Avant-Garde Outing Continued Again

(Text below is from the St Petersburg Gallery’s exhibition notes for Russian Revolution in Art, Russian Avant-Garde: 1910 – 1932, running in London till September 20, 2014.)

Vyacheslav Levkievsky’s painting Tramway was displayed in the 1914 exhibition N°4, a show that (Mikhail) Larionov described as uniting artists that were ‘not in any way related to each other apart from their youth, their forward-looking vision and their problem-solving approach in the realm of painting while nevertheless being like-minded in their thoughts and feelings’.

Woman with guitar.

Woman with mandolin, by Vladimir Burliuk. (1913).

Vyacheslav Levkievsky.

Tramway, by Vyacheslav Levkievsky. (1914).

Self-portrait, by Yuri Annenkov. (1960).

Self-portrait, by Yuri Annenkov. (1960).

Sketch for the painting "Battle", by Aristarkh Lentulov. (1913).

Sketch for the painting “Battle”, by Aristarkh Lentulov. (1913).

Three designs of book cover "Evreinov, Kamensky, Lentulov", by Aristarkh Lentulov. (1914).

Three designs of book cover “Evreinov, Kamensky, Lentulov”, by Aristarkh Lentulov. (1914).

The Fool's Ball, by Jean Pougni. (1915-16)

The Fool’s Ball, by Jean Pougni. (1915-16)

Design, by Gustav Klutsis. (1922).

Design, by Gustav Klutsis. (1922).

Sun, by Mikhail Matyushin. (1921).

Sun, by Mikhail Matyushin. (1921).

Avant-Garde Outing Continued

Russian Revolution in Art, Russian Avant-Garde: 1910 – 1932, runs in London till September 20, 2014 at the St Petersburg Gallery.

Marché au Minho, by Sonia Delaunay. (1916).

Marché au Minho, by Sonia Delaunay. (1916).

The Bridge 1, by Natalia Goncharova. (1916).

The Bridge 1, by Natalia Goncharova. (1916).

Vladimir Baranoff-Rosine.

Vladimir Baranoff-Rosine.

Spatial force construction, by Liubov Popova. (1921-22).

Spatial force construction, by Liubov Popova. (1921-22).

Floating: Suprematist forms, by Ilya Chashnik. (1922-23).

Floating: Suprematist forms, by Ilya Chashnik. (1922-23).

Study for cup and saucer, by Vasily Kandinsky. (1920-21).

Study for cup and saucer, by Vasily Kandinsky. (1920-21).

Study for cup and saucer, by Vasily Kandinsky. (1920-21).

Study for cup and saucer, by Vasily Kandinsky. (1920-21).

Architectonic Suprematism, by David Yakerson. (1920).

Architectonic Suprematism, by David Yakerson. (1920).

Avant-Garde Outing

The same day I saw the Popkov exhibition at Somerset House, I also nipped into the St Petersburg Gallery where there was a display of Russian avant-garde works. I took a few a pictures with my Moto G, and as you can see, the picture quality isn’t great.

The curators of this show (Russian Revolution in Art, Russian Avant-Garde: 1910 – 1932) focused on a major dichotomy of the modernist period – figurative vs non-figurative art. While artists, joined up in a multitude of movements, claimed that art was separate from the real world, they continued to investigate abstraction and rhythm, and created new colour and plastic compositions.

The exhibition has more than sixty pieces: paintings, drawings, craft and sculptures. There are suprematists and constructivists, ceramicists and non-objectivists. There is a St Petersburg circle, a Malevich circle, a Moscow circle. There even is a set of Kandinskys before that worthy legged it to Germany. The exhibition continues to September 20, 2014, so if you’re in London, do take a look.

Rayonist composition, by Alexander Bogomazov. (1914).

Rayonist composition, by Alexander Bogomazov. (1914).

Women in interior, by Sonia Delaunay. (1923).

Women in interior, by Sonia Delaunay. (1923).

Self-portrait, design for the exhibition catalogue's cover, by Sonia Delaunay. (1916).

Self-portrait, design for the exhibition catalogue’s cover, by Sonia Delaunay. (1916).

