RUSSIA! exhibition to display masterpieces of Russian arts to international audience

A large–scale art exhibition RUSSIA! will open in the Solomon Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA) on 16 September, 2005

The exhibition is timed to the 60th Anniversary of the United Nations Organization. The art show will present a comprehensive retrospective of the Russian art from icons of the 12th century to contemporary creative objects. Over 250 works have been selected for the art show. One of the main goals of the exhibition is to demonstrate Russia's contribution in the art culture of the world, distinguish the originality of spiritual and esthetical way, on which the Russian art was developing.

The composition of the exhibition will be organized according to basic stages of the history of the Russian arts. Visitors will be able to see most valuable icons, best samples of the art of painting and sculpture from the 18th till the first half of the 19th century, as well as masterpieces of realistic painting of the 19th-20th centuries. The exhibition will demonstrate most interesting and scaled creations of socialistic realism, the works from renowned masters of vanguard, creations of the official and non-conformist art of the 1960s-1990s, as well as modern installations.

A lot of works of art show will be exposed to the public eye for the first time outside Russia. They will include the well-known Spas Emmanuil icon of the 12th century; monumental icons the Kirill-Belozersky monastery (1497); paintings by Andrey Rublev and Dionisiy; the only lifetime portrait of the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, by Vasili Perov (1872); “The Decuman Wave” by Ivan Aivazovsky, which was hardly ever exposed at foreign art shows; Ilya Repin's “The Volga Barge Haulers,” “Lilac,” the masterpiece of symbolism by Mikhail Vrubel, as well as the “Black Square” by Kazimir Malevich, which has been recently acquired for the collection of the State Hermitage.

Renowned collections of the West-European art, which exerted considerable influence on the formation of the Russian arts after the reign of Peter the Great, will have a special place at the art show. The “RUSSIA!” exhibition will represent the works of ancient masters, which Peter I, Ekaterina II and Nikolas I used to purchase for themselves, as well as masterpieces from the collections of Russian merchants, Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov. The works of the West-European arts, which became like a master-class manual for Russian artists of the 18th-19th centuries and a powerful incentive in the formation of the new art trend in the beginning of the 20th century, demonstrate a very important role of collecting in Russia, which assisted in deep cooperation between the arts of Russia and the West and greatly affected the formation of radical ideas of vanguard masters.

Two sections of collecting activities will display the works of Antonis van Dijk, Peter Paul Rubens, Bartolomeo Murillo, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Jean-Batiste Chardin, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, Pablo Picasso, etc.

Russian largest museums presented the exhibits for RUSSIA! exhibition: the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, the State Hermitage, the State Historical and Cultural Museum “The Moscow Kremlin,” the State Historical Museum. Russian provincial museums presented some of the exhibits too.

Thomas Krens, the director of the Solomon Guggenheim foundation, said that the RUSSIA! exhibition would give the international audience a unique chance to see a collection of outstanding masterpieces from Russian museums.

Vladimir Potanin and the Charity Foundation support this project. It became a natural and logic continuation of humanitarian programs that the foundation has been developing with the company Interros for seven years already. It is not only the cooperation and support of pioneer projects of the State Hermitage, but also the activity to boost the Russian museum community within the scope of the project “The Changing Museum in the Changing World.”

The unique architectural space of the Guggenheim Museum, created by Frank Lloyd Wright, plays an extremely important role in the implementation of this ambitious plan. The history of the Russian art will be housed in the super-modern space of the building. The exposition of the art show will be presented in the bottom-up chronological order. Looking up at the footlights of the renowned Wright spiral-shaped building, visitors will be able to see and comprehend the interconnection of key themes and art concepts through the centuries. The Guggenheim Museum invited world-known designer, Jacques Grange, to design the exhibition.

The RUSSIA! exhibition became possible owing to the work of the international team of curators from Russia and the USA. They are Pavel Khoroshilov, the deputy director of the Department for Mass Communications, Culture and Education of the Russian government; Anna Kolupayeva, the chief of the department for cultural legacy, art education and science of the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography; Lidia Iovleva, the deputy director of the State Tretyakov Gallery; Yevgenia Petrova, the deputy director of the State Russian Museum; Georgy Vilinbakhov, the deputy director of the State Hermitage; Zelfira Tregulova, the deputy director of the Moscow Kremlin Museum; Thomas Krens, the director of the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation; Robert Rosenblum and Valerie Hillings, curatorial assistant of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The company Alkoa rendered considerable support to the exhibition. Aeroflot – Russian Airlines acts as an official carrier of the art show.

The RUSSIA! exhibition will be accompanied with an illustrated catalogue. The catalogue will include articles written by Russian and American leading scientists such as Jim Billington, Mikhail Shvydkov, Gerold Vzdornov, Mikhail Allenov, Dmitry Sarabyanov, Robert Rosenblum, Ekaterina Degot, Yevgenia Petrova, Lidia Iovleva, Albert Kostenevich, Sergei Androsov, Boris Grois, Valerie Hillings and Alexander Borovskoy. It will become one of the most extensive and all-embracing books on the history of the Russian arts. The catalogue will be published in the English language.

Various programs and workshops will be organized for teachers and students at the center of education and art of the Guggenheim Museum during the work of the exhibition.

The art show RUSSIA! will be working till 12 January 2006. The preliminary viewing for the press will take place on 15 September 2005.

Author`s name Olga Savka