#4 2004 (05)
RUSSIA’S GOLDEN MAP
THE STORY OF THE IRKUTSK COLLECTION BEGAN WITH THE PICTURE GALLERY OF VLADIMIR PLATONOVICH SUKACHOV (1849-1920). HE WAS A TRUE SON OF HIS TIMES: A WEALTHYPHILANTHROPIST AND A PROMINENT FIGURE IN RUSSIAN SOCIETY. HIS MOTHER CAME FROM A FAMOUS FAMILY OF SIBERIAN MERCHANTS, THE TRAPEZNIKOVS WHO HAD LONG BEEN INTERESTED IN PAINTING, ALREADY IN THE 18TH CENTURY STARTING TO ORDER PORTRAITS FOR THE FAMILY COLLECTION: IT INCLUDED WORKS BY THEIR PRIVATE PAINTER N.A.KLIMOV, THE DECEMBRIST N.A.BESTUZHEV, THE LOCAL ARTIST M.I.PESKOV AND OTHERS. VLADIMIR SUKACHOV’S UNCLE, A.K.TRAPEZNIKOV STUDIED PAINTING WITH PAVEL TRETYAKOV’S CLOSE FRIEND, THE ARTIST A.G.GORAVSKYFROM ST. PETERSBURG.
"CAPTURED BY BEAUTY: RUSSIAN ACADEMIC AND SALON ART FROM 1830 TO 1910" IS THE TITLE OF THE EXHIBITION SCHEDULED TO TAKE PLACE IN THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY FROM OCTOBER 2004 THROUGH TO JANUARY 2005. THIS LARGE- SCALE PROJECT WILL CONSIST OF ABOUT 500 WORKS OF VARIOUS GENRES, INCLUDING PAINTING, GRAPHICS AND SCULPTURE, AS WELL AS MANY POSTERS, EXAMPLES OF ADVERTISING ART, POSTCARDS, PHOTOGRAPHS, FURNITURE, PORCELAIN, BRONZE AND GLASS AND VARIOUS LACQUER WORKS, COSTUMES AND EXQUISITE PIECES OF JEWELLERY. THE RANGE OF GENRES IS MATCHED BY THE VARIETY OF THE ARTISTS REPRESENTED, RANGING FROM THE FAMOUS TO THE VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN. BESIDES THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY, A NUMBER OF OTHER INSTITUTIONS, SUCH AS THE STATE RUSSIAN MUSEUM FROM ST. PETERSBURG, THE HISTORICAL MUSEUM AND THE MUSEUM OF DECORATIVE AND APPLIED ARTS FROM MOSCOW, AND MUSEUM COLLECTIONS FROM OMSK, TAGANROG, PERM, SERPUKHOV, PERESLAVL-ZALESSKY, NIZHNY-NOVGOROD, SAMARA AND MINSK, HAVE ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO THE PROJECT, AS HAVE PRIVATE COLLECTORS. A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF THE WORKS EXHIBITED WILL BE SHOWN FOR THE FIRST TIME.
THE ART OF BORIS KUSTODIEV APPEARS, paradoxically; TO APPEAL BOTH TO THE CASUAL VIEWER AND TO THE EXPERIENCED ART SPECIALIST. IN HIS PAINTINGS, KUSTODIEV CREATES A BEAUTIFUL UTOPIA, A LAND OF POPULAR WHIM AND FOLK FANTASY. HIS WORLD IS FILLED WITH IMAGES THAT ARE SO VIVID AND SO CONVINCING THAT THEY HAVE BECOME A PART OF EVERYDAY LANGUAGE: WE SPEAK OF "KUSTODIEV BEAUTIES", "KUSTODIEV FAIRS" AND "KUSTODIEV WINTERS". HIS ART WAS LIKE THE FINAL BURST OF A GLORIOUS SUNSET SPLENDOUR OVER A RUSSIA WHICH WAS DISAPPEARING FAST, NEVER TO RETURN. ON THE THRESHOLD OF THE AVANT- GARDE 1910s, KUSTODIEV WAS ABLE TO FIND HIS OWN UNIQUE AND DISTINCTIVE STYLE, BRINGING THE PERFECTION OF NEO-CLASSICAL FORM TO TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY RUSSIAN ROMANTIC ART. THE EXHIBITION ORGANISED BY THE RUSSIAN MUSEUM TO CELEBRATE THE 125th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARTIST'S BIRTH CLEARLY SHOWS KUSTODIEV'S TALENT AS A SCULPTOR, THEATRICAL DESIGNER AND GRAPHIC ARTIST. ITS TRANSFER TO THE TRETYAKOV GALLERY ALTERED THE EXHIBITION ONLY A LITTLE, ALLOWING THE MAIN THEME OF KUSTODIEV'S WORK TO EMERGE. WE WITNESS HIS ONGOING DIALOGUE WITH RUSSIAN CULTURAL TRADITIONS, THE LEGACY OF THE OLD MASTERS AND THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN CONTEMPORARY ART.
