#2 2010 (27)
The late 18th century saw the appearance in Russia of the “artist-traveler” - artists who accompanied official delegations to new lands, or visited Europe on Academy fellowships, or traveled independently, always recording their impressions of their journeys. Drawing was the most direct form in which to do so: their sketches from nature - the first step towards final, finished compositions - were created using different media (pencil, quill, watercolour or pastel), and preserved intact the freshness of the artistic perception of nature, architectural landmarks, and people. An exhibition of graphic artwork from the Tretyakov Gallery collection, held from June 2009 through January 2010, featured more than 350 pieces from the late 18 th to the early 20th century (up until the 1930s), created by artists during their travels across the Russian empire and the world.
The richness and variety of the graphic art collection of the Louvre Museum always makes it of particular interest. The subject chosen for the exhibition in Moscow was the journeys of European artists - from the late 16th to the 19th centuries.
The Zentrum Paul Klee celebrates its 5 years with the exhibition "Klee meets Picasso" - an homage to two giants of art history, presenting these two imposing exponents of modern art and taking as its theme Klee's analysis of Picasso. The exhibition reveals unknown interwoven links between Klee and Picasso. It comprises over 180 works from the Zentrum Paul Klee, from numerous museums and private collections, such as famous collections in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum Picasso, Barcelona, the Museum Berggruen and the Neue National Galerie, Berlin and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The exhibition project is supported by the Picasso und Klee families.
At the beginning of autumn 1890, my grandfather, Alexander Vladimirovich Zhirkevich, a military attorney and a beginning writer, came to the resort town of Yalta for treatment. As was customary in those days, he stayed there for a while. Treatment alone was not enough for his vivacious nature; he was curious to see various places of interest in the Crimea. He admired Ai-Petri Mountain, delighted in the sea views (“Will I see you again, charming land?”), and spent a day in Sevastopol. He would visit Sevastopol again soon, with his young wife Katya, who had come from Vilna to join him. By then he and Katya had been happily married for two years and they had a little son named Seryozha4, whom they lovingly called “Gulya” at home.
The Tretyakov Gallery holds a portrait of Yevgenia Ivanovna Kirkaldi (“Lady and a Chinese Woman”) made by Ilya Mashkov in 1910. One of Mashkov’s most beautiful works, it has featured at numerous exhibitions, appearing first at a show of the “Jack of Diamonds” group in St. Petersburg in 1910, and is well known to both the general public and to art experts. However, next to nothing was known about the sitter. Today, thanks to Kirkaldi’s granddaughter Anna Kirillovna Bystrova (nee Snesareva) we have photographs and biographical information about the female student of Mashkov, who for a time was also one of his favourite models. The origin of Yevgenia’s surname is of special interest. “Kirkaldi” in fact owes its “Italian” style to the peculiar spelling of its English original: Yevgenia Kirkaldi’s ancestors came from Scotland (where a town has a similarly sounding name, Kircaldy). They were pious, Godfearing people who visited church often, and their life style gave birth to their family name — it originally sounded like “Church all day”, the root of which is the Scottish word for church, “kirk”. Later the family moved to Germany and the pronunciation changed.
“GRANY” FOUNDATION PRESENTS
The Spring 2010 exhibition “Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention” at the Jewish Museum in New York was a highlight of the city’s artistic season, revealing in particular the artist’s Jewish identity. Man Ray, later titled a “prophet of the avant-garde” in America, was born Emmanuel Radnitzky in 1890 in Pennsylvania, the eldest child in a Jewish family of Russian origin. Emmanuel was nicknamed “Manny”, and from 1912 onwards, when the Radnitzky family took the surname Ray, he began to use “Man Ray” to label himself as an artist; while never completely rejecting them, he nevertheless came to free himself from his familial roots. As Man Ray he concentrated on building up an artistic identity which found its realization in creative photography, the visual arts, film-making, poetry, literature and philosophy.
More than 60 years after his early death, the work of Arshile Gorky continues to be reassessed: the last decade alone has seen the appearance of three new biographies of a figure who is now seen as one of the key forerunners of Abstract Expressionism in America, and a “bridge” between earlier European directions and the New World in the 1940s. A major retrospective exhibition of the artist opened at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in October 2009, before transferring to Tate Modern in London over the Spring, and will close this September at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles - by any standards, an impressive “tour” for such an artistic project.
The show of 13 great paintings by Mark Rothko at the Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture in Moscow prompts me to recall my friendship with the artist. The abstractions range in date from a “multiform” of 1949, the year that Rothko arrived at his mature style, to a profoundly tragic “landscape” of 1970, the year of his death. As a young art critic, I was fortunate to witness at first hand the evolution of Rothko’s abstractions from 1956, when I first met him, to the end of his life, and to interview the artist about six times about his motivations and ideas.
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST
According to Alexander Burganov, art is perhaps one of the few types of evidence that most accurately reflects the general confusion in our souls. Intellectual, sensual, experimental, traditional... There are many options available for understanding Burganov’s art. His oeuvre should not be reviewed chronologically - chronology is irrelevant here. Nor should we concentrate on typology, because the composition of his art will appear to have more complexity than any possible classification can accommodate. Perhaps it is more appropriate to review separate works. To understand their meaning and form, and the techniques used to create them. Then we can proceed to conclusions...
ART COLLECTORS AND PATRONS
It would not be an overstatement to say that my father Mikhail Ivanovich Kurilko (1880-1969) was a legendary person. Over the course of his long life full of various adventures and reversals of fortune he accomplished a great deal. And most essentially, although in terms of pure numbers his achievements in different fields of knowledge, art and science look fairly modest, the mark he left in each is tangible; his name was quite famous in the last century, and many gratefully remember him to this day.
Every year, the Tretyakov family commemoration evenings, organised at the national picture gallery by the Pavel Tretyakov Charitable Foundation, focus on a particular theme and characters. On December 18, 2009 the celebration commemorated the 175th anniversary of Sergei Mikhailovich Tretyakov. As the tradition goes, the closing part of the ceremony was dedicated to the oldest museum employees.
In the spring of 2010 the Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow organized two exhibitions themed around the relationship of Russian artists and Central Asia. The first show - “Turkestan Avant-garde” - mostly featured pieces from the 1920s and 1930s, while the second, “Rakhmat, Tashkent!”, was timed to coincide with the 65th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War (World War II). It featured mostly paintings and drawings created by artists who, evacuated to Central Asia, lived there from 1941 to 1945.