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1 march 2019Facebook
The «Saints, queens and workers. Images of women in Russian art» (26 February 2019 – 27 February 2020) one-year exhibition comprises circa 180 works of art of the 15th – 20th centuries from the collection of the State Russian Museum: painting, sculpture, icons, costumes. Masterpieces by Vladimir Borovikovsky, Alexei Venetsianov, Pavel Fedotov, Ivan Kramskoi, Vasily Surikov, Alexander Golovin, Boris Kustodiev, Pyotr Konchalovsky and many other famous artists will be on display.
Visitors will see the evolution of female images in Russian art: first depictions of saints and martyrs in icons and frescoes, magnificent gala portraits of Russian Empresses, images of peasant women and portraits of clever and independent Russian women who enthusiastically mastered new forms of activity and ultimately changing their own futures and the future of Russia. The art of the second half of the 19th clearly outlines the circle of a woman’s life and analyses its main stages: childhood and youth, betrothal and marriage, the birth of children and loss of a husband, widowhood, nurturing grandchildren, and sometimes a lonely old age. A woman’s work in all its variety was at that time something for close attention, whether that of a seamstress or an embroiderer, a laundress or a delivery girl.
Female images in Russian fine arts make an obvious parallel to Russian literary characters and subjects. The women’s question was becoming more and more relevant, especially when it came to matters involving education and work, motherhood and family law. It was these problems that lay behind novels by Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev and Nikolai Chernyshevsky. Society did not remain indifferent to the advocacy of women’s freedom. The Bestuzhev Courses, which were organized in St Petersburg in 1878 at the initiative of women themselves, gave an impulse to the development of women’s education. After the February Revolution of 1917 they gained equal rights with men. Meanwhile, in the late 19th – early 20th centuries artists still focused their attention on a woman’s external appearance, and above all on an unusual, and sometimes exotic, beauty and intricate attire. The female portrait became one of the leading genres in the fine arts, and – to quote the critics – artists “searched for ‘beauty that was not beautiful’”. What came to be valued most of all was individuality, or in other words personality. The new power was rather skeptical about nudity in art and it showed in the 1920-40s. Despite significant changes in THE late 1950s nudity did not fit easily into the canons of Socialist Realism and was seen as a real challenge even in the 1970s. The image of the Russian woman still remained contradictory and difficult to grasp in the paintings of the 1970-80s concluding the exposition.
The “Female Artists in Russian Art. At the intersection of traditions and avant-garde” (26 February – 8 September 2020) exhibition represents the contribution of women in the development of Russian art. 142 items of fine art, sculpture, decorative and applied art of the 19th – 21st centuries are shown there. Among the exhibits are works by famous Russian female artists - Marie Bashkirtseff, Zinaida Serebryakova, Natalia Goncharova, Anna Golubkina, Olga Rozanova and Vera Mukhina.
Peter the Great started the era that transformed all aspects of life in Russia; it gave an impulse to the development of the country’s secular art. The Imperial Academy of Arts (Academy of the Three Noblest Arts), which was founded in St Petersburg in 1757, did not accept women until the mid-1840s. Many children of the gentry and aristocracy learnt how to paint when they were young, but it was considered shameful to study art professionally. Incidentally, Flowers, a pastel still life by the Russian Empress herself, Marie Feodorovna, in the style of 17th-century Dutch art has survived until the present day and is represented at the exhibition. From 1842 there was a special Female Department at the St Petersburg School of Drawing for Extern Students.
Something new was seen in the 1870s–1880s: women were dissatisfied with their unequal position in Russian society and they strove to be educated abroad. Works of Marie Bashkirtseff, the female artist who became famous in artistic circles thanks to her participation in exhibitions at the Paris Salon, are also presented at the exposition.
She painted scenes from contemporary life, religious compositions and landscapes that were delicate in mood, but it was in portraiture that her independent character, her sensitive attitude towards nature and her concern for the question of equality for women were best reflected. The artist became famous in France and received recognition in Russia only after her death.
The 1910s, and especially their second half have provided a complex picture of the development of the country’s art and the active role that women played in the process. The various freedoms that had been put forward as achievements of the Revolution were taken up by feminists, whose significance was important even by the end of the 19th century. A galaxy of female artists, educated and with allround talents, appeared in Russian art. For instance, Olga Rozanova, Nadezhda Lermontova, Lyubov Popova – painters and graphic artists, poetesses, theatre and festival decorators, tutors, fashion and textile designers. Natalia Goncharova was inventive in her quest for a new artistic language, and supported Mikhail Larionov, the real leader of Russian avant-garde artists, in all his initiatives. Nadezhda Udaltsova and Alexandra Exter shone brilliantly at lot of avant-garde exhibitions.
It was essentially female artists who initiated the creation of the Union of Youth, Russia’s first society of avant-garde artists (1910).
