Posts Tagged ‘Romanov dynasty

09
Mar
17

Exhibition: ‘A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde’ at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

Exhibition dates: 3rd December 2016 – 12th March 2017

 

My apologies to readers of Art Blart, but my postings will be short of comment in the next month or so as I try to take as much rest as possible. I have bad hands which is preventing me from using the keyboard. At the moment I am using dictation software to do the writing for me. I will keep the blog going as much as possible because it is my form of therapy for my mental health.

Which brings me to this posting, another slice of the brilliance of the European inter-war avant-garde, this time from Russia. Design, intense colouration (or lack of it), and complexity of form are hallmarks of this “new, militant art.” Photomontage, form and propaganda go hand in hand with this New Vision. The photograph and the cinema were social and essential elements of this new world order.

Perspective shifted. Pictorial planes fractured. Points of view pictured the unusual: from below, from above, with few vanishing points contained within the image or photomontage. Films had no sound and often no story and no actors. They were experimental intersections of man, machinery, and the world. Art was exciting and revolutionary. For me, Aleksandr Rodchenko is the star of the show. You only have to look at images such as Mother, Pioneer with Bugle, Pioneer girl, and the two photographs titled Dive (1934, below) – both with a sense of weightlessness and perspectival difference – to understand the genius of this artist.

It is indeed a telling indictment that such creativity, in both Russia and Germany (and by default, the rest of Europe), was snuffed out by two dictators who imposed on art a (usually masculine) utopian purity which stifled any hint of militant subversion and originality.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the Museum of Modern Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

We are breaking with the past, because we cannot accept its hypotheses. We ourselves are creating our own hypotheses anew and only upon them … can we build our new life and new world view.

.
Lyubov Popova

 

 

Various artists. 'Mirskontsa (Worldbackwards)' 1912

 

Various artists with Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Nikolai Rogovin, Vladimir Tatlin
Mirskontsa (Worldbackwards)
1912

 

 

For the hundredth anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, MoMA curator Roxana Marcoci explains how artists such as Malevich, Rodchenko, and Vertov attempted to revolutionise Russian society through new means of artistic production – and how the styles developed by the Russian Avant-Garde still affect how we look at art today.

 

Natalia Goncharova (Russian, 1881-1962) 'Rayonism, Blue-Green Forest' 1913

 

Natalia Goncharova (Russian, 1881-1962)
Rayonism, Blue-Green Forest
1913
Oil on canvas
21 1/2 x 19 1/2″ (54.6 x 49.5 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation

 

Olga Rozanova (Russian, 1886-1918) 'The Factory and the Bridge' 1913

 

Olga Rozanova (Russian, 1886-1918)
The Factory and the Bridge
1913
Oil on canvas
32 3/4 x 24 1/4″ (83.2 x 61.6 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation

 

Kazimir Malevich (Russian, born Ukraine. 1878-1935) 'Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying' 1915

 

Kazimir Malevich (Russian, born Ukraine. 1878-1935)
Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying
1915
Oil on canvas
22 7/8 x 19″ (58.1 x 48.3 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquisition confirmed in 1999 by agreement with the Estate of Kazimir Malevich and made possible with funds from the Mrs. John Hay Whitney Bequest (by exchange)

 

Lyubov Popova (Russian, 1889-1924) 'Untitled' c. 1916-17

 

Lyubov Popova (Russian, 1889-1924)
Untitled
c. 1916-17
Gouache on board
19 1/2 x 15 1/2″ (49.5 x 39.5 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation

 

Kazimir Malevich. 'Suprematist Composition: White on White' 1918

 

Kazimir Malevich (Russian, born Ukraine. 1878-1935)
Suprematist Composition: White on White
1918
Oil on canvas
31 1/4 x 31 1/4″ (79.4 x 79.4 cm)
1935 Acquisition confirmed in 1999 by agreement with the Estate of Kazimir Malevich and made possible with funds from the Mrs. John Hay Whitney Bequest (by exchange)

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko. ' Non-Objective Painting no. 80 (Black on Black)' 1918

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Non-Objective Painting no. 80 (Black on Black)
1918
Oil on canvas
32 1/4 x 31 1/4″ (81.9 x 79.4 cm)
Gift of the artist, through Jay Leyda

 

 

This work belongs to a series of eight black paintings Rodchenko made in direct response to a group of white paintings of the same year by the older and more established artist Kazimir Malevich. Malevich relied on a severely reduced palette of whites to suggest a floating form in an infinite spatial expanse; Rodchenko moved toward eliminating colour completely in order to focus instead on the material quality of the paintings surface. “Where the black works are winning is in the fact that they have no colour, they are strong through painting …,” declared artist Varvara Stepanova, Rodchenko’s wife. “Nothing besides painting exists.” Both series were first shown in Moscow in April 1919, in the 10th State Exhibition: Non-Objective Art and Suprematism. The black works were received with enthusiasm and helped establish Rodchenko as a leader of the Russian avant-garde. (MoMA gallery label 2015)

 

Jean Pougny (Ivan Puni) (Russian, born Finland. 1892-1956) 'Flight of Forms' 1919

 

Jean Pougny (Ivan Puni) (Russian, born Finland. 1892-1956)
Flight of Forms
1919
Gouache and pencil on paper
51 1/8 x 51 1/2″ (129.7 x 130.8 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

 

 

A new art was needed, armed by technology and chemistry, an art that stood side by side with socialist industry, a new, militant art, which could organize the will of the masses.

.
Gustav Klutsis

 

 

In the first decades after the 1917 Revolution, a central focus of the nascent Soviet Union was the modernisation of its vast territories. Through a series of comprehensive economic development plans, the socialist state attempted to institute rapid industrialisation, collectivise agriculture, achieve nationwide literacy, and update the infrastructure of towns and cities. Artists, often working in official capacities, captured these aspirations in a variety of projects, many of which were propagandistic.

Some turned to agitational photomontage, in which photographs and images culled from mass media were spliced together to create ideologically charged designs for posters, book covers, advertisements, and postcards. Artists also made illustrations for children’s books that feature didactic tales aimed at rallying the next generation of Soviet citizens. Architects were tasked with reconceiving domestic and civic spaces in order to advance a communal way of life, reflected in studies for buildings and triumphant photographs of construction. While much of this work celebrates Soviet might and ingenuity, Joseph Stalin’s repressive regime began to reign in the activities of artists and other cultural producers in the 1920s, terminating this period of utopian innovation in the early 1930s with the declaration of Socialist Realism as the official Soviet style.

