Unprecedented exhibit RUSSIA! to open in New York 16 Sen

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will present RUSSIA!, the most comprehensive exhibition of Russian art ever sent abroad, September 16, 2005, through January 11, 2006.

With more than 250 objects, this innovative exhibition will feature the greatest masterworks of Russian art from the thirteenth century to the present, including icons; portraiture in both painting and sculpture from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries; critical realism in the nineteenth century as well as socialist realism of the communist era; landscapes through the centuries; pioneering abstraction; and experimental contemporary art—many of these works will be seen for the first time outside of Russia. The exhibition will also feature a selection of first-class Western European paintings and sculptures from the imperial art collections assembled by Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Nicolas I in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and later in the early twentieth century by the Moscow merchants Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov. These works will testify simultaneously to the perspicacity and daring of Russian art collectors, the discernible influence of these outstanding collections on the development of Russian art, and the special relationship between Russia and the West.

This exhibition has been realized under the patronage of Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation.

This exhibition has been organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in collaboration with the Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography of the Russian Federation, State Russian Museum, The State Tretyakov Gallery, State Hermitage Museum, and ROSIZO State Museum Exhibition Center.

This exhibition is made possible by the Vladimir Potanin Charity Fund.

Major exhibition sponsorship provided by the Alcoa Foundation and Sintezneftegaz Co.

This exhibition is further made possible by Lazare Kaplan International, Thaw Charitable Trust, International Foundation of Russian and Eastern European Art, Trust for Mutual Understanding, an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities, together with the generous support of the RUSSIA! Leadership Committee.

Transportation assistance provided by Aeroflot Russian Airlines.

Media support provided by Thirteen/WNET.

Special thanks to the Hermitage-Guggenheim Foundation for its assistance with this exhibition.

A significant number of the selected artworks have either rarely or never traveled abroad, notably: icons by the fifteenth-century painter Andrei Rublev and the sixteenth-century painter Dionysii; Ivan Aivazovsky’s epic seascape The Ninth Wave (1850); Vasilii Perov’s introspective portrait of Fyodor Dostoevsky (1872), the only picture painted of the writer during his lifetime; Ilya Repin’s iconic Bargehaulers on the Volga (1870–73); Mikhail Vrubel’s haunting Symbolist masterpiece Lilacs (1900); and Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square (ca. 1930), from the Hermitage. The works will be on loan from Russia’s greatest museums—the State Russian Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Hermitage Museum, and the Kremlin Museum—as well as regional museums, private collections, and a select number of museums and private collections outside of Russia.

According to Thomas Krens, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, “This exhibition will serve as a unique opportunity to introduce the international public to the most valued artistic treasures culled from Russia’s greatest museums. RUSSIA! is in keeping with the Guggenheim’s distinguished history of presenting groundbreaking exhibitions of Russian art, including Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia: Selections from the George Costakis Collection (1981), The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915–1932 (1992), Amazons of the Avant-Garde (2000), and Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism (2003). Undoubtedly, an exhibition of this scope and reach will not be repeated in this generation.”

RUSSIA! is curated by a team of Russian and American specialists, including Guggenheim Director Thomas Krens; Robert Rosenblum, Stephen and Nan Swid Curator of Twentieth-Century Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Evgenia Petrova, Deputy Director for Academic Research, State Russian Museum; Lidia Iovleva, First Deputy General Director for Scientific Work, State Tretyakov Gallery; Pavel Khoroshilov, Deputy Head, Department of Mass Communication, Culture, and Education Headquarters of the Government of the Russian Federation; Anna Kolupaeva, Director of the Cultural Heritage Department, Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation; Zelfira Tregulova, Deputy Director for Exhibitions and International Exchange, Moscow Kremlin State Historical-Cultural Museum-Preserve; Georgii Vilinbakhov, Deputy Director, the State Hermitage Museum; and Valerie Hillings, Curatorial Assistant, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

The exhibition installation is designed by French designer Jacques Grange.

The show’s opening will coincide with the start the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

Exhibition Overview

RUSSIA! is conceived as a series of key moments in the history of art in Russia. Added together, the various sections of the exhibition both tell the remarkable and interconnected history of Russian art of the last eight hundred years and Russian collections of Western art since the eighteenth century and demonstrate that Russia’s major contributions to the history of world art extend far beyond the already well-known and revered icons of the Russian Orthodox faith and the avant-garde of the early twentieth century.