Rhythm, by Vladimir Baranov-Rossine

Rhythm, by Vladimir Baranov-Rossine

Rooftops, by Marie Vassilieff. (1915).

Rooftops, by Marie Vassilieff. (1915).

The Night Rider, by David Burliuk. (1911).

The Night Rider, by David Burliuk. (1911).

Design for cover of Exhibition Catalogue 5x5=25, by Liubov Popova. (1921).

Design for cover of Exhibition Catalogue 5×5=25, by Liubov Popova. (1921).

Construction ordinate according to different points of view, by Alexandra Exter. (1922-23).

Construction ordinate according to different points of view, by Alexandra Ekster. (1922-23).

Circles in a suprematist cross, by Ilya Chashnik. (1926).

Circles in a suprematist cross, by Ilya Chashnik. (1926).

Colour lines in vertical motion, by Ilya Chashnik. (1923-25)

Colour lines in vertical motion, by Ilya Chashnik. (1923-25)

Art Roundup – August 2014

Despite the disapproval over recent Russian activities, the Year of Russia in the UK continues apace. So if you’re in London there is much to check out. But we might as well see what’s happening elsewhere.

  1. In Jersey City, NJ, the Museum of Russian Art looks like a worthwhile visit. Their next exhibition is not till October, but check out their collections.
  2. The Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Art holds an exhibition of works by young Kyrgyz women artists. It runs from August 28 to September 19, 2014.
  3. Moscow’s Institute of Russian Realist Art has an exhibition titled Welcome: European drawings by Anatoly Kokorin (1908-87). It runs till October 26, 2014.

A short list this time. But I must mention that I managed to miss a lecture on Lazar Khidekel at the Pushkin House a few days ago. Now all I can hope is that the planned exhibitions of his works will appear next year at GRAD Gallery, as they said they were going to.

Dovlatov

I read Sergei Dovlatov’s Pushkin Hills, a brilliant, acerbic, ironic and deeply heartfelt novel, and was struck by the references to famous people and – especially – artists in it. I thought it might be an idea to create a post comprising works by the artists mentioned and possibly portraits of the people, and – even better, if I can find any – portraits of the people by those artists. So here goes:

Pavel Shchegolev (1877-1931, Pushkin expert) by E. Kiseleva. (1911)

Pavel Shchegolev (1877-1931, Pushkin expert) by E. Kiseleva. (1911)

General Mellor-Zakomelsky (1725-90) by George Dawe.

General Mellor-Zakomelsky (1725-90) by George Dawe.

Alexander Benois (1870-1960, artist and critic), by Leon Bakst. (1898)

Portrait of the poet Sergei Yesenin (1895-1925) by Lydia Charlemagne. (1955).

Portrait of the poet Sergei Yesenin (1895-1925) by Lydia Charlemagne. (1955).

Pushkin on his deathbed, by Fyodor Bruni.

Pushkin on his deathbed, by Fyodor Bruni.

Portrait of a Woman, by Ivan Kramskoy. (1883).

Alexander von Benckendorff (1782-1844, Russian general and censor) by George Dawe.

Sketch of his nanny, Arina Seryakova, in youth and old age, by Pushkin.

Demon of Metromania, or Wilhelm Küchelbecker writes poetry, by A. Illichevsky. (1815).

Portrait of Alexander Pushkin, by Orest Kiprensky. (1827).

Portrait of Alexander Pushkin, by Orest Kiprensky. (1827).

Portrait of Alexei Remizov (1877-1957, symbolist writer), by Boris Kustodiyev. (1907).

Portrait of Maria Tsvetaeva (1892-1941, poet), by Magda Nachman. (1915)

Portrait of Maria Tsvetaeva (1892-1941, poet), by Magda Nachman. (1915)

Yusupov Palace on the Moika 6

Yusupov Palace on the Moika is an indispensable item on any tourist program in St. Petersburg. There are almost thirty rooms with dazzling interiors, the finest furniture from different eras, a showcase of the lives of the pre-revolutionary Russian bourgeoisie. The palace was begun in 1770 for Count Andrei Shuvalov, but first wooden mansions for the princess Praskovya (niece of Peter I) were built on the site soon after the founding of the city. Five generations of the Yusupovs lived in the palace from 1830 to 1917. It was the jewel in the necklace of 57 palaces owned by the Yusupov clan. Rasputin was murdered in the basement of the palace in 1916. From 1925, the palace has served as a cultural centre for educators.