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941) 'Proun 1 D' 1920

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941)
Proun 1 D
1920
One from a portfolio of eleven lithographs
Composition: 8 7/16 x 10 9/16″ (21.5 x 26.9 cm); sheet: 13 1/2 x 17 5/8″ (34.3 x 44.7 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Vincent d’Aquila and Harry Soviak Bequest, by exchange, Committee on Prints and Illustrated Books Fund, Orentreich Family Foundation, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Endowment, Mrs. Sash A. Spencer, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Peter H. Friedland, Maud I. Welles, Deborah Wye Endowment Fund, Riva Castlemen Endowment Fund, Lily Auchincloss Fund, Monroe Wheeler Fund, and John M. Shapiro
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941) 'Proun 19D' 1920 or 1921

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941)
Proun 19D
1920 or 1921
Gesso, oil, varnish, crayon, colored papers, sandpaper, graph paper, cardboard, metallic paint, and metal foil on plywood
38 3/8 x 38 1/4″ (97.5 x 97.2 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Katherine S. Dreier Bequest

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko. 'Spatial Construction no. 12' c. 1920

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Spatial Construction no. 12
c. 1920
Plywood, open construction partially painted with aluminum paint, and wire
24 x 33 x 18 1/2″ (61 x 83.7 x 47 cm)
Acquisition made possible through the extraordinary efforts of George and Zinaida Costakis, and through the Nate B. and Frances Spingold, Matthew H. and Erna Futter, and Enid A. Haupt Funds

 

 

The nesting ovals that compose this construction were measured out on a single sheet of aluminium-painted plywood, precisely cut, then rotated and suspended to make a three-dimensional object suggestive of planetary orbits. It was made at a time of both civic turmoil and great possibility in Russia, when Rodchenko and his fellow Constructivist artists sought to apply aesthetic ideals to everyday materials. They hoped their approach to art would help create a new language for the Communist state. Reflecting back on this time, Rodchenko said, “We created a new understanding of beauty, and enlarged the concept of art.”

 

Nikolai Suetin (Russian, 1897-1954) 'Teapot' c. 1923

 

Nikolai Suetin (Russian, 1897-1954)
Teapot
c. 1923
Porcelain with overglaze painted decoration
5 1/2 x 4 1/2″ (14 x 11.4 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Estée and Joseph Lauder Design Fund

 

Installation view of 'A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde'. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 3, 2016-March 12, 2017

Installation view of 'A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde'. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 3, 2016-March 12, 2017

Installation view of 'A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde'. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 3, 2016-March 12, 2017

Installation view of 'A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde'. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 3, 2016-March 12, 2017

 

Installation views of A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 3, 2016-March 12, 2017
© 2016 The Museum of Modern Art
Photo: Robert Gerhardt

 

 

The Museum of Modern Art presents A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde, an exhibition that brings together 260 works from MoMA’s collection, tracing the arc of a period of artistic innovation between 1912 and 1935. The exhibition will be on view December 3, 2016 – March 12, 2017. Planned in anticipation of the centennial year of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the exhibition highlights breakthrough developments in the conception of Suprematism and Constructivism, as well as in avant-garde poetry, theater, photography, and film, by such figures as Alexandra Exter, Natalia Goncharova, El Lissitzky, Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Lyubov Popova, Alexandr Rodchenko, Olga Rozanova, Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg, and Dziga Vertov, among others. The exhibition features a rich cross-section of works across several mediums – opening with displays of pioneering non-objective paintings, prints, and drawings from the years leading up to and immediately following the Revolution, followed by a suite of galleries featuring photography, film, graphic design, and utilitarian objects, a transition that reflects the shift of avant-garde production in the 1920s. Made in response to changing social and political conditions, these works probe and suggest the myriad ways that a revolution can manifest itself in an object. A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde is organized by Roxana Marcoci, Senior Curator, Department of Photography, and Sarah Suzuki, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints; with Hillary Reder, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints.

A series of works by artists including Natalia Goncharova and her husband and artistic collaborator Mikhail Larionov open the exhibition. Goncharova and Larionov sought to combine Western European developments such as Cubism and Futurism with a distinctly Russian character, drawing on history, folklore, and religious motifs for inspiration. One outgrowth of their efforts was Rayonism, an abstract style that derived its name from the use of dynamic rays of contrasting colour, exemplified in Goncharova’s Rayonism, Blue-Green Forest (1913). A hallmark of this period was a fertile collaboration between painters and poets that resulted in illustrated books, also on view in the exhibition. These collaborations rejected fine-art book traditions in favour of small, distinctly handmade volumes, such as the rare book Worldbackwards (1912), shown in an astonishing four variations, each with a unique, collaged cover.

Radical new efforts in painting and poetry are also featured, such as an unpublished, uncut sheet from poets Aleksei Kruchenykh and Velimir Khlebnikov’s Te li le (1914), with images by Olga Rozanova. The sheet features a poetic language conceived in 1913 by the pair called Zaum (“transrational,” “beyonsense,” or “transreason”), which frees letters and words from specific meanings, instead emphasising their aural and visual qualities. Painters likewise sought to push their medium to its limits, dismissing the strictures of realism and rationality in favour of advancing new abstract forms. The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings 0.10 (zeroten), held in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) in December 1915, highlighted two new models of abstraction. One, developed by Vladimir Tatlin, focused on a group of nonrepresentational Counter-Reliefs (“reliefs with a particular pronounced tension”). An example can be found in the exhibition in the exceedingly rare Brochure for Tatlin’s counter-reliefs exhibited at 0.10 (1915). The other, proposed by Kazimir Malevich, unveiled a radically new mode of abstract painting that abandoned reference to the outside world in favour of coloured geometric shapes floating against white backgrounds. Because this new style claimed supremacy over the forms of nature, Malevich called it Suprematism. The exhibition includes Malevich’s Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying (1915), which was featured in 0.10, and Suprematist Composition: White on White (1918), which ranks among the most iconoclastic paintings of its day.

