#3 2019 (64)
POINT OF VIEW
The Tretyakov Gallery’s new exhibition "Vasily Polenov”, running on Krymsky Val until February 16 2020, marks the 175th anniversary of the artist’s birth. Polenov (1844-1927) worked mainly in the final decades of the 19th century but the variety of his artistic activity establishes him as a key figure linking broader strands of Russian culture, not least through his influence as a teacher, contributing as he did to the development of the "Moscow school of painting” at the turn of the 20th century. Featuring more than 150 works drawn from 16 Russian museums as well as private collections, the exhibition brings Polenov’s monumental "Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery” from the Russian Museum to Moscow for the first time.
Given how deeply immersed Vasily Polenov was in “all the arts”, it is hard to distinguish through which form exactly he channelled his love for the beauty of architecture: his highly emotional response meant that such elements were always mutually connected. It would be fair to say, however, that Polenov is one of the most “architectural” artists: he seems unable to envision the main themes of his art - whether they are realized in landscapes, historical compositions or sketches, in his Gospel series or theatre designs - without architectural forms.
A renowned painter, who also tried his hand at architecture, music, theatre design and teaching, the range of Vasily Polenov’s artistic talents was rich and varied. All of those forms of art would come together in his work at the “Association for Furthering the Development of Rural, Factory and School Theatres”, an involvement that, no less importantly, was closely linked to his concerns as a public figure for the development of Russian society.
IMPRESSIONS FROM ABROAD
Vasily Polenov was a tireless traveller, for whom France - and its capital city in particular - would prove the destination closest to his heart: he wrote in a letter of the attractions of “dear jolly Paris and the merry French”. He visited Paris for the first time as a young man in 1867, while his final stay there was in 1911, by which time he had long earned acclaim as an artist. He lived in Paris for three years from 1872 to 1876, as the recipient of a scholarship from the Academy of Fine Arts, and returned there for particular artistic events, such as the 1889 World Fair and the Salon exhibitions of 1895.
IMPRESSIONS FROM ABROAD
Struck by the differences between the Victorian metropolis and Paris, the two Russian artists also encountered important Oriental motifs that would influence their work.
TEACHERS AND DISCIPLES
The pedagogical innovations of Pavel Chistyakov (1832-1919) played a key role in the development of realism in Russian art of the second half of the 19th century, in particular in helping it to overcome the inertia of academicism. Vasily Polenov was one of Chistyakov’s key followers in the field of artistic education, developing new models of teaching at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.
“GRANY” FOUNDATION PRESENTS
“The Patient” differs significantly from the rest of Vasily Polenov’s work. A sophisticated landscape artist who also painted a number of works on New Testament themes, Polenov was fond of open spaces and light colours - his work, with few exceptions, feels imbued with joy, with positive emotions. “The Patient” is one such exception. He worked on the painting for some 13 years, during which time it closely reflected his personal sufferings: the artist was inspired by the loss of people to whom he was very close, both to begin the piece and later to resume work on it.