 May 2006
Director of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts Irina Antonova congratulates the Tretyakov Gallery on its jubilee. 23 May 2006
The exhibition 'Russian Museums Congratulate the Tretyakov Gallery'. 24 May 2006
The exhibition "Russian Museums Congratulate the Tretyakov Gallery". 24 May 2006
The exhibition “Art of the 20th Century”, experimental section of the newest trends
The exhibition “Art of the 20th Century”, experimental section of the newest trends
Animation master-class at the Artistic Workshop in the Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val. 20 May 2006
Animation master-class at the Artistic Workshop in the Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val. 20 May 2006
The exhibition 'Russian Museums Congratulate the Tretyakov Gallery'. 24 May 2006
The exhibition "Russian Museums Congratulate the Tretyakov Gallery". 24 May 2006
The festival of youth programmes at the Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val. 20 May 2006
The festival of youth programmes at the Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val. 20 May 2006
The festival of youth programmes at the Tretyakov Gallery on Krymsky Val. 20 May 2006
Tetsunori KAVANA. The Tretyakov Gallery beyond Boundaries. 2006. Installation Bamboo
Tetsunori KAVANA. The Tretyakov Gallery beyond Boundaries. 2006
Installation Bamboo
Alexander KONSTANTINOV. Roaming Walls. 2006
Alexander KONSTANTINOV. Roaming Walls. 2006
Installation. Scotch-tape on plastic
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexei II in the St. Nicholas church in Tolmachi. 22 May 2006
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexei II in the St. Nicholas church in Tolmachi. 22 May 2006
Pavel Tretyakov’s great-great-granddaughter Yekaterina Khokhlova with her son and grandson at the exhibition “The Brothers Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov. Life and Work”. 23 May 2006
Pavel Tretyakov’s great-great-granddaughter Yekaterina Khokhlova with her son and grandson at the exhibition “The Brothers Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov. Life and Work”. 23 May 2006
Pavel Tretyakov’s descendants Mary, Alexander and Grace Ziloti (USA) at the exhibition “The Brothers Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov. Life and Work”. 23 May 2006
Pavel Tretyakov’s descendants Mary, Alexander and Grace Ziloti (USA) at the exhibition “The Brothers Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov. Life and Work”. 23 May 2006
Grand assembly dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery at the Hall of Columns in Moscow. 25 May 2006
Grand assembly dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery at the Hall of Columns in Moscow. 25 May 2006
Gala concert dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery at the Hall of Columns in Moscow. 25 May 2006
Gala concert dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery at the Hall of Columns in Moscow. 25 May 2006
Gala concert dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Tretyakov Gallery at the Hall of Columns in Moscow. 25 May 2006
The grave of Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov in the Novodevichy cemetery. 22 May 2006
The grave of Pavel and Sergei Tretyakov in the Novodevichy cemetery. 22 May 2006

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