While Suprematism’s focus on pure form had a spiritual bent, the adherents of Constructivism privileged the creation of utilitarian objects with orderly, geometric designs. In 1918, Rodchenko made Non-Objective Painting no. 80 (Black on Black), one of a series of eight black paintings he conceived in direct response to the group of white paintings by Malevich. By eliminating colour almost completely, Rodchenko underscored the material quality of the painting’s surface. Around this time, he also produced a series of “spatial constructions” focused on kineticism, marking a significant leap from his exploration of the painted surface to three-dimensional objects. 5 x 5 = 25: An Exhibition of Painting (1921), a brochure for an exhibition of the same title, typed by Varvara Stepanova, features contributions from Rodchenko, Lyubov Popova, Alexandra Exter, and Aleksandr Vesnin. Held in Moscow at the All-Russian Union of Poets in September 1921, the exhibition featured five works by each of the five participants, and was the Constructivist group’s last presentation of painting.

Between 1919 and 1927 El Lissitzky produced a large body of paintings, prints, and drawings that he referred to as Proun, an acronym for “Project for the Affirmation of the New” in Russian. A particular highlight is the portfolio Proun (1920), made during Lissitzky’s short but prolific period working at the art school in Vitebsk, alongside Malevich. Lissitzky asserted Proun is “the station on the way to the construction of a new form,” and in these lithographs, he arranges geometric forms in dynamic, overlapping relationships to create imagined spaces. It will be the first time this rare portfolio, acquired in 2013, will be on view. New developments in theater are surveyed through the example of Alexandra Exter, an artist deeply engaged with theatrical design and production, including several examples of her innovative set designs and costumes for the science-fiction film Aelita (1924). These are shown alongside prints from Lissitzky’s portfolio Victory Over the Sun, which he made after seeing a 1920 restaging of the seminal Cubo-Futurist opera of the same name, and features characters from the production transformed into “electromechanical” figurines.

As the 1920s progressed, photography and film surpassed painting and sculpture as the chosen medium for the avant-garde, moving works from the studio to the public sphere. The exhibition includes an in-depth look at Soviet avant-garde cinema, in a gallery that features clips from seminal films by Alexander Dovzhenko, Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin, and Dziga Vertov, highlighting a variety of strategies in montage, including disjunctive cutting, extreme close-ups, unusual angles, and image superimposition. At this time, Lissitzky began to describe his work as fotopis (painting with photographs), a neologism that first appeared in the title of a maquette for a mural version of Record (1926), a photomontage included in the show. After turning away from painting, Rodchenko also found new means to build networks of communication – in photographs and book design. He collaborated with the progressive writers Nikolai Aseev, Osip Brik, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Sergei Tret’iakov on covers and layouts for the journal Novyi LEF (1927-28), a complete run of which is on view. Eschewing the conventional belly-button view in his photographs, Rodchenko’s pictures of this era – such as Mother (1924), Assembling for a Demonstration (1928-30), and Pioneer Girl (1930) – favour dynamic camera angles. Advocating for a cinematic, fractured representation of his subjects, Rodchenko also tried his hand at film, designing inter-titles for Dziga Vertov’s Kino-Pravda newsreel series.

The ideology of the Revolution touched all aspects of daily life, from economy to education. The most significant artists of the day, in accordance with state orders, were soon applying avant-garde tactics to create propagandistic work that would be easily comprehensible to the Soviet public at large. The final gallery of the exhibition contains this kind of material, including children’s books created by Vladimir Lebedev and Samuil Marshak, whose book designs balanced sophistication and accessibility, drawing on Cubism and Suprematism, with stories that nourished the intellectual and visual imagination. Also on view are film posters, by the brothers Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg, which feature radical uses of typography and colour, underscoring the relationship between graphic arts and the burgeoning Soviet cinema. The Constructivist architect Iakov Chernikov applied his ideas to imagine a future reflecting the avant-garde culture of the new Soviet Union. His Architectural Fantasies: 101 Compositions in Color, 101 Architectural Miniatures (1933) featured here, however, never had a chance to materialise. Joseph Stalin’s repressive regime effectively put an end to Constructivism and other avant-garde activities in the cultural sphere by the mid-1930s.

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941) 'Announcer (Ansager)' 1923

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941)
Announcer (Ansager) from Figurines: The Three-Dimensional Design of the Electro-Mechanical Show “Victory over the Sun” (Figurinen, die plastische Gestaltung der elektro-mechanischen Schau “Sieg über die Sonne”)
1920-21, published 1923
One from a portfolio of ten lithographs
Composition (irreg.): 13 3/4 x 11 7/8″ (35 x 30.2 cm); sheet: 21 x 18″ (53.3 x 45.7 cm)
Purchase

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941) 'The Globetrotter' 1923

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941)
The Globetrotter from Figurines: Plastic Representations of the Electro-Mechanical Production Entitled “Victory over the Sun” (Figurinen, die plastische Gestaltung der elektro-mechanischen Schau “Sieg über die Sonne”)
1920-21, published 1923
One from a portfolio of ten lithographs
Composition (irreg.): 14 3/16 x 10 1/4″ (36 x 26 cm); sheet: 21 x 17 7/8″ (53.3 x 45.4cm)
Purchase

 

Alexandra Exter. 'Construction' 1922-23

 

Alexandra Exter
Construction
1922-23
Oil on canvas
35 1/8 x 35 3/8″ (89.2 x 89.9 cm)
The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956) 'Pro eto. Ei i mne' (About This. To Her and to Me) "Pro eto" by Vladimir Mayakovsky 1923

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Pro eto. Ei i mne (About This. To Her and to Me)
“Pro eto” by Vladimir Mayakovsky
1923
Book with letterpress cover and illustrations
Overall (closed): 9 1/16 x 6 1/8 x 1/8″ (23 x 15.5 x 0.3 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of The Judith Rothschild Foundation

 

 

Yakov Protozanov
Aelita Queen of Mars
NTSC
1924

 

Alexandra Exter "Guardian of Energy" 1924

 

Alexandra Exter
“Guardian of Energy” (costume design for the film “Aelita” by Yakov Protozanov)
1924
Ink, gouache, and pencil on paper
21 1/4 x 14 1/4″ (54 x 36.2 cm)
The J. M. Kaplan Fund, Inc.

