INVESTIGATIONS AND FINDS
Brad Rosenstein, Kathryn Mederos Syssoyeva
Staging the Future. Meyerhold and Golovin’s lost production of “The Nightingale”
#4 2019 (65)
On the evening of May 30 1918, opera lovers in Petrograd gathered at the Mariinsky Theatre to attend the Russian premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Nightingale” (Le Rossignol/Solovei'). The audience dodged gunfire in the streets to make their way into this jewel box of Russia’s former Imperial Theatres, and what they witnessed on its stage that night was a painful reminder of their own collapsing social world: a satiric fairytale about a dying emperor, surrounded by fawning, buffoonish courtiers and an agitated populace. That Stravinsky’s emperor is saved, at the eleventh hour, by the healing power of art - metaphorized as the song of a nightingale - must have served only to underscore the destabilizing dread of their own recently deposed emperor’s uncertain future: imprisoned at the time of the opera’s Russian premiere, the Imperial family would be executed just six weeks later. It wasn’t merely an unfortunate play of resemblances that jarred. The highly experimental production, directed by Vsevolod Meyerhold and designed by Alexander Golovin, featuring an enormous cast which included the 14-year-old dancer Georgi Balanchivadze (George Balanchine), seemed to play deliberately on tensions between a fading past and an uncertain future, and between fiction and reality.
Natalia Goncharova - A Discovery
#2 2019 (63)
THE STORY OF A FRIENDSHIP WITH THE CZECH FUTURIST RUZENA ZATKOVA UNEARTHS TWO PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN WORKS BY THE RUSSIAN ARTIST
The discovery of two original works by Natalia Goncharova is a momentous event. As often happens in such cases, chance played a role. Working on my dissertation, devoted to the Czech artist Ruzena Zatkova, I was trying to find out what could have happened to some of her compositions that were believed to have been lost. Together with Professor Alena Pomajzlova, a Zatkova scholar who has thoroughly studied the Czech artist’s correspondence with Goncharova, I was pursuing a lead that might bring us to their present owners; that journey culminated at a private home, where we found not only Zatkova’s works but two unknown, previously unpublished gouache pieces by Goncharova as well.
Tracing the Story of a Drawing Attributed to Repin. A LITERARY-ARTISTIC LINK BETWEEN ILYA REPIN AND IVAN LEONTIEV (SHCHEGLOV) EXPLORED
#1 2019 (62)
In 2008, the Alexander Radishchev Art Museum in Saratov acquired a graphite pencil drawing, on a small sheet of yellowed paper (19 x 13.5 cm), that was catalogued as “I. Repin (?). Portrait of a Man”. It depicts a middle-aged man in pince-nez sitting at a table; he is holding a pencil, or perhaps a quill, in his right hand, and resting his chin on his left hand. The man’s head is turned to the left ever so slightly - deep in thought, he does not look at the viewer; his hair is a little dishevelled, and he seems ready to get back to his work. The artist’s signature and the date, “Ilya Repin. 90”, are in the lower right-hand corner, with “23 Apr.” inscribed below, in the centre of the sheet. An attribution of such significance clearly required confirmation by specialists: this article follows attempts to establish the provenance of the work.
#3 2018 (60)
A new investigation reveals fascinating details about the time Kuindzhi’s students spent in Crimea at their teacher’s generous invitation. “Beauty begets a painter like the earth begets grass" these words from the “Essays about Crimea" by the renowned expert on regional history and culture Yevgeny Markov fully apply to Arkhip Kuindzhi. The artist’s entire life was intimately associated with the peninsula: he was born into a family of Greek migrants from Crimea; in his youth he visited Aivazovsky’s studio in Feodosia; his landscape A Tatar Saklia [Hut] in Crimea” earned him the rank of artist; and he attempted to found a colony of artists there... The desire to share its beauty also inspired Kuindzhi to organize and finance a summer arts study trip for his students in Crimea.
New Discoveries. ABOUT THE LIFE AND WORK OF ARKHIP KUINDZHI
#3 2018 (60)
During the preparation of the new Kuindzhi exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery research clarified certain circumstances and details relating to the painter and his art, including various episodes from the life both of Kuindzhi and those who were close to him, his artistic and public engagements, and the histories of some of his compositions. Although Kuindzhi was one of the most famous and sought-after painters of his day, many gaps in his biography remain. The paucity of archival material and scarcity of surviving letters make it almost impossible to determine what the artist himself thought about the role of painting, or to clarify the characteristic features of his artistic practice. Evidently Kuindzhi, “lazy” at writing letters, preferred personal contact to such correspondence, and discussion, of the sort described in the memoirs of those who witnessed such moments, to philosophizing on the page. All this gives special value to these new pieces of information about Kuindzhi’s life and work that have been found.
№2 2005 (07)
It is rare to find British art in Russia, either in museum collections, or, still more so, those in private hands. Most of the significant works and those of less artistic value have been exhibited in two recent exhibitions – From the Banks of the Thames to the Banks of the Neva (1997) and Unforgettable Russia. Russians and Russia through the eyes of the British (1998). The latter contained over 300 works, mainly paintings, but also miniatures, drawings, engravings, objects of applied art and books. One tenth of these were exhibited and published for the first time in that show.