This has been translated from Deletant’s article Музей роскоши.

54. The Antonio Vighi hall has a large portrait of Zinaida Yusupova.

yus54.2

58. A magnificent painted ceiling in the hall.

yus58

59. Heavy bronze chandelier.

yus59

60. Two doors out of the Coronation corridor lead into the same room – the Oak lounge.

yus60

61. The walls are decorated with medieval wood ornamentation.

yus61

62. Dutch ceramic.

yus62

63. The centrepiece of the hall is a Venetian dining table; its legs are particularly impressive.

yus63

64-66. We proceed to the theatre via the Museum corridor.

yus66 yus65 yus64

67. The theatre seats 176 guests. The count’s own box is at the upper level.

yus67

68. Ceiling decoration.

yus68

69. Curtain.

yus69

70.  The great gilt theatre is a superb place to end our visit.

yus70

 

Lives of the Artists XXV

Viktor Popkov (whose exhibition I visited a few weeks ago) often visited the Arkhangelsk region of Russia. In particular, he spent time in the villages along the river Mezen, which informed some of the more introspective works of his career. It was a hard life for the villagers, not often joyous.

Memories. Widows.

Memories. Widows.

Popkov remembered an occasion when some friends came to visit the old lady with whom he was living in the Mezen region…

The women “sat there for a long time, recollecting the past, drinking home brewed beer, eating fermented cod and, forgetting all about me, gradually went back completely to that far-off time when life was just beginning for them. I lay on the bare floor by the wall and looked up at them. I must have dozed off or my concentration lapsed, and when I came to my senses I suddenly saw the whole scene clearly … I remembered my father, killed at the battlefront when he was just 35, and my mother’s unhappiness, and the whole tragic sense of what was taking place before my eyes. How was this possible! Why, for God’s sake, were they so alone? Where were their husbands and their children? Where was the happiness which should have belonged to them? Why had fate been so unkind towards them?”

(From the exhibition notes, Somerset House.)

Art Roundup – July 2014

Huzzah!

  1. The much awaited exhibition of Kazimir Malevich’s works starts this month at the Tate Modern, London. July 16 – October 26, 2014. Be there or be square.
  2. Continuing with the theme of Suprematism, Pushkin House in London organises an exhibition and panel discussion titled Building Drawings, Drawing Buildings: Lazar Khidekel, Suprematism and the Russian Avant-Garde. July 9, 2014.
  3. In Turku, Finland, at the Waino Altonen Museum of Art is an exhibition of contemporary art from St Petersburg. Titled Crystallizations, it continues till August 17, 2014.
  4. If you’re in Irkutsk, Russia, be sure to attend a commemorative exhibition of the works of Siberian artists at the Sukachev Regional Museum of Art. This year is the jubilee of several Siberian artists, including K. Pomerantsev (130 years), N. Andreyev (125 years), A. Vologdin (125 years), and the more recent I. Nesynov (85 years) and S. Sysoyev (65 years). The exhibition continues till August 10, 2014.
  5. Finally, in Moscow‘s Zurab Tsereteli Gallery is an exhibition titled Metamorphoses of the Apocalypse, featuring the works of the mountaineer, rescue-worker and artist Alexander Sementsov (1941-2005). This runs till July 13, 2014.

    Alexander Sementsov

Popkov

There was an exhibition of Viktor Popkov’s works at Somerset House recently. I managed to catch it the day before it ended. And lovely it was, too, well worth the sweaty train ride to get to it. The details below are taken from the exhibition display notes. Apologies for the poor quality images – I had forgotten to take my camera and made do with my toy smartphone.

