#3 2007 (16)
RUSSIA’S GOLDEN MAP
The Bashkir Art Museum named after Mikhail Nesterov is one of Russia’s oldest. It was founded on November 7 1919, and opened for visitors on January 5 1920. The beginning of its collection and the foundation of the museum are connected with the name of the outstanding Russian artist Mikhail Nesterov (1862-1942), who was born in Ufa. Wishing to contribute to the artistic education of his fellow-countrymen, the artist donated to his native city his own collection of Russian works of art of the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, in all 102 pictures, including works by Ilya Repin, Ivan Shishkin, Vladimir Makovsky, Nikolai Yaroshenko, Vasily Polenov, Isaac Levitan, Konstantin Korovin, Alexander Golovin, Alexander Benois, Abram Arkhipov, Nikolai Roerich, and other well-known artists.
28 June 2007 saw the opening of the Mikhail Vrubel room which has been reconstructed to mark the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth and the founding of the Tretyakov Gallery. The new design of the Vrubel room is just as important an event for the museum as the major anniversary exhibitions. The room first appeared in the Tretyakov Gallery as part of the reconstruction of the main building in Lavrushinsky Pereulok which took place from 1986-1995. It was specially designed and built in order to display works by one of Russia’s most outstanding artists at the turn of the 19th century, Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910). Thanks to the generous financial support of Viktor Vekselberg it has been possible to undertake the present reconstruction of the room to celebrate the anniversary of the artist’s birth.
THE 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS
On June 15 2007 the gala opening of a grand exhibition to mark a momentous date, the 250th anniversary of the foundation of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts, took place at Moscow’s Manezh Exhibition Hall. The present-day Academy unites within its fold the best artists of Russia, and the spacious halls of the Manezh accommodated only a part of the Academy’s reserve of artwork, a huge collection that receives new additions every year.
THE 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS
In one of its halls the Unesco Headquarters in Paris has a splendid work by Miro, a mosaic wall of rare beauty and harmony with perfect composition, rhythm and colour. The exhibition of Zurab Tsereteli’s works held there during May 2007 included this room as well, a great honour and also a great challenge for an artist. To hold your own next to this masterpiece by Miro is no easy matter. And in general to exhibit your works in Paris, where everything, Notre Dame and the Sainte Chapelle, the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, the memorial museums of Rodin and Picasso and the very town itselfvibrate with art, and where all periods and styles and all major artists are present. You have the feeling that any moment now Degas, Van Gogh, Cezanne or Matisse might come and sit down at your table. So to be counted one of their equals is something very few modern artists could ever hope for.
ART COLLECTORS AND PATRONS
Over the last ten years the Tretyakov Gallery has been displaying drawings from its collections at temporary exhibitions. The exhibition programme has had a continuous focus on the history of the collection of 18th-20th century drawings. The gallery’s 20th exhibition in the series reflects a new stage in the history of its collection - namely, the significant enlargement of the collection in the first decade following the Bolshevik revolution due to new acquisitions from private Moscow collections.
The recent rise of criminal activity involving items of cultural value has brought to the fore issues around the retrieval of stolen and illegally exported cultural relics, as well as the restoration of rights to objets d’art, lost at different times and for different reasons.
The exhibition series “The Great Collections” (Die gros- sen Sammlungen) is a highlight of the exhibition programme of the Art and Exhibition Hall of Bonn in Germany. It offers German viewers a chance to see part of the collections of some of the outstanding museums of the world, among them: in 1992 - the Museum of Modern Art in New York; in 1995 - the Museo Archeologico Nazi- onale from Naples; in 1997 - the Hermitage in St. Petersburg; in 1998 - the Musee du Petit Palais in Paris; in 1999 - the Prado in Madrid; in 2003 - the Imperial Collection from the National Palace Museum in Taipei, and others. Each exhibition was exclusively prepared for the Bonn exhibition halls and focused on the substantial highlights of each respective collection.
“Crossroads: Modernism in Ukraine, 1910-1930”, the first major exhibition of early 20th century Ukrainian art was shown in Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Centre, and in New York at the new Ukrainian Museum. Featuring the best of high modernism from Ukraine, the exhibition included more than 70 rarely seen works by 21 Ukrainian artists; each of the works was shown for the first time in the United States. The avant-garde, art nouveau, impressionism, expressionism, futurism and constructivism movements were presented in a new light. Americans - the general public and art critics alike - were equally enthusiastic about the exhibition.
Richard Serra is undeniably a great name in contemporary art. Each of his installations or exhibitions is considered a major artistic event. Serra’s sculpture is associated with a certain laconism in form, as well as minimal plastic means aimed to reach the maximum of expression. His multi-tone self-supporting steel installations are the result of a new sculptural mentality and reveal a novel semantics in sculpture.
The MZM Museumszentrum Mistelbach opened on 24 May 2007 with the presentation of the Hermann Nitsch Museum, the largest museum in Austria dedicated to a single artist. The premiere show presented a comprehensive overview of the work of Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch in an exhibition space measuring 2,600 square meters, with a gallery complex with a total length of 61 meters.
This year has proved something of a confirmation for Art Moscow, the only international contemporary art fair in Russia: According to Vasily Bichkov, Director of the Expo-Park Company, this is the first time when the event was actually profitable (last year, the organizers hardly broke even, managing only to cover expenses, while earlier Art Moscow was expressly unprofitable). The officially announced profit was almost $10 million, with about half of the money coming from actual sales and the other half the price of reserved pieces.
ARTISTS ON ARTISTS
I met Konstantin Mikhailovich Kuzginov in the early 1960s at the home of our mutual acquaintance, the artist Igor Gryuntal. Introducing Kostya to me, Gryuntal said, "And here is the author of the famous Festival Daisy..." I looked with interest at the artist who had designed the popular symbol of the Moscow World Youth and Students Festival in 1957. Athletic and forceful as he was, Kostya resembled Kirill Stolyarov, the then popular Soviet movie star, even though Kostya was somewhat shorter than him.
POINT OF VIEW
The contemporary critics and art studies focusing on so-called “actual art” tend to employ a very subjective and limiting approach towards the legacy of 20th century Russian artistic culture. The nature of such an approach raises many questions for the theorists and historians of the new “generation”. On the one hand, they strive for a conceptual formal analysis and assessment of the trends and events of the past and, on the other, they often use quite opposite means and methods of studying culture by relying on social and political aspects in research of the artistic process, and thus excluding its specific characteristics, uniqueness and self-sufficiency.