#4 2007 (17)
RUSSIA’S GOLDEN MAP
The Yaroslavl Art Museum is the successor to the art gallery that existed in the city from 1919 to 1924. After several administrative transformations the gallery was renamed the Yaroslavl Museum of Arts and became part of various museum associations. Only in 1969 did the museum gain independence from the organisation known as the Yaroslavl-Rostov Museum-Preserve. When first opened the Yaroslavl Art Museum housed an icon collection of about 1,400 items, with the majority of the collection formed in the late 1920s and 1930s.
Ivan Ivanovich Shishkin is remembered in the history of Russian art as an artist who glorified the grandeur and beauty of the nature of his homeland, and masterfully and lovingly translated into the language of painting the limitless vastness of fields with golden grain, the greatness of oak forests with their ceaseless murmur, the dense pathless thickets of woodland, every single grass-blade, the unassuming flowers of the field, and the wrinkled tree-bark on an old tree. His life in art is one of the most essential and important components of Russian landscape painting, of the history of its formation and bloom.
Admiring masterpieces by the most eminent Russian painters in the Tretyakov Gallery, visitors will not often encounter works by artists “of secondary importance” whose oeuvre was never widely known. Vasily Khudyakov’s “Armed Clash with Finnish Smugglers” and Nikolai Schilder’s “Temptation” prove two fortunate exceptions: for many decades, visitors’ tours of the Tretyakov have begun with this very pair. If Khudyakov, however, is well known to lovers of Russian art, Schilder, whose career as an artist was not altogether successful, would, most likely, have been all too soon forgotten, had his early painting not been purchased by the young Moscow collector Pavel Tretyakov. So who was this Nikolai Schilder, whose name was to become so firmly linked with the history of the Tretyakov Gallery?
This year’s project for Venice was prepared against the backdrop of the apparent failure of the 2005 Biennale. In fact, at first, the well-known American art critic and artist Robert Storr, this year’s curator, had been offered the curatorship of the previous exhibition. However, there was not enough time left for preparations, and Storr declined the offer, passing it on to Rosa Martinez. This year, Storr had more time which he used effectively to express his views most fully and comprehensively.
The exhibition of work by Richard Pare in New York’s Museum of Modern Art features one of the most immediate and tragic phenomena in the history of Soviet (and Russian) modernist architecture. The exhibition “The Lost Vanguard” highlights some 75 photographs by the architectural photographer Richard Pare, who has worked from 1993 to the present day, making eight extensive trips to Russia and the former Soviet republics and creating nearly 10,000 images to compile a timely documentation of numerous modernist structures, including the most neglected. The exhibition was made possible by the Russian Avant-garde Fund and Senator Sergei Gordeev, its founder and president.
Stylistically, most works by modern artists may be described with reference to a certain school - it could be classicism, or post-impressionism, or even some of the “trends” ... Dmitry Zhilinsky’s works are an exception: they are truly unique and cannot be identified with any of the known schools. There is no other artist working in the same manner as Zhilinsky.
A solo exhibition of paintings, watercolours and drawings by Pavel Zaltsman (1912-1985) from the funds of the Tretyakov Gallery and the collection of the artist’s family opened in October in the halls of the permanent exhibition of 20th Century Art. A disciple of Pavel Filonov, Zaltsman was never overpowered by his teacher’s influence and preserved his own artistic identity, having borrowed from Filonov the latter’s approach to the presentation of images most characteristic of the tragic collisions of the 20th century alongside basic metaphysical elements. This rather small exhibition showcased paintings, watercolours, and drawings in ink and pencil, and gave viewers an opportunity to see the main motifs of Zaltsman’s works and his creative retrospective career starting from the first professionally made drawings of the early 1920s through to the last works of the late 1980s (Zaltsman died in Alma-Ata). Pavel Zaltsman was a painter and graphic artist, as well as a cinema artist, a figure fascinated by applied Oriental art, and also an outstanding lecturer in the history of world art. Zaltsman’s prose and poetry have been unknown to the general public until recently. His literary creative experience - irrational and absurdist as it was - brought him rather close to the OBERIUT group, to Zoshchenko and sometimes even to Kafka, but even if in any case incompatible with his paintings and graphic art, it gives an opportunity to realize the inner sources of Zaltsman’s visual artistry, revealing the anti-humane nature of the 20th century.
For any Russian artist, no matter how well known, a one-man show at the State Tretyakov Gallery is a very special event. And for the Buryat sculptor Dashi Namdakov, whose numerous exhibitions in the museums and galleries of Russia, America, Europe and Asia have already won him international fame and recognition, the display of his works, sculpture, graphics and jewellery, in one of the Tretyakov’s finest rooms in Lavrushinsky Pereulok, is obviously the most important and responsible moment in his creative life. This exhibition in the country’s main national museum is well-deserved recognition of his art, as well as an assessment of his place and role in the present-day artistic life of Russia and an act of great confidence in the talent and personality of this young artist and the future that lies ahead of him.
Andrei Grositsky is an artist who belongs to a generation of innovators working in a period when realism prevailed. He received a classical training at the Surikov Institute (under the tutorship of Dmitry Mochalsky), and this academic education distinguishes him from many artists who, starting from the late 1950s, belonged to the circle of the so-called “non-official art”.
Maria Viktorovna Elkonina, by virtue of her birth into the family of the prominent artists Viktor Borisovich and Nadezhda Mikhailovna Elkonin, was pre-destined to follow the family’s calling. Through her father, who was a member of the “Four Arts” group, and through his artist friends she became acquainted with Paul Cezanne’s art. Elkonina still considers Cezanne the initiator of all of the 20th century’s artistic innovations.
The art of Alexander Sitnikov is an astonishing aggregation of emotions and thoughts that provoke in viewers’ minds complex and contradictory reactions. The meta-language of his art is predicated on the multi-polarity of the artist’s attitudes to reality which does not correspond to the master’s idealistic belief in the harmoniousness of the universe and the imperishability of the spiritual principles of religious teachings and commandments. Because he is in a state of perpetual conflict with the reality around him and with a society of double standards, the conceptual basis of the artist’s imagery is dominated by the mythological component.
A first-time viewer, looking at recent works by the Moscow artist Olga Bulgakova, would barely imagine what she made at the beginning of her creative career. In retrospect, it becomes obvious how consistently and inherently logically her overall comprehension, perception and understanding of the essence of being have evolved.
The 4th All-Russia young artists competition dedicated to the memory of Pavel Tretyakov was held shortly before the 175th anniversary of the birth of the eminent promoter of Russian culture, patron of arts and founder of the gallery of Russian art.
ART SCHOOLS OF RUSSIA
Among Russia’s educational establishments that train professionals in all kinds of art, the Moscow State Academic Art Institute named after Vasily Surikov (Surikov Institute) rightly occupies a leading position, alongside St. Petersburg’s State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture that is named after Ilya Repin.