Lazare Gallery has created a new website to showcase the most significant pieces from their collection of 20th century Soviet Realism. The site features beautiful high resolution images of each of the 400 pieces. The collection includes work by many of the most significant artists of the period, including Yuri Kugach, Arkady Plastov, Alexander Gerasimov, Olga Svetlichnaya, Viktor Tsyplakov and Nikita Fedosov. The website is available in both English and Russian.
The Neues Museum in Berlin is holding a major exhibition celebrating the long history of cultural exchange between Russia and Germany. A write-up in The Art Newspaper calls it, ” an obvious example of “soft” diplomacy [...] ‘powered’, as its publicity has it, by E.ON Ruhrgas, Europe’s biggest client of the Russian company, Gazprom.” Regardless of any shrewd motivations, the show promises to assemble some very significant work from major museums in both countries. It should definitely be worth a trip if you’re in the area.
Russians and Germans opens on Saturday, October 6th and will run through Sunday, January 13th 2013.
*Used with permission of the Neues Museum, Berlin.
Nailya Alexander Gallery in New York is holding an exhibition of Soviet photographs. The show charts, in 36 prints, the stylistic development of Soviet photography from Czarist times past the First Soviet Writers’ Congress in 1934, which established Socialist Realism as the official style of the USSR. Strangely, Valentina Kulagina, a photographer cited in this New Yorker write-up as a Socialist Realist, is best known for her Suprematist poster work.
Figures like Kulagina remind us that Socialist Realism had many faces. Her “Socialist Realist” photomontage may have more in common with the work of Eisenstein and Malevich than it does with the lyric landscapes of Plastov.
Geli Mikhailovich Korzhev (b.1925), one of the most influential and innovative Realists of the the last 60 years, died Monday in Moscow. A student of Sergei Gerasimov at the Surikov Institute in Moscow, Korzhev was a product of the most rigorous and vibrant years of Soviet Realism. After graduating, he became a professor at the Stroganov University of Arts and Industry, where he taught until his death. Korzhev was one of the central innovators of the Severe Style – a branch of official Soviet art that took advantage of the relaxed censorship following Stalin’s death to focus on more personal (less political) subject matter. Korzhev’s paintings of age, alcoholism, and physical and mental suffering are some of the most powerful, personal depictions of Soviet life I’ve ever seen.
Fortunately for us Americans, the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis holds some of his work. In 2007 they held a major exhibition of loaned pieces from the Russian Museum and Tretyakov Gallery, which was written up very thoroughly here.
A new exhibition of Nikolai Fechin‘s work is going up at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. A student of Ilya Repin at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, Fechin won a Prix de Rome, travelled through Europe and America and eventually immigrated in 1923. He lived briefly in New York, but spent most of his life in the US in New Mexico. There he became fascinated with Native American culture, which became a central subject in his work. In his later years his work became increasingly decorative and fanciful, but the strength of his education always shines through. Fechin is a very interesting example of an Itinerant transplanted to American soil.
Discovering 20th Century Russian Masters: Nikolai Fechin will run from August 25th to January 20th.
*image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
On July 25, Martha Kostiouk Hollier, a former member of the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow, held a free concert at the Springville Museum of Art in Springville, Utah. Originally from Ukraine, Hollier recently moved to the US.
She explained to the Daily Herald:
“My husband and I moved here at the end of April and I came across the exhibition of Russian paintings from the Soviet era online,” said Hollier. “I went to the Springville museum and was very impressed. It made me homesick and brought so many memories.”
The Springville Museum’s director, Vern Swanson, is a scholar and art-historian who became interested in Soviet art in the early 1990′s. He advised Raymond Johnson, whose collection later became the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, on Russian Realist art and travelled to Russia on buying trips. In the process he also assembled his own collection, which can now be found at the Springville Museum. Parts of the collection can be viewed online.
Silvana Gallery in Glendale, California is holding an exhibition of 21st century Russian and Ukrainian Realist art. You can see the work online, here. While some of the featured artists appear to lack the rigorous academic background of earlier generations, others have maintained some of the rigor and freshness that makes the Russian realist tradition stand out in the west.
The exhibition will run through August 18
You can read a review of the show by the Glendale News-Press here.
If you’re confused as to why a search for Ronnie Dunn, the Nashville country star, has landed you on a blog about the Russian art world, I sincerely apologize. I was surprised myself to find that Dunn not only collects Soviet era Realist painting – but that he actually helped found the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. Dunn isn’t just collecting pastoral landscapes either. In an article at The Boot, Dunn cited Geli Korzhev, practitioner of the “severe style,” as a favorite.
So how did this unlikely pairing start? In the above article, Dunn recounts his introduction to Soviet art:
“I didn’t know anything about investing. The tech bubble crashed and I ran into Tim [Tim DuBois, chief of Arista Records] one day. He had a degree in economics and he was a Vanderbilt University economics professor before he got into music. I asked him his opinion on what was going on at the time and what a good investment would be and he told me, ‘I’ll tell you something that will sound crazy to you, but I’m gonna send a guy over to you to talk about art. So, Ray [Ray Johnson, founder of the Museum of Russian Art] took me and educated me as to how he was going about collecting the Russian art. I ended up heavily investing in it.”
Unfortunately, Dunn will not be using his visibility as an advocate for a re-investigation of Soviet Realism. In a great piece by NPR’s Studio360 Dunn explains:
“I kinda don’t want the secret out, to be honest with you. I gotta go work on my pick-up, change the oil on my truck. I don’t know anything about this art!”
What a shame! Dunn’s formulaic Nashville-populist lyrics are such a great accompaniment to Soviet art! To prove that point, and potentially compromise the integrity of this blog, I’ve assembled the above video mash-up of Dunn’s “We All Bleed Red” and Soviet art. A complete list of the featured works can be found in the description at the youtube link. Enjoy!