The unique architecture of the Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright building will play a major role in this ambitious presentation. The spiral of the museum will be filled with eight-hundred years of Russian art, so that in a single view, looking up or across the ramps of the distinctive interior, visitors will both comprehend the remarkable span of Russian artistic production from the early thirteenth century to the present and be able to identify recurring themes through the centuries. The exhibition will unfold chronologically from the bottom to the top of the Guggenheim Museum: medieval Russia (the age of the icon, thirteenth–seventeenth centuries), the eighteenth century (the age of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great), the nineteenth century (academic art and Romanticism in the first half of the century and critical realism in the second half), the early twentieth century (Avant-Garde), ca. 1930–1960s (Soviet), and 1970–present (post-Soviet). Among the more than one hundred Russian artists presented will be Andrei Rublev, Dionysii, Dmitrii Levitsky, Orest Kiprensky, Karl Briullov, Alexander Ivanov, Ilya Repin, Ivan Kramskoy, Nikolai Ge, Mikhail Vrubel, Valentin Serov, Natalia Goncharova, Alexander Rodchenko, Kazimir Malevich, Marc Chagall, Isaac Brodsky, Alexander Deineka, Alexander Laktionov, Gelii Korzhev, Ilya Kabakov, and Vitaly Komar & Alexander Melamid.

Two of the Annex galleries will present a selection of Western masterworks collected by the monarchs Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Nicolas I and the merchants Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov, respectively, which testify to the foresight of Russian collectors and highlight the relationship between Russia and the West since the eighteenth century. These sections will feature Anthony Van Dyck, Peter Paul Rubens, Guido Reni, Bartolome Murillo, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Jean-Baptiste Chardin, Claude Monet, Andrй Derain, Maurice Vlaminck, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, and Pablo Picasso.

An additional section will be presented concurrently at the Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas. This exhibition, RUSSIA!

The Majesty of the Tsars: Treasures from the Kremlin, on view from September 1, 2005 through January 15, 2006, will feature objects from pre-Petrine Russia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the Russian tsars still resided in Moscow. The show will present rare and beautiful clothing and jewelry worn by tsars, tsarinas, and patriarchs, elaborate adornments for horses, an impressive selection of arms and armor, an iconostasis from the Annunciation Cathedral, the remarkable and highest quality silver serving pieces given to the tsars by foreign dignitaries, and Russian golden tableware.

Exhibition Installation

In New York, the first section will be devoted to medieval Russia, or the age of the icon, which spanned the early thirteenth through the seventeenth centuries. Uniquely, this exhibition will include multiple panels of the Deesis Tier from the famous iconostasis of the Kirillo-Belozerskii Monastery, which has been dispersed among four Russian museums since nationalization. This impressive set of images will be brought to life through select decorative objects and a dramatic design that will transport the viewer to another time and place. This section will also present an outstanding selection of icons representing the most important subjects and schools from the thirteenth through the seventeenth centuries. It will bring to the Guggenheim one work by each of the most famous icon painters, Andrei Rublev and Dionysii, as well one of the most revered icons, the Virgin of Vladimir of 1514. These icons will demonstrate how Russian artists absorbed and relied upon the Byzantine model, even as they transformed it and created their own style and artistic language.

The second and third sections will be devoted to the imperial art collections of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and Russian art of the eighteenth century, respectively. In artistic terms, the eighteenth century marks the birth of secular Russian art; it is the period when Peter the Great (1672–1725; tsar from 1682 to1725) founded his window on the West, St. Petersburg, and instigated a series of reforms that diminished the dominance of the Russian Orthodox Church and its traditions, including icon painting. A generation later, Peter the Great’s granddaughter-in-law Catherine the Great (1729–1796, tsarina from 1762 to 1796) assembled a first-rate collection of Western paintings in her Hermitage and supported the development of an academic system for art based on the Western European model, including stipends for the best students of the Academy of Art to study abroad in Italy. Exposed to the European tradition through the outstanding collection of Western art made available to them at Catherine’s Hermitage and study with foreign artists at the Academy of Arts founded under her patronage, Russian artists including the painter Dmitrii Levitski and the sculptor Fedot Shubin produced stunning official portraiture of both the imperial family and the nobility, thereby capturing their time, the age of Catherine, as brilliantly and richly as their contemporaries in Western Europe such as Joshua Reynolds and Jean-Antoine Houdon. And on the cusp of the nineteenth century, artists such as Fedor Alekseev produced breathtaking landscape paintings of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The fourth section will present the nineteenth century. The first half of the nineteenth century was marked by the high level and range of Russian art—from Romantic portraiture to timeless representations of peasant life, to epic scenes from the life of Christ, to tumultuous, epic seascapes. These decades are represented by such accomplished artists as Orest Kiprensky, Alexei Venetsianov, Karl Briullov, Alexander Ivanov, and Ivan Aivazovsky, whose work not only paralleled their contemporaries abroad but also in several instances anticipated developments in the West; for example, Venetsianov’s idyllic peasant paintings of the mid-1820s preceded the more familiar work of the French artist Jean-Franзois Millet by nearly thirty years. In the second half of the nineteenth century, a group of artists that formed in the 1860s and was active through the 1890s—and known historically as the Wanderers—rejected the strictures of the academic system and chose to present their art to a wider public by organizing traveling exhibitions. They stressed the high social mission of art, that is, art as a tool for social commentary and criticism, especially of the brutal living conditions and political repression of their time. They shared with Edouard Manet and Impressionists such as Edgar Degas an interest in showing the uglier side of a society divided along class lines, but similar to many of their contemporaries in Germany, Belgium, and the United States, the Wanderers more strongly emphasized the narrative content of the artistic work rather than formal experimentation. Chief among this group of artists were Ilya Repin, Ivan Kramskoy, Nikolai Ge, and the landscape painters Isaac Levitan and Ivan Shishkin. It was the work of the Wanderers that constituted the foundation for the great collection of Pavel Tretyakov, now in the State Tretyakov Gallery. Moreover, these artists, in much the same way as the slightly earlier work of Gustave Courbet in France, provided a critical realist model against which the generation known as the historic avant-garde reacted.

