Thursday, January 26, 2006

Russian Art Gallery
Museum of Russian Art

Russian Art
I had the good fortune to be in Florence last summer. My wife and I were in a restaurant one rainy evening and the couple sitting next to us turned out to be a Russian art professor from St. Petersburg and his wife.

While we were having fun trying to carry on a conversation about art with gestures, nods, sketchbooks and the help of his wife’s limited English (certainly better than our non-grasp of Russian), the question came up about how much Russian art I was familiar with. I realized to my surprise that the answer was almost none. For some reason, even in the post-cold war climate of the last several years, Americans have some familiarity with Russian music and literature but almost no exposure to Russian visual art.

Even when I thought about it later, the only Russian painters I could think of were Chagall and Kandinski and I tend to think that’s because they both achieved notice in Paris. Russian painters who lived and worked in Russia were a blank to me. So I made a point of looking up some Russian Art on the web.

For many years of Communist (and particularly Stalinist) rule, the only art style that wasn’t actively discouraged in Soviet Russia was Socialist Realism, so there are lots of images depicting the nobility of toil and smiling workers carrying the revolutionary ideals forward, etc. Even within those oppressive limitations, Russian artists achieved great beauty and there was a surprising flowering of Russian Impressionism. That’s mostly what I’m showing here: clockwise from top left: Victor Koshevoi, Sergei A. Kolyada, Vladimir Sosnovsky and Konstantin Lomykin. I’ve become particularly impressed with the work of Vladimir Sosnovsky whose simple and direct version of impressionism reminds me of my favorite under-appreciated Impressionist, Alfred Sisley.

These images were found in the two main resources I came across on the web. The Russian Art Gallery has nice online images of work they have for sale from Russian artists working in various styles.

The Museum of Russian Art is a museum in Minnesota devoted to promoting awareness of Russian art in this country. They recently provided the art for a well-received exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum’s Sackler Center. There is a good online gallery associated with the museum’s own exhibit, Perspectives on Russian Art.

In addition, I found that Rollins College has an online section on 20th Century Russian Art and Auburn University has a good selection from several centuries.

16 thoughts on “Russian Art Gallery
Museum of Russian Art

  1. Bonnie

    The Guggenheim Museum in New York recently had a show on Russian art. It began with icons from the 15th centaury and continued up to very modern paintings. The show was amazing. So many beautiful and vibrant displays of talent and expression. It’s about time the world become more familiar with Russian art.

  2. Charley Parker Post author

    Bonnie, thanks for letting me know your impression of the show. It sounds great. I wish I had been aware of it sooner. I believe this is the show I mention in the post for which the art was from the collection of The Museum of Russian Art.

  3. Jeff Hayes

    I’m *SO* happy you posted this. Last year I stumbled across a book of 19th Century Russian painting at my local library and have been head over heels since. One of my favorites has been Ivan Shishkin, though unfortunately the color reproduction of a lot of his paintings available online seems way off to me. There’s also a nice tasting at The State Russian Museum. These painters should definitely be better known here… EXCELLENT post!

  4. Charley Parker Post author

    Pavel, thanks for the links. There’s some really great stuff out there. It’s too bad Google’s page translation feature doesn’t do Russian to English. I didn’t think to use Wikipedia to look up Russian Painters in general, it’s quite a list. The propaganda art is a hoot, but some of it is really quite well done.

  5. Charley Parker Post author

    doug, thanks for the link. There’s some beautiful work there.

    Obviously there is a lot to be investigated and discovered about Russian art on the web, both for personal pleasure and future posts. I love it! Thanks, all!

  6. Robert Garren

    Unfortunately, during the Soviet period, in this country Russian artists were almost un-known highly under-appreciated. However, lately there has been a boom in interest of Russian art, and it is astounding what that country has to offer. The show at the Guggenheim had quite a hand in that, and also there was an excellent show last spring at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

    You’d never expect it, but one of the largest collections of Russian art in the country is at the Robert Garren Galley in Georgetown, Tennessee. Come check it out: http://www.garrengallery.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>