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.
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
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).
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.
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.
Breaking with the past
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).
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.
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.
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.
Andrei Rublev (1360-ca.1420) was one of the nine persons and the first icon painter sanctified by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988. He was canonised during a solemn ceremony in the Trinity-H. Sergius Monastery in Sergiev Posad, where Rublev lived and worked for several years.[i]
In 1982, Irina Vasilevna Vatiginoi was commissioned to create the first icon of the saint for the occasion by the Holy Synod. Although there is no way to verify if the image she crafted looked like him, the inscription confirms that the saint depicted in the icon is Andrei Rublev.