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Abramtsevo Artists' Circle

William Morris and Elena Polenova in the UK

During the exhibitionInternational Arts and Craftsheld 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. Assimilar 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

Vasnetsov's homage to Mother Earth (on 45th Earth Day)

The Gifts of Mother Earth and the Soul of Nature
 
Mother,
I come from you,
you carry me,
you nourish me,
and you will take me after my death
 
Russian variant
Born from the earth,
fed by the earth,
into the earth I will go!
 
Soul of Nature
I am the soul of nature
That gives life to the universe
From me all things proceed
And to me they must return
 
The artists that joined the Abramtsevo artists' circle in late 19th century Russia were attracted by Abramtsevo’s rural location on Radonezh soil.

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.

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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