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko. 'Mother' 1924

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Mother
1924
Gelatin silver print
8 7/8 x 6 1/2″ (22.5 x 16.5 cm)
Gift of the Rodchenko family
© 2017 Aleksandr Rodchenko/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941) 'Record' 1926

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941)
Record
1926
Gelatin silver print
10 1/2 x 8 13/16″ (26.7 x 22.4 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walther
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941) 'Self-Portrait' 1924

 

El Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941)
Self-Portrait
1924
Gelatin silver print
5 1/2 x 3 1/2″ (13.9 x 8.9 cm)
Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Shirley C. Burden, by exchange

 

 

The essence of New Vision photography is pointedly expressed in this picture, commonly known as The Constructor, which puts the act of seeing at center stage. Lissitzky’s hand, holding a compass, is superimposed on a shot of his head that explicitly highlights his eye: insight, it expresses, is passed through the eye and transmitted to the hand, and through it to the tools of production. Devised from six different exposures, the picture merges Lissitzky’s personae as photographer (eye) and constructor of images (hand) into a single likeness. Contesting the idea that straight photography provides a single, unmediated truth, Lissitzky held instead that montage, with its layering of one meaning over another, impels the viewer to reconsider the world. It thus marks a conceptual shift in the understanding of what a picture can be.

Gallery label from The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook, April 16, 2012–April 29, 2013

 

 

The (painted) picture fell apart together with the old world which it had created for itself. The new world will not need little pictures. If it needs a mirror, it has the photograph and the cinema.

.
El Lissitzky

 

 

By the mid-1920s, leading figures of the Soviet vanguard extolled photography, theater, and film as quintessential mediums of the future. Eager to answer Lenin’s call to build a new Soviet mass culture in the wake of the Revolution, artists embraced performative and lens-based mediums for their democratising potential. They also seized the opportunity presented by stage and costume design to realise Constructivist principles in real space.

Film, one of the most experimental mediums of these years, wielded a profound influence on Soviet visual culture, particularly graphic design and photography, as well as on international cinema. Dziga Vertov redefined still and motion-picture photography with the concept of kino-glaz (cine-eye), according to which the camera lens creates a novel perception of the world. Aleksandr Rodchenko was likewise inspired by photography’s ability to energise audiences with its thrilling images of a transformed reality, which he shaped with distinctive strategies: unconventional camera angles, radical foreshortening, and close-ups. Rodchenko’s commitment to mass communication is also manifest in his engagement with the illustrated press, exemplified by his cover and layout designs for the avant-garde journal Novyi Lef.

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956) Cover design for 'Novyi LEF: Journal of the Left Front of the Arts', no. 1 1928

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Cover design for Novyi LEF: Journal of the Left Front of the Arts, no. 1
1928
Letterpress
Page: 9 1/16 x 6″ (23 x 15.2 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of The Judith Rothschild Foundation

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko. 'Novyi LEF. Zhurnal levogo fronta iskusstv' (New LEF: Journal of the Left Front of the Arts), no. 7 1927

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko
Novyi LEF. Zhurnal levogo fronta iskusstv (New LEF: Journal of the Left Front of the Arts), no. 7
1927
Journal with letterpress cover and illustrations
Page: 8 15/16 x 5 15/16″ (22.7 x 15.1 cm)
Publisher: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo, Moscow
Gift of The Judith Rothschild Foundation

 

 

Sergei Eisenstein (Russian, 1898-1948)
Potemkin
1925
35mm film (black and white and hand-colored, silent)
75 min.
Acquired from Reichsfilmarchiv

 

 

Vsevolod Pudovkin (Russian, 1893-1953)
Mat (Mother)
1926
35mm film (black and white, silent)
90 min.
Acquired from N.I.S., Soyuzintorkino, Moscow 1985

 

 

Mother (1926) [film based on Maxim Gorky’s famous novel]

In this film, the mother of Pavel Vlasov is drawn into the revolutionary conflict when her husband and son find themselves on opposite sides during a worker’s strike. After her husband dies during the failed strike, she betrays her son’s ideology in order to try, in vain, to save his life. He is arrested, tried in what amounts to a judicial farce, and sentenced to heavy labor in a prison camp. During his incarceration, his mother aligns herself with him and his ideology and joins the revolutionaries. In the climax of the movie, the mother and hundreds of others march to the prison in order to free the prisoners, who are aware of the plan and have planned their escape. Ultimately, the troops of the Tsar suppress the uprising, killing both mother and son in the final scenes.

 

 

Esther Shub (Ukrainian, 1894-1959)
The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty
1927
35mm film (black and white, silent)

 

Gustav Klutsis (Russian, born Latvia) 'Memorial to Fallen Leaders' 1927

 

Gustav Klutsis (Russian, born Latvia)
Memorial to Fallen Leaders
1927
Cover with lithographed photomontage illustrations on front and back
13 1/2 x 10 1/4″ (34.3 x 26 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of The Judith Rothschild Foundation
© 2016 / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Vladimir Stenberg (Russian, 1899-1982) and Georgii Stenberg (Russian, 1900-1933) 'Symphony of a Big City' 1928

 

Vladimir Stenberg (Russian, 1899-1982) and Georgii Stenberg (Russian, 1900-1933)
Symphony of a Big City
1928
Lithograph
41 x 27 1/4″ (104 x 69 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Marshall Cogan Purchase Fund

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko. 'Untitled' 1927

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko
Untitled
1927
Gelatin silver print
8 11/16 x 5 13/16″ (22.1 x 14.8 cm)
Gift of the Rodchenko family

 

Semyon Fridlyand. 'In the Gallery' 1927

 

Semyon Fridlyand
In the Gallery
1927
Gelatin silver print
8 9/16 x 6 5/8″ (21.7 x 16.8 cm)
Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Harold Edgerton, by exchange

 

 

Dziga Vertov (Russian, 1895-1954)
The Man with the Movie Camera
1929
35mm film (black and white, silent)
Acquired on exchange with Gosfilmofund

 

 

Man with a Movie Camera is an experimental 1929 silent documentary film, with no story and no actors by Soviet-Russian director Dziga Vertov, edited by his wife Elizaveta Svilova. Vertov’s feature film, produced by the film studio VUFKU, presents urban life in the Soviet cities of Kiev, Kharkov, Moscow and Odessa. From dawn to dusk Soviet citizens are shown at work and at play, and interacting with the machinery of modern life. To the extent that it can be said to have “characters,” they are the cameramen of the title, the film editor, and the modern Soviet Union they discover and present in the film.

