#2 2018 (59)
MUSEUMS OF RUSSIA
Encompassing the period from the 15th to the early 20th century, the collection of Russian art is the oldest and most important part of the Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Tatarstan. It was formed over the course of a century on the basis of the private collection of Andrei Lykhachev, which was later enriched through donations and acquisitions from eminent citizens of Kazan and art connoisseurs, such as Olga Alexandrova-Heinz, Sergei Bakhrushin, Pyotr Dulsky, Yevgeny Myasnikov and others.
The exhibition “Masterpieces of Russian Graphics from the Collection of the Historical Museum. Drawings and Watercolours, 18th-19th Century” at the Tretyakov Gallery showcases the volume and quality of the graphic art held by this unique Moscow institution. It offers a comprehensive and lively overview of a vast and diverse collection, tracing the evolution of Russian graphic art from its inception in the 18th century through to the end of the 19th century.
“Why look for another like her? Moscow stands unmatched...’’ These words, chosen for the title of a memoir by the 19th century architect Vladimir Bakarev, remain a fitting expression of the Russian capital's enduring appeal.1 Today, drastic changes in the way the city looks leave some excited, others outraged, but no one indifferent. Moscow has always attracted both painters and graphic artists, who have chosen the city as their subject.
“Take Goncharova - she’s never written poetry, she’s never lived poetry, but she understands because she looks and she sees,” the poet Marina Tsvetaeva wrote in 1929, describing Natalia Goncharova’s perceptive appreciation of her poem “To the Herald”. Even though they remained in constant contact in the years 1928-1932, Tsvetaeva was not aware that her artist friend did indeed try her hand at poetry. No doubt she would have found that overlap of brush and the written word intriguing. Today, four complete notebooks and numerous separate handwritten poems are extant, and they make it clear that Goncharova used poetry as a private diary and a means of sketching fleeting impressions. It was also a mode of reflection, a way of searching for a symbol, a colour, or an atmosphere. (Sometimes Goncharova even switched into French to achieve the right tone.) Most of her poems were not dated, with the exception of those written in April and May of 1957, the year when the 76-year-old Goncharova mentioned the idea of publishing her verse in a letter to Orest Rozenfeld, although with little faith in the viability of the project: “Apart from that, there is also something I did for myself, a collection of poems that I am sure will never appear in print.”
The 120th anniversary of the birth of Vasily Chekrygin (1897-1922), the painter and graphic artist whose work many influential critics have called unique in the visual arts of the 1910s-1920s, fell on January 19 2017 Timed to coincide with that anniversary and organized as part of the project “The Tretyakov Gallery Opens Its Reserve Collections”, the show introduced the public to the Tretyakov’s collection of Chekrygin’s graphic works.
The illustrated album “The Imperial Porcelain Factory. Easter Eggs. St. Petersburg. Private Collection” was published in Spring 2017 by the GRANY Foundation. Its appearance marked the conclusion of a major academic project, one of interest for connoisseurs of decorative art and champions of Russia’s heritage alike.