- Just love Russian art, the Russian people and the Russian land
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Articles by Inge Wierda

Francfort en français-russkiy

Francfort en français-russkiy. Frankfurt auf Französisch-Russisch
Von Dr. Inge Wierda (Kunsthistorikerin)

Im Herbst des Jahres 2017 wurde Frankfurt am Main französisch, da Frankreich Ehrengast der Buchmesse 2017 war. Ähnliches hatte sich bereits in dem für die Frankfurter Kulturpolitik bemerkenswerten Jahr 1958 ereignet, als über Frankreich deutsch-russische Beziehungen etabliert wurden. Damals bedachten die beiden Kulturstadträte Heinz Vogel und Karl vom Rath den Frankfurter Künstler Eberhard Steneberg sowie einige in Frankreich lebende russische Künstler mit zwei besonderen Aufträgen.

Centenary and Impact of Kandinsky’s "Über das Geistige in der Kunst”, Symposium, University of Leiden, 2012


The groundbreaking book ‘Über das Geistige in der Kunst. Insbesondere in der Malerei’ was written by the Russian artist Vasily Kandinsky. It was published in 1912, by R. Piper Verlag & Co in Munich, the city where its author was living at the time of publication.(1) It received acclaim overnight. A second enlarged and third edition followed a couple of months later, still in 1912. Kandinsky’s book inspired artists as well as art historians and museum professionals to explore the theme of the spiritual in art for themselves, and to create their own art, interpretations and exhibitions on the very same theme.

William Morris and Elena Polenova in the UK

During the exhibition International Arts and Crafts held in the V&A in London in 2005, Abramtsevo’s arts and crafts movement was represented by just one object by Polenova: a wall cupboard. As similar ideas and artistic practises occurred in the UK and Russia at about the same time, the question raised if William Morris could have inspired Abramtsevo’s revival of the arts and crafts in Russia. Today, the London based Russian scholar, dr. Natalia Murray, made up the neglect, and showed the complete oeuvre of this remarkable Russian artist, Elena Polenova, at the

Malevich' feestje in het Drents Museum Assen!

Het boerenleven in de kunst van Malevich
Veel mensen bezochten vorig jaar de grote expositie Kazimir Malevich en de Russische avant-garde in het Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, waar Malevich' werk tot en met 1927 te zien was. In het Drents Museum in Assen is nog t/m 15 maart een glasheldere presentatie van zijn laatste meer figuratieve fase (1928-1935) te zien, waarin hij het motief van de boer weer oppakte. 
Malevich, die in zijn jonge jaren een opleiding aan een landbouwschool in de Oekraïne had gevolgd voordat hij kunstenaar werd, gaf de boeren een eigentijds gezicht in deze voor hen zo zware periode van gedwongen landbouwcollectivisatie (1927-32).

Modern Russian Pioneers IV: Kazimir Malevich (see 15/3/13)

The Blue Rose Exhibition in 1907 was one of the first Russian avant-garde events. A departure from a naturalist style, a symbolist tendency and an interest in the spiritual characterised the exposition. Although Kazimir Malevich did not participate in the show, he clearly took an interest in symbolist aesthetics and the exhibited works. This can be seen in several studies for a fresco also known as the Yellow Series, shown at the exhibition "The Great Change" in the Bonnefantemuseum in Maastricht (Spring 2013) and the exhibition "Kazimir Malevich and the Russian Avant-Garde’’ in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (19.

Modern Russian Pioneers III: Natalya Goncharova (see 15/3/13)

In December 1909, a group of artists around Goncharova launched neo-primitivist art at the third exhibition of the ‘Golden Fleece’, in which they affirmed a national identity in a similar vein to the artists of Abramtsevo. They explored Russian roots as found in the country’s ‘primitive’ pagan, as well as medieval, Orthodox past and continued to propagate the rural myth of ‘obshchina’, as well as the spiritual notion of ‘sobornost’. In line with the Slavophiles and Abramtsevo artists’ circle, the neo-primitivists cherished their peasants and saints, their land and their religion as symbols of a national identity.

Modern Russian Pioneers II: Breaking with the Past

Breaking with the past
Russia certainly was not the only country with a feudal system in 19th century Europe. It is not a coincidence that a critical realist current in art emerged in mid 19th century in France also. Like Russian realists after the abolishment of serfdom in 1861, French artists sympathised with the so-called 'lower' classes after their 1848 revolution and the abolishment of slavery in French colonies a year later. This can be demonstrated in Gustave Courbet's famous painting of the 'Stone Breakers' (1849) and Francois Miller's 'Sower' (1950).

Modern Russian Pioneers I: Introduction (see blogpost 15/03/13)

Various group and solo exhibitions of early twentieth-century Russian avant-gardist art shown in the late 1980s and 1990s in Western Europe, following Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of ‘glasnost’, aroused my professional interest in Russian art history. The renewed acquaintance first led to research in preparation for the design of courses about Russian art, secondly to a PhD-research project on the late nineteenth-century Russian art practices of Abramtsevo artists’ circle, and the hypothesis that this circle holds a key to a more profound understanding of ‘the Russian avant-garde’, and to Russian culture as a whole.

Elena Preis: Retrospective and Recent Works (2013)

The Ignatius Gallery in Amsterdam organised a Preis retrospective as part of the Netherlands-Russia Year 2013 earlier this year. It was a premiere of her oeuvre in the Netherlands, in which the artist made a clear statement. In September 2013 another major exhibition opened in the Otten Kunst Raum, where recent paper reliefs -and sculptures by Preis will be shown along works of her sculptor-friend Vasily Pavlovksy. The exhibition can be seen until 5 December in Hohenems (A).

Elena Preis was born in Stalinist Russia in 1937.

Mikhail Nesterov, Artist of Abramtsevo in Search of Holy Russia

Until 18 August 2013 the Nesterov-retrospective ‘Mikhail Nesterov. In search of his own Russia.To the 150 anniversary’ can be seen in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. An hommage to Nesterov and the Abramtsevo Artists' Circle (1870s-1890s).
Although memoirs, letters and chronicles, have been sidelined in academic art history to some extent, primary texts such as Elizaveta Mamontova’s personal memoirs, the chronicle of Abramtsevo’s circle and countless letters written by participants in the artists’ circle proved to be central to the entire literature on both Abramtsevo, Academic, and Realist art history.
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