Sunday, November 21, 2010

2010 11 21 - On Tour: Tretyakov Gallery (Modern) and Gorky Park

The wintry mix of the weekend turned into just snow over night - we had our first significant snowfall in Moscow. It was pretty and quiet.

2010 11 20 - Gorky Park

but also cold and windy which led to a Museum day.

The Treytyakov Gallery houses primarily Russian and Russian connected works. There are two museums--the original Tretyakov and a modern museum that is dedicated to 20th century art. Today we attended the latter of these outposts. We hope to get to the Original, but time is quickly running out on our time in Moscow.

In addition to the Museum Collection there were 3 special exhibitions at the Treytakov the weekend we visited. The first was a large collection of tranquil Land and Riverscapes by Isaak Levitan. This exhibition was in a rather large gallery which Jo and I perused quickly as it drew a fairly large claustrophobia inducing crowd.

The next exhibition we came across was a series of bread & wine photos by Gor Chahal - the project was of a religious nature - one of the works features a photo-still-life from several different angles - I am questioning one of the angles - I think something got moved.

The final exhibition was by K V Edelshtein - it was the most interesting of the three and of course I cannot find any links to her work. I can only summarize by saying that her paintings varied from some pretty traditional pictures of common folks going to and from church work or school and some "Cafe at Night" paintings to more abstract and reaching works reminiscent of Edvard Munch.
Then Something Happens

I am not an art snob - I am somewhat of an art plebe - that's fine - I don't know anything about wine, but that doesn't keep me from enjoying a glass or two (or ten).

But that does not mean I am a complete novice either - I have been to several major art museums in the states as well as the Louvre in Paris and even one dedicated to a single artist (Dali). And I certainly would know the difference between a Rembrandt Exhibit and lets say a Carnival.

But every once in a while something happens - On this day it happened at the Tretyakov.

I recognized a painting I had seen in another exhibition - this is somewhat monumental - Any painting I had seen prior to this I recognized from seeing the picture hundreds likely thousands of times on Posters, TV, in books, magazines, or in promotional material for the exhibit. Chances are I knew the painting was going to be part of the exhibit I was visiting.

How Does this Happen?

Well you need to be involved in a culture for which you have very little frame of reference. I know a few artists that everybody knows - Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Cezanne, Warhol, Mapplethorpe, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo - or any other artist portrayed by Salma Hayek on Celluloid, That Wyeth clan down in Chadds Ford, The Loner Girl who painted all those erotic flowers, the Scream, Picasso (note: if you produce 20,000 works are they all really art - seriously some of those would have to be considered doodles or at least sketches), etc etc and of course I have a few favorites like Dali and Edward Hopper who I know pretty well.

But as far as Russian Art is concerned I know very little. I mean what American does?

We really have very few cornerstone for Russian Art in American culture.

A few years back over Billie Jo's Christmas break we ventured to NY to see a special exhibit of paintings a the Guggenheim from Russia. The Exhibit was simply (and excitedly) titled "RUSSIA!"

First off, just going to the Guggenheim for the first time is pretty exciting, the architecture of the building is it's own work of art.

The exhibit was mixed - I repeat I had even less frame of reference for Russian art 5 years ago then I do now. but...

One of the paintings I saw that day - I saw at the Tretyakov today.

I am not sure that I consider Vicktor Popkov's "Builder of the Bratsk Hydroelectic Power Station" a great painting - or why I remember it - It is fairly large in scale - The picture is of common people who are involved in the drudgery of performing unglamorous work but a necessary task - This can describe much of the State Backed Artwork of the Era. Maybe that is what makes it memorable.

Viktor Popkov, Builders of the Bratsk Hydroelectric Power Station

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