STEPPING INTO THE TWILIGHT OF A LARGE ROOM, IN WHICH THE ONLY ILLUMINATION COMES FROM SMALL SHINING WINDOWS, THE VIEWER INEVITABLY FEELS A SENSATION OF BEING INVITED INTO ANOTHER, UNEARTHLY, WORLD. "ANOTHER" IT MAY INDEED BE -BUT IN NO WAY AN UNEARTHLY ONE. THE WINDOWS CONCERNED ARE CHALK AND PEN SKETCHES WHICH ILLUSTRATE "MICHELANGELO UND SEINE ZEIT" (MICHELANGELO AND HIS TIME), NOW ON DISPLAY IN THE ALBERTINA MUSEUM IN VIENNA. THE OLD SHEETS OF PAPER IN SIMPLE CLASSICAL FRAMES SEEM TO SHINE FROM WITHIN WITH SOME MAGICAL, UNREAL LIGHT. THEY ARE KNOWN TO BEAR THE TOUCH OF THE HANDS OF MANY OF THE GREATEST ARTISTS OF THE PAST: MICHELANGELO, RAPHAEL, LEONARDO DA VINCI AND OTHERS. IT IS THE INSPIRATION, NAME AND PERSONALITY OF EACH OF THEM THAT IS EVIDENT IN THESE ANTIQUE DRAWINGS MARKED WITH THE ARTIST'S PASSION, TENDERNESS OR DESPAIR. LABOURING ON THOSE SHEETS, THE MASTERS CONCERNED MAY HAVE BEEN CONVERSING WITH GOD - AND THE VIEWER FEELS IN SOME WAY, ALMOST INVOLUNTARILY, THAT THEIR HOLY MURMURS CAN BE OVERHEARD.
The very concept of American art in the 20th century brings a splash of emotions associated with the likes of Jackson Pollock, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and George Segal - the masters of abstract impressionism, pop-art and hyper-realism. However, American art in its full diversity is not limited to these great names: to my mind, Edward Hopper and } Andrew Wyeth are the most "American" - in both spirit and individualism - of the artists of the past century. The retrospective exhibition of Edward Hopper (1882-1967) which will run until October 2004 in the Tate Modern Gallery, London, is another chance to raise such intuitive speculations.
To attempt to write anything new, or at least original, about Salvador Dali in 2004, the centenary of his birth, when there have been, and will be written hundreds of pages on his art is a daunting prospect. A genius of both creativity and the creative "escapade", Salvador Dali has become a personification of the stressful 20th century. His name is known to millions, although many of them have never seen a piece of his art - whether a painting or a graphic work, a sculpture or installation, a piece of furniture or jewellery... Nevertheless Dali remains a puzzle, a figure who puzzles viewers, art critics and all those interested in his turbulent life and stressfully shocking art. Dali was consequent in his inconsequence, a vagabond investigating new paths for contemporary art, which would then be taken on by future generations of artists. His boundless imagination led him to both nowhere and everywhere; his vigour made the creative process nonstop; his inner freedom and emancipation which reached the edge of dissoluteness allowed him to respond to any artistic challenge. Dali was like a Midas, whose touch made everything art and gold.
POINTS OF VIEW
"Historical Surrealism" is a unique phenomenon in the art and culture of the 20th century. It strived to create a new mythology, and managed to change and broaden both human perceptive abilities and forms; its impact on evolutionary changes in art cannot be overestimated, while it anticipated the emergence of both the "trans-avant-garde" and the most recent post-modernist movements. The recorded history of surrealism lies in the period from 1924 to 1968: from the "Bureau of Surrealistic Research" and the publication of André Breton’s "Surrealist Manifesto", to the "Prague Spring" – at least that is how it is defined by Alain and Odette Virmaux.
ART COLLECTORS AND PATRONS
THIS REMARKABLE STORY PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF SEVERAL RUSSIANS, WHO SPENT MOST OF THEIR LIFE ABROAD BUT RETAINED THEIR SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR MOTHERLAND AND LOVE OF ITS CULTURE.