After Stalin’s death began the Krushchev thaw, and Soviet artists began to experiment freely again. A reaction to the sterile Stalinist realism, called the Severe style, began in the 1950s, combining elements of socialist realism with self-awareness and humanity. Viktor Popkov was one of the finest exponents of this new style. The year of the Krushchev ascendancy, Popkov travelled to Bratsk where he painted his monumental canvas The Builders of Bratsk, a tribute to human effort. This was no generic piece of realism – he knew every one of his subjects and he delineated each one with care and character. This piece established his reputation.

Builders of Bratsk

Post-Stalin, Russians were able to engage with Impressionism and post-Impressionism. Popkov was influenced by the colourism of Matisse, evident in his Spring at the Depot, in which the steam beneath the wheels evoked Monet’s railway works at the Gare St Lazare.

Spring at the Depot

Spring at the Depot

Popkov was drawn to the bleakness of the Arkhangelsk region. In particular, the river Mezen drew his attention, and he dedicated an entire cycle of works to it and the tough lives of its inhabitants. Popkov saw both the poignant and quietly joyous, as for example in this canvas titled September on the Mezen, in which a family returns home after a satisfying day out collecting berries and mushrooms.

September on the Mezen

September on the Mezen

Popkov was a keen observer of human nature. He composed his portraits with little contrivance or formality; indeed, it appears his subjects were almost unaware that he was painting them; he imbued the works with unsettling perspectives. In Three Artists, he appears in the mirror, while the other characters are his friends Alexander Sorochkin and Karl Fridman. The portrait suggests the creative process: from his own contemplation through the performance (Fridman) to its completion and the subsequent relaxation (Sorochkin).

Three Artists

Three Artists

In Igor, Pavel and I, Popkov paints his fellow Severe stylists Pavel Nikonov (1930 – ) and Igor Obrosov (1930 – 2010) in foetal poses of restful sleep. Only half of his own body appears: was it an afterthought, a reticent addition as though he considered himself not quite on par with his friends?

Igor, Pavel and I

Igor, Pavel and I

This positional triumvirate is also the theme of one of his most affecting and affectionate works, Summer. July. in which a woman, a man and their child depict the strength and fragility of the family unit.

Summer. July.

Summer. July.

Popkov was a fragile, suffering individual. In 1966, he attempted suicide. Throughout his career, he explored his own emotions through his self-portraits. In Sunday, he projects optimism, sunbathing on a Moscow rooftop.

Sunday.

Sunday.

In Work Completed, Popkov is exhausted but content. Through his window you can see the Kudrinskaya Square building, designed between 1947-53 by Ashot Mndoyants and Mikhail Posokhin as a residence for Moscow’s cultural elite. Popkov’s satisfaction is mirrored by the triumphalism of the building beyond.

Work Completed.

Work Completed. (1972).

And, to round things off, here is Portrait of a Man with a Lamp Shade.

Portrait of a Man with a Lamp Shade.

Portrait of a Man with a Lamp Shade.

Yusupov Palace on the Moika 5

Yusupov Palace on the Moika is an indispensable item on any tourist program in St. Petersburg. There are almost thirty rooms with dazzling interiors, the finest furniture from different eras, a showcase of the lives of the pre-revolutionary Russian bourgeoisie. The palace was begun in 1770 for Count Andrei Shuvalov, but first wooden mansions for the princess Praskovya (niece of Peter I) were built on the site soon after the founding of the city. Five generations of the Yusupovs lived in the palace from 1830 to 1917. It was the jewel in the necklace of 57 palaces owned by the Yusupov clan. Rasputin was murdered in the basement of the palace in 1916. From 1925, the palace has served as a cultural centre for educators.

This has been translated from Deletant’s article Музей роскоши.

45. In the Dance Hall, there is an extraordinary chandelier.

yus45

46. The Nikolayev Hall hosts part of the Yusupov Picture Gallery.

yus46

47. A bust of Count Yusupov.

yus47

48. The Hall of Valuables.

yus48

56.

yus56

49.

yus49

50.

yus50

51. Long Antique hall with red walls and marble sculptures.

yus51

53. Short corridor.

yus53

55.

yus55

57.

yus57