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Guggenheim Museum Opens Exhibition of Russian Art
Ilya Repin, Barge Haulers on the Volga, 1870–73. Oil on canvas, 51 3/4 x 110 5/8 inches. State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg. Photo: © State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.
NEW YORK, NY.–The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents RUSSIA!, the most comprehensive exhibition of Russian art ever shown in the United States, from September 16, 2005 through January 11, 2006. With more than 275 objects, this innovative exhibition features 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 also features a selection of first-class Western European paintings and sculptures from the imperial art collections assembled by Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Nicholas 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 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); 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, and Valerie Hillings, Curatorial Assistant, 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; Zelfira Tregulova, Deputy Director for Exhibitions and International Exchange, Moscow Kremlin State Historical-Cultural Museum-Preserve; 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; and Georgii Vilinbakhov, Deputy Director, the State Hermitage 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.

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. 1930–1980s (Soviet), and ca. 1990–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, Vitaly Komar & Alexander Melamid, Erik Bulatov, Oleg Kulik, and Vadim Zakharov.

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, André 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 th

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