The exhibition "Drugoe Iskusstvo" (The Other Art, 1988) in the Tretyakov Gallery had an unprecedented impact on the consciousness not only of the general public, but also on the country’s whole artistic community. The SocialistRealist artists, headed by the academicians and correspondent members of the Soviet Academy of Arts, were shocked by the very fact of such a massive and irrevocable "intrusion" by nonconformist artists into their territory – a location that had been used by them, and only them, for more than half a century. The "intruders" organized their own schools, working out their new stylistic methods, using their own languages, and building another ontological picture of the world.
Viktor Bondarenko, Konstantin Khudyakov and Roman Bagdasarov’s project "Deisis" has two particularly striking features. First of all, the form they have chosen to express their idea establishes no boundaries between the artists and viewers: the language of the Iconostasis can clearly be understood by all. This is a rare factor today, when few artists address "the city and the world", preferring communication with their own kind. This may be why so many separate cultures abound today: youth culture, the "A-list" set, the worlds of gender, popculture, hip-hop culture, gay culture… The naturally portrayed figures of "Deisis" and their emotions are modelled with all the clarity that modern computer graphics can offer. Their visual form is more accessible to any – even the least sophisticated – viewer than classical realist art.
The new exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery’s Krymsky Val space, "Play – A Serious Matter", is an unusual one for any art gallery. But then the wonderful Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren always believed that play is vital for developing a child’s personality, communication skills and creative imagination. Lindgren not only wrote books for children; she was also one of Sweden’s key opinion-makers in areas such as tax policy, the use of nuclear energy, the rights of children and the humane treatment of animals.
This year the Tretyakov Gallery can boast of a new addition to its Vrubel collection, which is known as one of the most representative in the world. The new acquisition is "Portrait of Nastya Vrubel" – Nastya being the shortened, affectionate name for Anastasia, who was the painter’s half-sister. It had been a family treasure trad-itionally passed on from mother to daughter, and was acquired by the Gallery from Anastasia’s granddaughter; the work is printed here for the first time.
THE ORGANIZERS OF THE EXHIBITION WHICH OPENED IN JANUARY 2004 IN THE SALONIKI MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART HAD TWO MAJOR TASKS. FIRST, THEY WERE TO PRESENT TO THE WORLD THE WHOLE VARIETY OF SOLOMON NIKRITIN’S ART; ADDITIONALLY, THEY WERE TO COLLECT FOR THE TIME OF THE EXHIBITION ALL THE SEPARATE WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF GEORGI KOSTAKIS, WHO HAD BEEN THE ARTIST’S MAJOR PATRON.
LAST YEAR, THE HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL EXHIBITION ILJA REPIN, AUF DER SUCHE NACH RUSSLAND (ILYA REPIN. IN SEARCH OF RUSSIA) GAVE THE GERMAN PUBLIC A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO ENJOY A NUMBER OF REPINS WORKS FROM THE COLLECTIONS OF RUSSIAN NATIONAL MUSEUMS. THE EXHIBITION INCLUDED FIVE PAINTINGS FROM THE CENTRAL STATE MUSEUM OF MODERN RUSSIAN HISTORY. AMONG THEM WAS REPINS UNIQUE PORTRAIT OF THE FAMOUS RUSSIAN POLITICIAN AND LAWYER ALEXANDER KERENSKY (1881-1970), LISTED IN THE MUSEUMS MAIN INVENTORY UNDER NO. 12489/4.
The exhibition of works of young Russian artists held in the "Engineer Wing” of the Tretyakov Gallery was a major event in the lives of each of its 46 participants, the finalists of the competition organized by the "Tretyakov Gallery" magazine and the Tretyakov Gallery; the exhibition was honoured with the name of the gallery's founder. The idea of recreating forgotten traditions of co-operation with young representatives of national culture was implemented in this national competition, which combined the work of painters, graphic artists and sculptors. There is a strong sense that all ties with the younger generation have been broken, co-operation destroyed and co-ordination disregarded: there are no more special committees directed towards the young from the Ministry of Culture, the Academy of Arts, or the Unions of Artists; no more discussions ofmajor exhibitions of contemporary art among professionals and experts. Thus the "First All-Russia Competition of Young Artists" proved an initial step in the re-constitution of public and state forms to support young talents, to establish an atmosphere of genuine competition, and to raise professional levels of culture and mastery. It has to be admitted that for many years such problems were not considered the responsibility of the respected institutions.
London’s National Portrait Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect and exhibit portraits of outstanding British individuals, whose contribution to the nation’s history and culture is beyond doubt. The museum’s collection now includes more than 12,000 works with paintings, sculptures, graphic works and photography. Its remarkable collection is constantly being enlarged, one of a number of ways being the "Portrait Award", well-known both in Britain and internationally.