Last night was the launch of the Russia! exhibition at the Guggenheim museum. This photograph was a lucky shot I got off despite my camera playing up all night. Just look at the size of that guy’s balalaika in the background. I never knew they made them so big! I should have asked, but is this a double bass balalaika? Does anyone know? Dezik?
The exhibition is fabulous, combining works from the Kremlin Museum, the State Russian Museum and the State Tretyakov Gallery of Moscow as well as the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, and some regional galleries and private collections inside and outside of Russia. Starting with 15th century icons it goes on to cover 18th, 19th and 20th century works by Russian artists as well as European works collected by Russians.
I wrote the family tour for this exhibition and during the last few months I fell in love with a number of Russian works I had never previously seen, including Ivan Aivazovsky’s The Ninth Wave and Ilya Repin’s Barge Haulers on the Volga. Both works looked stunning last night. But my surprise favorite of the evening was a work that I think was called Proekt and that I can find no trace of in the catalogue or online! So you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Unfortunately Proekt, which comprises a series of 6ft tall panels charting the daily life of a single person, is inaccesible to non-Russian speakers as its appeal lies in the humorous notes the artist has added denoting the significance of each of the objects he has drawn. For example, the first panel is a picture of a bare room, containing just a table, a chair and a picture; upon the table stands a book, a lamp, a glass of water and an apple.
At the table you can:
just sit and look out of the window.
Believe me, it’s funny when you see it. And I think I enjoyed it the most as I watched all the Russian pointing and giggling as they made their way along the work.
New York Times review of Russia!
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Exhibitions like this one are the best way to create the correct notion of Russia,” according to Mikhail Shvydkoi, head of the Russian Federal Agency for Culture and Film Making (MosNews)
A funny story in Wednesday’s New York Times about Russia’s new obsession with flashy toilets.