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.

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58. A magnificent painted ceiling in the hall.

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59. Heavy bronze chandelier.

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

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61. The walls are decorated with medieval wood ornamentation.

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62. Dutch ceramic.

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

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

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

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68. Ceiling decoration.

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69. Curtain.

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

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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.

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

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47. A bust of Count Yusupov.

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48. The Hall of Valuables.

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56.

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49.

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50.

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

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53. Short corridor.

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55.

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57.

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Yusupov Palace on the Moika 4

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.

34. The door out of the bedroom leads to the Great Rotunda.

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35. The ceiling of the Rotunda.

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36. A nineteenth century European vase decorates the Rotunda hall.

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37. Ceramic figures of Neptune and Salacia.

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38. From the colours, it is easy to guess we are now in the Blue Lounge.

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39.

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40. The next room, unsurprisingly, is the Red Lounge!

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41. A decorative parquet floor.

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42. No surprise here – it’s the Green Lounge.

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43. Elegant fireplace of malachite mosaic.

44.

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Yusupov Palace on the Moika 3

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 crown 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.

yus2424. (Having come up the stairs from the lower floor) We immediately encounter the Gobelin guest room. From the inner windows, you can still see the stairs.

yus2525. Between the wooden interiors, large Gobelin tapestries from the 18th and 19th centuries hang on the wall.

yus2626. The tapestries depict traditional hunting scenes.

yus2727. Between the Gobelins, the walls are carved with the finest works. You might go nuts trying to wipe the dust off them.

yus2828. The next room is a boudoir with a striking ceiling of stretched fabric.

yus2929. Before the bedroom is one more small room.

yus3030. The bedroom door has a lovely lock.

yus3131. The ceremonial bedroom.

yus3232. In fact, this was not meant to be slept in. It was one of the many reception room.

yus33 33. Colourful floor lamps.

(To be continued.)

Art Roundup – June 2014

We’re smack in the middle of the Year of Russia in the UK and there is much to anticipate for the next half year. A massive Malevich retrospective at the Tate Modern, an exhibition of avant-garde theatre design at the Victoria & Albert, a look at the famous Jack of Diamonds at the Courtauld. I’m beside myself.

But before all that, we have June to get through. So what’s happening around the planet?

Cubist still life, by Liviu Hâncu.

Cubist still life, by Liviu Hancu.

  • In Chicago‘s Ukrainian National Museum, an exhibition of the works of Roman Vovk continues till June 14, 2014. Dammit, I had no idea of the existence of this museum when I lived in Chicago years ago. Dammit.
  • A personal exhibition of the works of Liviu Hâncu, a Moldovan artist, runs till June 8, 2014, at the Constantin Brancusi gallery in Chișinău, Moldova.
  • In the Riga Art Space, En Vogue, a display of Latvian and Siberian contemporary art starts June 13, 2014, and continues till August 2014 in Riga, Latvia.
  • On the Internet is the Carlos Reid Gallery where you can find, among others, the works of Alexander Ilichev.
  • And, finally, New York‘s Gallery Shchukin holds an exhibition of the works of the Dagestan-born artist and sculptor Aladdin Garunov till June 30, 2014.

Yusupov Palace on the Moika 2

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.

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12. Ahead, we have the secretariat.

yus13 13. Instead of windows, there are stained glass panes with lighting.

yus1414. From the wooden-rosette adumbrated ceiling hangs a massive crystal chandelier.

yus15 15. Next is the Turkish (billiards) room, with an unusual blue tablecloth.

yus16 16. Beyond the billiards room is perhaps the most famous room of the palace – the Mauritanian reception room, which reminds us of the oriental origins of the Yusupov family.

yus17 17. Taking pictures in the hall was somewhat stymied by the restoration work that is going on. (There are cracks in the walls from the various rebuilding works.)

yus18 18. Having finished the lower floor, let us go to the ceremonial staircase.

yus1919. The walls and ceilings are decorated with the finest stucco.

yus2020. At the bottom of the stairs are marble vases.

yus2121. In the niches are classical style sculptures.

yus2222. In the corners of the landing are gilded candelabras taller than a man.

yus2323. Dragons on the candelabras.

To be continued.