This film is famous for the range of cinematic techniques Vertov invents, deploys or develops, such as double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, footage played backwards, stop motion animations and self-reflexive visuals (at one point it features a split-screen tracking shot; the sides have opposite Dutch angles).

In the British Film Institute’s 2012 Sight & Sound poll, film critics voted Man with a Movie Camera the 8th best film ever made. In 2014 Sight & Sound also named it the best documentary of all time.

 

Dziga Vertov (Russian, 1895-1954) 'The Man with the Movie Camera' 1929

 

Dziga Vertov (Russian, 1895-1954)
The Man with the Movie Camera
1929
35mm film (black and white, silent)
Acquired on exchange with Gosfilmofund

 

 

Alexander Dovzhenko (Russian, born Russia (Chernigov province) 1894-1956)
Zemlya (Earth)
1930
35mm film (black and white, silent)
62 min.
Acquired from Gosfilmofond

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956) 'Pioneer with a Bugle' 1930

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Pioneer with a Bugle
1930
Gelatin silver print
9 1/4 x 7 1/16″ (23.5 x 18 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Rodchenko Family

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko. 'Pioneer Girl' 1930

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Pioneer Girl
1930
Gelatin silver print
19 1/2 x 14 9/16″ (49.6 x 37 cm)
Gift of Alex Lachmann and friends of the Rodchenko family

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko. 'Assembling for a Demonstration' 1928-30

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Assembling for a Demonstration
1928-30
Gelatin silver print
19 1/2 x 13 7/8″ (49.5 x 35.3 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John Spencer Fund

 

Iakov Chernikhov. 'Arkhitekturnye Fantazii' before 1933 Letterpress

 

Iakov Chernikhov
Arkhitekturnye Fantazii
before 1933
Letterpress
12 x 8 7/8″ (30.5 x 22.5 cm)
Arthur A. Cohen Purchase Fund

 

 

In his introduction to Architectural Fantasies: 101 Compositions, Iakov Chernikov’s sixth and final volume on design theory, he defended the significance of visionary paper architecture: “Not without reason, however, have great thinkers of all times accorded vast importance to fantasy, as being the forerunner of any kind of progress. To look one-sidedly at the idea of fantasy and not to consider its positive role in all fields of culture and art-this is to make a great mistake.” For Chernikov the fantasy drawing offered the architect an effective means of liberating himself from convention and imagining a future reflecting the avant-garde culture of the new Soviet Union.

As a Constructivist, and like contemporaries such as Kasimir Malevich and El Lissitzky, Chernikov was possessed by the powers of abstraction and geometry. This is reflected in the phrase Combination of curvilinear and rectilinear forms along principles of design, the rather perfunctory subtitle for Complex Architectural Invention (composition no. 49 from Architectural Fantasies): this is a formal composition based on line (curved or straight), plane, surface, body, and volume. The excitement and brilliance of Chernikov’s fantasy lie in his dynamic handling of diagonal lines, ellipses, and bright colors, presented in a dizzying axonometric view. The imagery, unabashedly industrial in character yet devoid of any context or program, is remarkably fresh and pregnant with possibility.

In producing his Architectural Fantasies Chernikov was interested not only in self-discovery but in inspiring his viewers. The seeds of his fantasies, however, never had a chance to germinate in the Soviet Union: Stalin’s repressive regime, which effectively put an end to Constructivism in the 1930s, favored a banal architecture based on monumental classicism and Social Realism. The potential of Architectural Fantasies lay dormant until Chernikov and other Constructivist architects were “rediscovered” in the 1980s, inspiring a new generation of architects worldwide in a movement that was labeled “deconstructivist.”

Publication excerpt from Matilda McQuaid, ed., Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, pp. 78-79

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko. 'Dive' 1934

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Dive
1934
Gelatin silver print
11 3/4 x 9 5/16″ (29.9 x 23.6 cm)
Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Shirley C. Burden, by exchange

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko. 'Dive' 1934

 

Aleksandr Rodchenko (Russian, 1891-1956)
Dive
1934
Gelatin silver print
11 11/16 x 9 3/8″ (29.7 x 23.8 cm)
Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Shirley C. Burden, by exchange

 

 

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24
Jun
15

Exhibition: ‘Fabergé: Jeweler to the Tsars’ at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City

Exhibition dates: 20th June – 27th September 2015

 

Even after nearly six years of making this website, I still get a thrill bringing you the next posting.

And what a posting it is.

Even as their countrymen lay starving in the cities and dying on the fields of battle in World War One, the Romanov’s still kept spending. Oh how the once mighty fell in a heap of their own making. But sometimes you just need a bit of dynastic, debauched (and beautiful) bling to brighten your capitalist day … and to remind you that nothing lasts forever and karma will always have its way.

As a t-shirt in an op-shop that I saw today said, “Workers … possess the power.” And that is why governments, tyrants and despotic royalty will always be afraid of them.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Pavel Ovchinnikov. 'The Holy Virgin of Kazan, Saint Prince Aleksandr Nevskii, Saint Mary Magdalene' 1891

 

Pavel Ovchinnikov (1830-1888)
The Holy Virgin of Kazan, Saint Prince Aleksandr Nevskii, Saint Mary Magdalene
1891
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt.
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Pavel Ovchinnikov (1830-1888), Russian jeweller, silversmith, goldsmith, enameller, merchant, industrialist. Hallmark: П.О. or П.Овчинниковъ in a rectangle. Trained in his brother’s workshop and opened a factory in Moscow, where he revived the art of enamelling and worked in the Neo-Russian style. Official purveyor to Tsar Alexander III, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich, King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and King Christian IX of Denmark. Awarded the Légion d’honneur and the Order of the Iron Crown. Member of the Moscow City Duma.

Alexander Yaroslavich Nevsky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Яросла́вич Не́вский; pronounced [ɐlʲɪˈksandr jɪrɐˈslavʲɪtɕ ˈnʲɛfskʲɪj] Ukrainian: Олександр Ярославович Не́вський); 13 May 1221 – 14 November 1263) served as Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kiev and Grand Prince of Vladimir during some of the most difficult times in Kievan Rus’ history.

Commonly regarded as a key figure of medieval Rus’, Alexander – the grandson of Vsevolod the Big Nest – rose to legendary status on account of his military victories over German and Swedish invaders while agreeing to pay tribute to the powerful Golden Horde. He was proclaimed as a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church by Metropolite Macarius in 1547. Popular polls rank Alexander Nevsky as the greatest Russian hero in history.