The fifth and sixth sections will revisit a subject of several previous Guggenheim exhibitions, the historic Russian avant-garde. The fifth section will display select modern masterworks from the collections of the Moscow merchants Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov, which included some of the most important examples of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Cubism; among the artists presented will be Monet, Gauguin, Matisse, and Picasso. These collections exerted a strong influence on the generation of Russian artists that emerged in the early twentieth century. However, the Russian artists fused the diverse Western influences with national traditions, such as the icon and folk art, into a synthetic vision uniquely their own.

The sixth section will commence with Russian art ca. 1900 through the presentation of works that could be termed Russian Symbolism. The most impressive representative of this trend is Mikhail Vrubel, who produced works on themes similar to that of his contemporaries across Europe, yet also marked by his local context manifest in his use of subjects from Russian folklore and literature. Such experimental art served as a precursor to the pioneering work of Russian avant-garde artists, many of whom will be featured in this exhibition, including Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Kazimir Malevich, and the lesser known Ilya Mashkov, Pyotr Konchalovsky, and Aristarkh Lentulov. As is well known, a succession of radical movements emerged out of this context in rapid succession over a very short period of time: Cubo-Futurism, Rayonism, Suprematism, Constructivism, and others. While in the past a great deal of emphasis has been placed on abstraction in early twentieth-century Russian art, this exhibition will equally stress the point that the tradition of figurative art continued to thrive at a time when Russian artists produced some of the most innovative artworks in the history of art.

The seventh historical period will examine the Soviet era, which is so strongly associated with the official doctrine for art known as socialist realism, established in 1934. Long seen as merely propaganda or historical curiosity, this style nonetheless produced highly talented artists, both official and unofficial. The main turning point away from the propagandistic approach that characterized Soviet art of the 1930s was the Great Patriotic War (World War II), when artists began to move beyond absolute idealism in art. This shift is echoed in the best canvases of Alexander Laktionov, Arkadii Plastov, Alexander Deineka, and Pavel Korin, which will also be included. This section of the exhibition will therefore present artists such as Isaac Brodsky, who painted many of the most iconic images of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, alongside artists like Alexander Deineka, whose subjects remained true to Communism even as his style reflected not only an enduring modernist sensibility but also a discernibly singular artistic vision.

The eighth and final section will chart developments in Soviet art between Stalin’s death and the end of the Cold War. In the wake of Stalin’s death in 1953, many artists began to explore more personal approaches and subjects, such as Gelii Korzhev’s expressionist, forthright depiction of a soldier who lost his eye in World War II or Ilya Kabakov’s depiction in books and installations of the Soviet “Everyman” trying to escape the confines of the communal apartment and of Soviet society itself. RUSSIA! seeks to reveal the pluralism of Soviet art in order to call into question one of the most lasting mythologies of Russia in the West—namely that its art was either exclusively rooted in the mandates of the regime or against the state altogether during the period from ca. 1930 to 1980. This section will conclude with select works by contemporary Russian artists, thus highlighting the ongoing presence and strength of Russian art on the international scene.

Installation Design The French designer Jacques Grange developed the exhibition’s installation design in collaboration with Hervй Aaron, Serge Barbosa, Bйatrice Loubet, and Pierre Passebon. Working with a sophisticated palette and materials evocative of Russian palaces and museums, Grange’s installation emphasizes the chronological sweep of the exhibition, while still maintaining the integrity of the building and the artwork. Grange is well known for numerous residential projects in Europe and the United States and is a fervent collector of nineteenth and twentieth century art. His work often explores the relationship between art, design, and interiors. Previous exhibition projects include Yves Saint Laurent 1958–1985 at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Peking, and Schiapparelli at the Palais du Louvre in Paris.