Neoclassical trends were just as characteristic a feature of Russian art in the 1910s as was the development of avant-garde quests. Zinaida Serebryakova was a brilliant representative of this trend, and it was precisely in the 1910s that she created her finest pictures. The exhibition comprises works of former students of Elizaveta Zvantseva’s art school in St Petersburg - Nadezhda Lermontova, Vera Zhukova and Sofya Dymshits-Tolstaya.
The development of sculpture in the 1920s was just as complex as the previous decade. Artists carried on ceaselessly creating, despite the hunger and destruction that reigned in the country during the Civil War. Alongside intrinsically valuable experiments in the search for forms, artists now worked a lot on the image of the “new man” and on social, industrial and agricultural themes. In the early 1920s non-objective art was still attractive for young people, especially for students of Kazimir Malevich and Mikhail Matiushin. Among these were the Ender sisters – Xenia and Maria.
Like a number of her Constructivist colleagues, Lyubov Popova turned away from easel art in the early 1920s in favour of the “productive” creation of things that were useful to citizens of a socialist society. She worked a lot for the theatre, in printing, and in the textile industry in the field of clothing design. The designs that she created for women’s dresses, which combined various textures and images, reflected the experience of Popova the avant-garde artist. Among interesting achievements in contemporary Soviet fashion were designs by Nadezhda Lamanova, Alexandra Exter and Vera Mukhina.
During the 1930s female artists shared the fate of their male colleagues. The new authorities liked naturalistic realism, and in a number of instances the idealising realism of Neoclassicism. Dissent was persecuted by officials from the Union of Artists, and sometimes by the authorities.
Post-Suprematist basis is also a feature of the expressive and emotionally active painting, using pure colours, that Maria Kazanskaya employed in a series of selfportraits. Loneliness and the fragility of an inner world eaten away by introspection can be sensed in works of Tatyana Glebova, a disciple of the brilliant Pavel Filonov. A landscape that she created, can be seen as a symbol of the harsh times that had come
Bold experiments had started in the field of sculpture in the 1950-60-s, even before the advent of perestroika: Maria Elkonina created the non-objective religious triptych Composition with Crosses which is represented at the exhibition. But the high time of Nonconformist art began later.
In the 1980s–1990s women sculptors, painters and graphic artists were prominent in artistic unions, at exhibitions and in publications. Natalya Nesterova and Olga Bulgakova were noted for the metaphorical nature of their works. While working a lot as a painter, Tatyana Nazarenko simultaneously produced a whole series of compositions involving painting. A series of works called Russian Design by Olga Florenskaya, a cofounder of the St Petersburg art group Mitki, appeared in the early-1990s.
In the 21st century the number of women participating in the artistic process in Russia has certainly not fallen. As before, they are professionally involved in painting, sculpture, graphic art, photography and other art forms. The range of subjects, styles and manners that female artists use in today’s Russia is extremely varied. Their works are often seen in exhibition spaces, both in their own country and abroad.
The «Graphic Works by Russian Women Artists from the Collection of Krystyna Gmurzynska» (26 February 2019 – 8 September 2020) exhibition in the Malaga branch of the State Russian Museum is a new exposition from the “Visiting the Russian Museum” cycle. It comprises 26 works of art of the prominent Russian women artists of the 1900-30s Elena Guro, Sonia Delaunay, Olga Rozanova, Lyubov Popova, Nadezhda Udaltsova, Natalia Goncharova, Alexandra Exter.
Antonina Gmurzynska (1926–1986) was among the first Western collector to show a deep and serious interest in the Russian art of the first decades of the 20th century, and her
collection was very well known to art connoisseurs. Items from it have often been exhibited in various countries, and published in books, catalogues and albums.
For several decades now Krystyna Gmurzynska, daughter of Antonina Gmurzynska, has been continuing and developing what her mother had started, and during this time the collection has, of course, changed. Some names and works that were unknown in the 1950s–1970s, when Antonina was collecting Russian art, became available and were acquired by Krystyna.
The theme of Female Artists in Russia does not form a special section as such in this collection. However, it includes works by artists who are rarely found elsewhere, such as Elena Guro, Xenia and Maria Ender, Anastasia Akhtyrko. Some female artists, such as Antonina Sofronova, are represented by a whole series of works that are known just by individual drawings in other collections.
Many of the works in the Gmurzynska collection reveal unknown pages in the artistic careers of famous masters. Kazimir Malevich, for example, worked during the last few years of his life on the decoration of architectural structures. One of his faithful students and helpers was Anna Leporskaya, and together they produced a project for decorating the Red Theatre in Leningrad (1931–1932). Malevich’s concept consisted of an entirely new non-objective approach to decorating public spaces. The sketches for the decoration of the Red Theatre that are in the Gmurzynska collection, alongside certain works from the Russian Museum’s collection, are extremely important illustrations of what the interiors could have looked like if the project had been implemented.
The collection of masterpieces, chosen by the Russian Museum will allow you to make a first impression of the collection of the Russian Museum.
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Virtual tour of the museum complex. 2009 (Rus., Eng., Ger., Fin.)
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