#4 2021 (73)

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The Charisma of Zurab Tsereteli


Aleksander Rozhin

The present century and the one preceding it have subsumed the greatest achievements and discoveries of world history. From the time of the Enlightenment to the present day, modern civilisation has made an incomparable spiritual contribution to global artistic culture. For all the wealth of national talents, each people has its own talismanic figures who embody the traditions of their ethnic group. However, on the level of wider humanity, it is rare to find figures who are outside their time, creed and ethnicity. Irrespective of aesthetic preferences, breadth of view or level of education, personalities on such a scale are defined by a combination of both their creative and social activity.



Natella Voiskounski

The exhibition “The Medici: Portraits and Politics, 1512-1570” opened at New York’s Metropolitan Museum on June 26, 2021. A truly impressive range of artefacts drawn from the collections of the Met and from other European, North American and Australian museums, as well as private collections, has been brought together in one exhibition for the first time in the museum’s 150-year history. More than 90 genuine masterpieces created by the great artists of the Italian Renaissance - from Raphael, Jacopo Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino to Benvenuto Cellini, Agnolo Bronzino and Francesco Salviati - give the impression of time turned back and allow us an incredible opportunity to indirectly make the acquaintance of various members of the Medici dynasty and the ruling elite of the era of Cosimo I de’ Medici. The exhibition is indeed “a sort of mirror of contemporary concerns,” as it is characterised by Carlo Falciani, the exhibition’s guest curator and professor of art history at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. The age of Cosimo I de’ Medici is, without doubt, as Falciani emphasises, one of the most glorious periods in the history not only of Italian, but also of European art, so that an encounter with the masterpieces of the epoch is relevant as never before, as the subjects are, in essence, our contemporaries.

"An Amazing Mixture of Good and Evil”


Dmitry Fomin

“The Brothers Karamazov” as Illustrated by Russian hmigre Artists in the 1920s-1930s

In the late 1910s, certain influential theoreticians insisted that illustrating Dostoevsky’s novels was an undertaking that made no sense and, moreover, was doomed to failure from the start. Indeed, the attempts to visually interpret the writer’s works turned out so inauspicious (with but a handful of exceptions) that they could simply be disregarded. As literary critic Nina Goncharova noted, the illustrators “were scratching the surface without any appreciation of the depth of the material. With his 20th-century consciousness, Dostoevsky was out of step with his generation, so it took some time before ... his revelations were heard and understood.” The first visual interpretations of the great writer’s works that managed to be daring and unconventional but also compelling appeared in the 1920s and early 1930s, when, enriched with avant-garde experimentation, book design was flourishing and discovering new horizons. Unsurprisingly, this complex literary material received special attention from Russian artists living outside Soviet Russia. In the official Soviet culture of that period, Dostoevsky was an objectionable, semi-banned writer; however, among emigre intellectuals, he remained a dominant influence, his personality and writings provoking heated debate and his works seen as a place where one could find answers to vital questions of the times.

The Imagery of Dostoevsky as Illustrated by Boris Nepomnyashchy


Tatiana Volodina

The Novgorod Art and Architecture Museum has a collection of drawings and book illustrations based on the prose of Fyodor Dostoevsky, including his “great pentateuch”: the novels “Crime and Punishment”, “The Idiot”, “Demons”, “The Adolescent” and “The Brothers Karamazov”. The works were created by renowned Russian artists such as Nikolai Alexeyev, Beniamin Basov, Fyodor Konstantinov, Tatiana Lebedeva, Oleg Manyukov, Yuly Perevezentsev, Tatiana Pribylovskaya, Mikhail Rojter, Yuri Seliverstov, Vsevolod Sulimo-Samuillo, Andrei Ushin and Maria Churakova. The biggest and most noteworthy subset of the collection, both in terms of size and thematically, is that of People’s Artist of the Russian Federation Boris Lvovich Nepomnyashchy.

The Meeting that Changed the World


Lydia Yenova

In November 2021, on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Fyodor Dostoevsky, the Alexander Pushkin Museum in Moscow opened the exhibition “The Meeting that Changed the World”, where the artist Viktor Apukhtin presented his works for the first time - graphic reflections on the problems elucidated in the novel “The Idiot” and their timeless relevance. Viktor Olegovich Apukhtin (b. 1952) is known as a graphic artist: he has illustrated such works as Goethe's “Faust”, “The Divine Comedy” by Dante, “Don Quixote” by Cervantes, the poems of Ali-Shir Nava'i, a collection of Uzbek folklore (Hodja Nasreddin series) and Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin” (in an edition of the novel in Uzbek). Visiting the exhibition “Letters of Heaven” at the Solzhenitsyn House for the Russian Diaspora in Moscow, Irina Antonova called Apukhtin an upholder of the tradition of advancing book illustration.

"An Endless Dialogue” Ernst Neizvestny’s Illustrations to Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”


Anna Chudetskaya

Although Ernst Neizvestny is something of a symbol of our national independent art, it would seem appropriate to look back at some of the highlights of his biography. Born in 1925, Neizvestny was part of the generation destined for conscription and dispatch to the front line at the age of 18. War was undoubtedly a formative existential experience for him: joining the conflict as a private in the Airborne Division in 1943, he was very heavily wounded and even counted as dead. After the war, it took him several years to recover his health. Later, he studied - for about two years at the Academy of Fine Arts in Riga, and then at the Surikov Institute in Moscow. In 1955, Neizvestny joined the sculpture section of the Moscow branch of the Union of Artists of the USSR and, in 1957, participated in the Festival of Youth and Students. Even when Neizvestny was still a student, he was awarded prizes for his works, with state museums purchasing some of his pieces. He often took part in exhibitions and his career as a Soviet sculptor appeared to be off to a good start. However, when he was still a student, he began to have both artistic and ideological “differences with the system of Socialist Realism”. These differences were typical for students who were former soldiers: although many were Communist Party members, their extreme wartime experiences required special means of expression outside the mainstream of officially approved art.



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