Lyudmila Markina
“The Spark of Peter the Great”

The exhibition “Tsarina Elizabeth and Moscow”, running at the Tretyakov Gallery from December 9 2010 to March 27 2011, commemorates the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Russian empress. Staged in the Engineering Building on Lavrushinsky lane, it concludes a trio of shows that have run there over many years: the first project, “Catherine the Great and Moscow” (at the Krymsky Val building), took place in 1998. That was a pioneering effort to introduce to the public the artefacts of “imperial” history and culture, which were kept away from the public eye under Soviet rule. The ties between the great female ruler of Russia and Moscow had never before been the subject of careful study. A year later the exhibition “Peter the Great and Moscow” opened in the Engineering Building, marking the 300th anniversary of the Grand Embassy of Peter I.

Svetlana Usacheva
An Artist of Hearth and Home

2010 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ivan Fomich Khrutsky, the Belarussian/Russian painter of the first half of the 19th century, a well-known master of the still-life genre with “fruit and flowers”. In December 2010-January 2011 the Tretyakov Gallery hosted Khrutskyʼs anniversary exhibition featuring works from the Tretyakov Gallery and the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus. The show was one of the most important events to round off the Year of Culture of the Republic of Belarus in the Russian Federation.

Lyudmila Markina
Romantic Russia

In the very heart of Paris, in the neighbourhood of New Athens, not far from the noisy and notorious Moulin Rouge cabaret, there is a Museum of Romantic Life (Musée de la Vie Romantique). A quiet patio on Rue Chaptal shelters an elegant mansion with a small garden closely planted with sweet-smelling roses and blooming mallows. The house was home to the Dutch artist Ary Scheffer1, who settled here after the July Revolution of 1830.

Lev Platonov
The Pre-Raphaelites:
The Last Paladins of the Victorian Era

InArtis Gallery presented a show of 34 engravings created by the famous British Pre-Raphaelite artists Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris from October 14 through December 14 2010 in the Old English Courtyard in Moscow. The exhibition was noteworthy not only because it showcased a school rarely seen in Moscow – in Russia exhibitions of the Pre-Raphaelitesʼ artwork are rare – but also because viewers had the chance to see a collection of engravings that for a long time were believed to have been lost forever.

Lydia Iovleva
On Levitan’s Landscapes and the Levitan Exhibition

“Levitan's landscape” is a term firmly ingrained both in art scholarship and in the minds of many art lovers. A “Levitan landscape” is different from an “Ivan Shishkin landscape” or even landscapes by Alexei Savrasov or Vasily Polenov, although it is very close to the last ones. Usually, a “Levitan landscape” is a simple image of an almost always deserted natural environment – a creek, a narrow pathway, groves rolling on into the depth of the picture in a somewhat diagonal direction, or copses. It is set in different seasons, except (largely) winter – Levitan's pieces almost never feature images of snowy winter – and usually depicts a transitional season or summer; there are blue horizons and a high limitless sky with a distinct life of its own, beyond the mental grasp of human beings.

Lydia Torstensen
Master of Pastel Art

Levitan started using pastel sticks very early on. His youthful pieces such as the images of the little girls Nadya Yakovleva (1880, Russian Museum) and Lena Nenarokova (1880, Tretyakov Gallery) already have delicate pastel inclusions. However, it was not before the 1890s that Levitan‘s pastel explorations truly reached its creative peak. Among the pastels currently known and dated by the artist himself, “Storm” (1890, a private collection, Moscow) is the earliest. Since 1890, Levitan created a number of remarkable pieces which established him as one of the premier masters of pastel art of the late 19 th century.

Natalya Tolstaya
Marianne Werefkin. The Woman and the Artist

The exhibition “Russian Artists Abroad. Marianne Werefkin (1860 –1938)”, opening at the Tretyakov Gallery, is a part of the Ticino Year in Russia – the year dedicated to the Swiss canton of Ticino in Russia - and is timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth. Regrettably, the general public in Russia knows little about Marianne Werefkin, although she is a fascinating personality in many respects. Some viewers will be more interested in her evolution as an artist – from her “Peredvizhniki”-style realism, through symbolism and other schools that nearly all artists of her age engaged with, towards a very distinctive, idiosyncratic expressionism. Others will probably take an interest in her life story, so unusual for a 19th-century woman, including its many dramatic turns of fate, and resolute decisions taken in the course of it.

Catherine Loisel
Discovering the World

Drawings of the French masters from the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay in the Tretyakov Gallery. 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.

Irving Sandler
Remembering Mark Rothko

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.

Vladimir Korenyako
Russian Visual Art and Central Asia: Impact and Response

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.

Eleonora Paston
“His distinctiveness… is intact”

The solo show of Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov, titled “Artist the Sorcerer”, dedicated to the artist´s 160th anniversary, is being held at the Tretyakov Gallery in the “Year of France in Russia”, and its mirror event, “Russia in France”. Although unplanned, this overlap is extremely natural. It would be hard to find another artist of the second half of the 19th-the early 20th centuries whose oeuvre reflects Russo-French connections as naturally as Pokhitonov.

Vitaly Mishin
Picasso and Russia

From February 26 through May 23 the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts hosts an exhibition of Pablo Picasso, featuring works from the Musée Picasso in Paris; from June through September the exhibition will be held in St. Petersburg at the Hermitage. Of all the Picasso shows held in Russia during at least the last 50 years, the 2010 exhibition is the biggest and most representative. It is a part of the cultural programme dedicated to the “Year of France in Russia”. Other features, too, lend to this event a certain “Russian touch”: the assortment of pictures on display includes several pieces from the Pushkin Museum; the show also has a whole section devoted to Sergei Diaghilev´s “Ballets Russes”, and presents archival documents relating to the friendship between Picasso and Ilya Ehrenbourg. This article provides only highlights of the long history of the relationship between Picasso and Russia.




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