 

Russian. 'Imperial Diamond Brooch' 1890–1910

 

Russian
Imperial Diamond Brooch
1890-1910
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Russian. 'Crown Brooch' 1890-1910

 

Russian
Crown Brooch
1890-1910
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Elephant Box' before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Elephant Box
before 1899
Nephrite, ivory, gold, rubies, diamonds
3.75 x 4 (diameter) in. (9.53 x 10.16 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Upon the death of Hiskias Pendin in 1882, Carl Fabergé took sole responsibility for running the company. Carl was awarded the title Master Goldsmith, which permitted him to use his own hallmark in addition to that of the firm. Carl Fabergé’s reputation was so high that the normal three-day examination was waived. For several years, Carl Faberge’s main assistant in the designing of jewellery was his younger brother, Agathon Faberge (1862-1895), who had also trained in Dresden.

Carl and Agathon were a sensation at the Pan-Russian Exhibition held in Moscow in 1882. Carl was awarded a gold medal and the St. Stanisias Medal. One of the Fabergé pieces displayed was a replica of a 4th-century BC gold bangle from the Scythian Treasure in the Hermitage. The Tsar declared that he could not distinguish the Fabergé’s work from the original and ordered that objects by the House of Fabergé should be displayed in the Hermitage as examples of superb contemporary Russian craftsmanship. The House of Fabergé with its range of jewels was now within the focus of Russia’s Imperial Court.

When Peter Carl took over the House, there was a move from producing jewellery in the then fashionable French 18th century style, to becoming artist-jewellers. Having acquired the title of Supplier to the Court from Tsar Alexander III on May 1, 1885, Fabergé had full access to the important Hermitage Collection, where he was able not only to study but also to find inspiration for developing his unique style. Influenced by the jewelled bouquets created by the eighteenth century goldsmiths, Jean-Jacques Duval and Jérémie Pauzié, Fabergé re-worked their ideas, combining them with his accurate observations and fascination for Japanese art. This resulted in reviving the lost art of enamelling and concentrating on setting every single stone in a piece to its best advantage. Indeed, it was not unusual for Agathon to make ten or more wax models so that all possibilities could be exhausted before deciding on a final design. Shortly after Agathon joined the firm, the House introduced objects deluxe: gold bejewelled items embellished with enamel ranging from electric bell pushes to cigarette cases, including objects de fantaisie.

In 1885, Tsar Alexander III gave the House of Fabergé the title; ‘Goldsmith by special appointment to the Imperial Crown’.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Elephant Box' (detail) before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Elephant Box (detail)
before 1899
Nephrite, ivory, gold, rubies, diamonds
3.75 x 4 (diameter) in. (9.53 x 10.16 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Monumental Kovsh' 1899–1908

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Monumental Kovsh
1899-1908
Silver, chrysoprase, amethyst
15 x 27.5 x 12.25 in. (38.10 x 69.85 x 31.12 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Monumental Kovsh' (detail) 1899-1908

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Monumental Kovsh (detail)
1899-1908
Silver, chrysoprase, amethyst
15 x 27.5 x 12.25 in. (38.10 x 69.85 x 31.12 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

The Kovsh is a traditional drinking vessel or ladle from Russia. It was oval-shaped like a boat with a single handle and may be shaped like a water bird or a norse longship. Originally the Kovsh made from wood and used to serve and drink mead, with specimens excavated from as early as the tenth century. Metal Kovsh began to appear around the 14th century, although it also continued to be carved out of wood and was frequently brightly painted in peasant motifs. By the 17th century, the Kovsh was often an ornament rather than a practical vessel, and in the 19th century it was elaborately cast in precious metals for presentation as an official gift of the tsarist government.

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Star Frame' before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Star Frame
before 1899
Gold, enamel, pearls, glass, ivory
3 x 2.625 x 3.5625 (diameter) in (7.62 x 6.67 x 9.05 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Star Frame' (detail) before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Star Frame (detail)
before 1899
Gold, enamel, pearls, glass, ivory
3 x 2.625 x 3.5625 (diameter) in (7.62 x 6.67 x 9.05 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840–1917). 'Plate' 1899–1908

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917)
Plate
1899-1908
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Feodor Ivanovich Rückert, Russian silver- and goldsmith of German origin, Fabergé workmaster. Born in Moscow in 1840. Worked with Carl Fabergé from 1887. His mark Ф.Р. (F.R. in Russian Cyrillic) can be found on cloisonné enamel objects made in Moscow, sold independently or by Fabergé.

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840–1917). 'Plate' (detail) 1899–1908

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917)
Plate (detail)
1899-1908
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

“More than 230 rare and storied treasures created by the House of Fabergé will be celebrated in a new exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Fabergé: Jeweler to the Tsars will be on view from June 20 through September 27, 2015. The exhibition, drawn from the Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, will showcase Karl Fabergé’s fine craftsmanship in pieces of jewelry and adornments once belonging to the Russian Imperial family.

“This exhibition represents a double honor for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art – the opportunity to collaborate with the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and to showcase the largest Fabergé collection outside of Russia,” said E. Michael Whittington, OKCMOA President and CEO. “The technical and artistic virtuosity of the Fabergé workshop is without parallel. Individually, these objects are breathtaking. Collectively, they represent a unique window into an empire and subsequent revolution that dramatically altered 20th century history. We are proud to present such an extraordinary collection of treasures to our community.”

From dazzling Imperial Easter eggs to delicate flower ornaments and from enchanting animal sculptures to cigarette cases, photograph frames and desk clocks, Fabergé often turned the most mundane objects into miniature works of art. The vast majority of his designs were never repeated, and most pieces were made entirely by hand. The success of his business was inextricably linked to the patronage of the Romanov dynasty and the close ties among the British, Danish and Russian royal families, who often exchanged works by Fabergé as personal gifts.

The Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg of 1912, which will be on view at OKCMOA, was a gift to Empress Alexandra from her husband, Emperor Nicholas II. The egg commemorates their son, Alexsei, who nearly died the previous year of hemophilia. For the shell, craftsmen joined six wedges of highly prized lapis lazuli and hid the seams with an elaborate gold filigree encasement. Inside the egg, a diamond encrusted Romanov family crest frames a two-sided portrait of the young child.