The lavishly illustrated publication RUSSIA! Nine Hundred Years of Masterpieces and Master Collections will include fourteen essays by leading Russian and American scholars, including James Billington, Mikhail Shwydkoi, Gerald Vzdornov, Mikhail Allenov, Dmitrii Sarabianov, Robert Rosenblum, Evgenia Petrova, Lidia Iovleva, Albert Kostenevich, Sergei Androsov, Boris Groys, Ekaterina Degot, Valerie Hillings, and Alexander Borovsky. The publication’s scope will make it one of the most comprehensive sources on the history of Russian art and history published in English. The catalogue is 450 pages with 300 full-color plates as well as additional illustrations ($75 hardcover; $50 softcover). A companion volume RUSSIA! Catalogue of the Exhibition will document every work in the exhibition with full-color images and brief, authoritative texts. It will be approximately 80 pages and will include more than 250 images ($24.95). In addition, there will be an illustrated catalogue for RUSSIA! The Majesty of the Tsars: Treasures from the Kremlin Museum. The catalogue, approximately 144 pages, follows the exhibition and focuses on Russia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the Russian tsars still resided in Moscow and before the founding of St. Petersburg in the eighteenth century. The catalogue includes an introductory essay by Kremlin curator Irina Bogronovnitskaya, an introduction to each theme, entries on groups of objects in the exhibition, and a chronology of the imperial lineage during the period ($45 hardcover). All three catalogues are published by the Guggenheim Museum and will be distributed in North America by D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers.


In conjunction with the exhibition RUSSIA!, the Sackler Center for Arts Education is presenting a broad array of public programs ranging from a lecture series presenting leading scholars in the field of Russian art and culture; panel discussions featuring Soviet and international contemporary artists and collectors; collaborative program development with artists; performances of Russian music; and exhibition-related workshops, and tours for elementary, middle school, and high school students. Programs are subject to change. For updated information regarding ticketed programs, contact the Box Office at (212) 423-3587.

Lectures and Panel Series A lecture series is currently in development which presents leading scholars in the field of Russian art and culture, including the participation of Albert Kostenevich, Chief Researcher and Curator of 19th–20th century Western European art, State Hermitage Museum, James Billington, Librarian of Congress, and Yevgeny Yevtvshenko, Russia’s most famous living poet.

A series of panel discussions inspired by the influence of Russian art through the centuries features international contemporary artists, as well as Soviet artists who were active after the death of Joseph Stalin. The series also includes a distinguished panel of collectors sharing their unique perspectives on Russian art.

Public & Artist Interactions

Artists are invited to design innovative programs that broaden audience access to the exhibition and to the artists’ own work. Russian contemporary artist Vitaly Komar whose work is featured in RUSSIA! will work with the education and curatorial staff to develop an educational offering in response to the exhibition.

Works & Process at the Guggenheim

This unique program will present traditional Russian music and dance with a presentation by the Dmitry Pokrovsky Ensemble in the Guggenheim Museum’s Peter B. Lewis Theater.


School Tour and Workshop Program

Visiting classes experience age-appropriate tours and workshops for students in grades three through twelve. Tour and Workshop Programs related to of RUSSIA! include interactive tours of the galleries that introduce students to the various periods and concerns inherent in Russian art across the centuries. The workshop component allows students to create a personal work that responds to the exhibition. Learning Through Art/The Guggenheim Museum Children’s Program

Learning Through Art facilitates year-long (20-week) and semester-long (10-week) curriculum-based artists’ residencies conducted in public schools. The program’s mission is to reinforce school curriculum through multidisciplinary arts education explorations, motivating students to improve their basic academic, communication, and critical thinking skills. Program sites are in all five boroughs of NYC. Since the study of world history and global studies is part of the mandated curriculum for elementary school students, we expect that this exhibition will be fully integrated into LTA residencies.

Afterschool program for 8–11 year-olds

Designed for neighborhood students, this 8-week program meets weekly and offers active explorations of different aspects of the museum. Children will spend Ѕ the session in the gallery experiencing and discussing works of art, and the other half of the session creating their own works in response to the art the have explored. The eight-week long series culminates with a showcase where students invite their families to view the work they have created. The fall 2005 series includes sessions focusing on RUSSIA!.

Curriculum Guide for Educators - Printed and Web-based versions

Curriculum Guides for Educators are designed to assist teachers in using museum exhibitions both in their classrooms and to support museum visits. Curriculum materials for RUSSIA! focus on Russian civilization from historical, social, and art historical perspectives. These materials are available in both printed and web-based formats.

Professional Development for Educators

The Sackler Center for Arts Education at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum offers year-round opportunities for educators in core curriculum areas including, the arts, English language arts, social studies, the humanities, and math, to learn creative strategies for incorporating the arts into classroom activities. These programs introduce works of art, explore interdisciplinary curriculum applications, and introduce methods for teaching with objects. For maximum flexibility, workshops are offered as both full-day and after school options.

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