These objects were associated with refinement and luxury because the House of Fabergé was known for accepting nothing less than perfection as well as for being business savvy. Beyond the elegant showrooms in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, hundreds of the country’s finest goldsmiths, enamellers, stone carvers, gem cutters and jewelers were at work creating innovative and complex designs that could not be readily imitated.

The presence of the Romanov family – Emperor Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra and their five children – is most intimately felt in the exhibition through the display of more than 40 family photographs held in enameled Fabergé frames. These family photographs and jewels were some of the only possessions the Romanovs took with them when they were forced out of St. Petersburg during the Revolution. In an effort to preserve their wealth, the Romanov daughters are said to have sewn Fabergé jewels into their undergarments. In the end, their diamond-lined corsets managed to prolong their execution and sealed the fate for the inevitable fall of the dynasty.”

Press release from the Oklahoma City Museum of Art

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Christ Pantocrator,' 1914–17

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Christ Pantocrator
1914-17
Oil on panel, silver gilt, filigree silver, precious and semiprecious stones, seed pearls
11.875 x 10.125 in. (30.16 x 25.72 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

In Christian iconography, Christ Pantocrator refers to a specific depiction of Christ. Pantocrator or Pantokrator (Greek: Παντοκράτωρ) is, used in this context, a translation of one of many names of God in Judaism. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek as the Septuagint, Pantokrator was used both for YHWH Sabaoth “Lord of Hosts” and for El Shaddai “God Almighty”. In the New Testament, Pantokrator is used once by Paul (2 Cor 6:18). Aside from that one occurrence, the author of the Book of Revelation is the only New Testament author to use the word Pantokrator. The author of Revelation uses the word nine times, and while the references to God and Christ in Revelation are at times interchangeable, Pantokrator appears to be reserved for God alone.

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846–1920). 'Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg' 1903

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Mikhail Perkhin, Workmaster Russian , 1860-1903
Vasilii Zuiev, Painter of miniatures Russian , 1870-unknown
Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg
1903
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Peter, the Great Egg, is a jewelled Easter egg made under the supervision of the Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé in 1903, for the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II. Tsar Nicholas presented the egg to his wife, the Czarina Alexandra Fyodorovna. Made in the Rococo style, the Peter the Great Egg celebrated the two-hundredth anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg in 1703.

Executed in gold, the curves are set with diamonds and rubies. The body of the egg is covered in laurel leaves and bulrushes that are chased in 14-carat green gold. These symbolize the source of the “living waters”. The spikyheads are set with square rubies. White enamel ribbons inscribed with historical details encircle the egg. On the top of the egg is an enameled wreath which encircles Nicholas II’s monogram. The bottom of the egg is adorned with the double-headed imperial eagle, made of black enamel and crowned with two diamonds.

The paintings representing the “before” and “after” of St. Petersburg in 1703 and 1903. The front painting features the extravagant Winter Palace, the official residence of Nicholas II two hundred years after the founding of St. Petersburg. Opposite this, on the back of the egg, is a painting of the log cabin believed to be built by Peter the Great himself, representative of the founding of St. Petersburg on the banks of the Neva River. On the sides of the egg are portraits of Peter the Great in 1703 and Nicholas II in 1903. Each of the miniatures is covered by rock crystal. The dates 1703 and 1903, worked in diamonds, appear on either side of the lid above the paintings of the log cabin and Winter Palace, respectively.

Below each painting are fluttering enamel ribbons with inscriptions in black Cyrillic letters. The inscriptions include: “The Emperor Peter the Great, born in 1672, founding St. Petersburg in 1703”, “The first little house of the Emperor Peter the Great in 1703”, “The Emperor Nicholas II born in the 1868 ascended the throne in 1894” and “The Winter Palace of His Imperial Majesty in 1903.”

The surprise is that when the egg is opened, a mechanism within raises a miniature gold model of Peter the Great’s monument on the Neva, resting on a base of sapphire. The model was made by Gerogii Malychevin. The reason for this choice of surprise is the story of a legend from the 19th century that says enemy forces will never take St. Petersburg while the “Bronze Horseman” stands in the middle of the city.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg' (detail) 1903

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Mikhail Perkhin, Workmaster Russian , 1860-1903
Vasilii Zuiev, Painter of miniatures Russian , 1870-unknown
Imperial Peter the Great Easter Egg (detail)
1903
Gold, platinum, diamonds, rubies, enamel, bronze, sapphire, watercolor on ivory, rock crystal
4.25 x 3.125 (diameter) in. (10.80 x 7.94 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg' 1912

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Henrik Wigström Russian, 1862-1923
Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg
1912
Lapis lazuli, gold, diamonds, platinum or silver
5.75 x 4 (diameter) in. (on stand) (14.61 x 10.16 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

The Imperial Tsesarevich Easter Egg, created by workmaster Henrik Wigström, has six lapis lazuli segments with doubleheaded eagles, winged caryatids, hanging canopies, scrolls, flower baskets, and sprays that conceal the joints. It is set with a large solitaire diamond at the base, and a table diamond (a thin, flat diamond) on top over the Cyrillic monogram AF (for Alexandra Feodorovna) and the date 1912. The surprise found inside is a portrait painted on ivory, front and back, of the tsesarevich in a diamond-set, double-headed eagle standing on a lapis lazuli pedestal. In addition to assisting Perkhin with 26 imperial eggs, Henrik Wigström produced 20 to 21 additional eggs between 1906 and 1916, including this masterpiece.

Henrik Immanuel Wigström (1862-1923) was one of the most important Fabergé workmasters along with Michael Perchin. Perchin was the head workmaster from 1886 until his death in 1903, when he was succeeded by his chief assistant Henrik Wigstrom. These two workmasters were responsible for almost all the imperial Easter eggs.

Once in Madsén’s employment, his master’s trade with Russia, as well as his numerous business contacts here, brought him to work in St. Petersburg. It is unknown who employed Wigström on his arrival in the capital, but Wigström became assistant in 1884, at the age of 22, to Perchin, whose shop at that time was already working exclusively for Fabergé. Wigström became head workmaster at Fabergé after Perchin’s death in 1903. The number of craftsmen in Wigström’s workshop diminished drastically with the outbreak of World War I. By 1918, the Revolution forced the complete closing of the House of Fabergé. Aged 56, Wigström retreated almost empty-handed to his summer house, on Finnish territory, and died there in 1923.

His art is similar to Perchin’s but tends to be in the Louis XVI, Empire, or neo-classical style. Nearly all the Fabergé hardstone animals, figures and flowers from that time period were produced under his supervision.

 

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Imperial Pelican Easter Egg' 1897

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Mikhail Perkhin, Workmaster Russian , 1860-1903
Johannes Zehngraf, Painter of miniatures Russian, 1857-1908
Imperial Pelican Easter Egg
1897
Gold, diamonds, enamel, pearls, watercolor on ivory
4 x 2.125 (diameter) in. (10.16 x 5.40 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Michael Evlampievich Perchin (Russian: Михаил Евлампьевич Перхин) (1860-1903) was born in Okulovskaya in Olonets Governorate (now Republic of Karelia) and died in St. Petersburg. He was one of the most important Fabergé workmasters along with Henrik Wigström. Perchin became the leading workmaster in the House of Fabergé in 1886 and supervised production of the eggs until his death in 1903. The eggs he was responsible for were marked with his initials.

He worked initially as a journeyman in the workshop of Erik August Kollin. In 1884 he qualified as a master craftsman and his artistic potential must have been obvious to Fabergé who appointed him head workmaster in 1886. His workshop produced all types of objets de fantasie in gold, enamel and hard stones. All the important commissions of the time, including some of the Imperial Easter Eggs, the renowned “Fabergé eggs”, were made in his workshop. His period as head Fabergé workmaster is generally acknowledged to be the most artistically innovative, with a huge range of styles from neo-Rococo to Renaissance.

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Imperial Pelican Easter Egg' (detail) 1897

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Mikhail Perkhin, Workmaster Russian , 1860-1903
Johannes Zehngraf, Painter of miniatures Russian , 1857-1908
Imperial Pelican Easter Egg (detail)
1897
Gold, diamonds, enamel, pearls, watercolor on ivory
4 x 2.125 (diameter) in. (10.16 x 5.40 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

Johannes Zehngraf (born April 18, 1857 in Nykøbing Falster, Denmark; † February 7, 1908 in Berlin) was a Danish painter of miniatures and chief miniaturist in the house of Carl Peter Fabergé in St. Petersburg. He was the son of painter and photographer Christian Antoni Zehngraf  and Rebecca de Lemos and married on January 27, 1880 in Aalborg Caroline Ludovica Lund (* June 30, 1856; † after 1908), the daughter of Carl Ludvig Lund and Pouline Elisabeth Poulsen.

Zehngraf  learned in Aalborg with his father the art of photography and worked at first as a photographer, later in Aarhus, Odense and Malmö (1886-1889). The small-scale retouching his photographs led him then to miniature painting. As a miniaturist he settled down in 1889 in Berlin and counted the European royal houses to its customers. He led the photographic realism with their richness of detail in his painting. Portraits of the Russian Emperor Alexander III., His wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Danish Princess Thyra and a series of portraits of eleven miniature effigies of the Danish King Christian IX family testify to his skill. He painted, among others, the thumbnails on the Lily of the Valley Faberge Egg (1898)

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Imperial Red Cross Easter Egg with Portraits' 1915

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Henrik Wigström, Workmaster Russian, 1862-1923
Imperial Red Cross Easter Egg with Portraits
1915
Silver, enamel, gold, mother-of-pearl, watercolor on ivory, velvet lining
3 x 2.375 (diameter) in. (7.62 x 6.03 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Imperial Red Cross Easter Egg with Portraits' (detail) 1915

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Henrik Wigström, Workmaster Russian, 1862-1923
Imperial Red Cross Easter Egg with Portraits (detail)
1915
Silver, enamel, gold, mother-of-pearl, watercolor on ivory, velvet lining
3 x 2.375 (diameter) in. (7.62 x 6.03 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Ring Box' before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Ring Box
before 1899
Gold, ruby, silk
1 (height) in. (2.54 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Rooster' c. 1900

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Rooster
c. 1900
Carnelian, diamonds, gold
1.5 x 0.5 x 1.25 in. (3.81 x 1.27 x 3.18 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920) 'Rooster' (detail) c. 1900

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Rooster (detail)
c. 1900
Carnelian, diamonds, gold
1.5 x 0.5 x 1.25 in. (3.81 x 1.27 x 3.18 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Katherine Wetzel
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Miniature Easter Egg Pendant' c. 1900

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Miniature Easter Egg Pendant
c. 1900
Gold, enamel, diamonds, sapphires
0.75 (height) x 0.5 (diameter) in. (1.91 x 1.27 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Miniature Easter Egg Pendant' c. 1900

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Miniature Easter Egg Pendant
c. 1900
Chalcedony, gold, diamonds
1.35 x 0.875 (diameter) in. (3.18 x 2.22 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Cane Handle' before 1899

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Parasol Handle
before 1899
Bowenite, gold, diamonds, pearls, enamel
3¼ H x 1½ W (8.26 cm x 3.81 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Cane Handle' (detail) before 1899

 

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Parasol Handle (detail)
before 1899
Bowenite, gold, diamonds, pearls, enamel
3¼ H x 1½ W (8.26 cm x 3.81 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

The tapering, pentagonal parasol handle has panels of pink guilloché enamel painted with dendritic motifs within opaque-white enamel borders. A diamond is centered on each panel and Louis XVI-style floral decorations are set between the panels. Atop the handle is a brilliant-cut diamond finial in a rose-cut diamond surround with diamond-set fillets.

Marks : Early initials of workmaster Mikhail Perkhin, assay mark of St. Petersburg before 1899, 56 zolotnik

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920). 'Statuette of a Sailor' c. 1900

 

Peter Karl Fabergé (Russian, 1846-1920)
Statuette of a Sailor
c. 1900
Agate, obsidian, aventurine quartz, lapis lazuli, sapphire
4.625 x 2.5 in. (11.75 x 6.35 cm)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Bequest of Lillian Thomas Pratt
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840–1917). 'Loving Cup' 1899-1908

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917)
Loving Cup
1899-1908
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917) 'Loving Cup' 1899-1908

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917)
Loving Cup
1899-1908
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917) 'Loving Cup' (detail) 1899-1908

 

Fedor Rückert (Russian, 1840-1917)
Loving Cup (detail)
1899-1908
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Jerome and Rita Gans Collection of Silver
Photo: Travis Fullerton
© Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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