I’ve got a special skill: I’m excellent at visiting exhibitions on their last day. 26th of September was the last day of an exhibition I’ve longed to visit since 2020. In the top photo you see my selfie between Moliere and Honore de Balzac – by Pablo Picasso and below there are several pieces from Salvador Dali’s halls. And whereas Picasso is represented at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Dali’s artwork is mostly in private collections, to my knowledge, at least. To say I was thrilled to visit the exhibition of artwork of two of my favourite painters is clearly an understatement.
Google celebrates the centenary of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts with a delicate Doodle
The impressive building of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Volkhonka St., across the road from the restored Christ the Saviour Cathedral, was solemnly opened on May 31 (June 13), 1912. The video below from the Museum’s collection shows the Emperor Nicholas II visiting the museum and being greeted by Ivan Tsvetaev, the founder of the Museum and the father of the famous Russian poet, Marina Tsvetaeva.
The initial collection was based on the copies of antique sculptures from the Moscow State University, which are now exhibited in the halls of the Ancient Art Department. As for paintings, especially the invaluable pieces by Gaugin, Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, etc, these had been transferred from St. Petersburg museums. Still more works had either been bought or donated by private collectors, which tradition continues to this day. Only recently two private collectors donated to the Pushkin Museum a painting by Dirk Hals, The Merry Company (which apparently is a version of an earlier eponymous work by his elder brother, Frank), and the only surviving work of a little-known German artist, Adam Elias Borni who painted a trompe-l’oeil artwork featuring his colleague, another German painter Dietrich. The latter work was bought in Austria, and art historians may now be able to identify other works by Borni.
I don’t remember the first ever time I visited the Pushkin Museum, although I told you how once I spent nearly 6 hours in the cold February weather to attend an exhibition by Claude Monet. The space is the biggest problem the museum will have to address in the next 6 years. There is a special 2018 Agenda that seeks to add more buildings around the original edifice. I bet many citizens and visitors would give a lot not stop queueing outside the building for hours on end.
I do, however, remember all exhibitions that I attended, which should be a good illustration to the painstaking effort of the museum and its long-term director Prof. Irina Antonova to foster partnership between the Pushkin Museum and other world art depositories. Apart from Claude Monet in 2002, I visited (in no particular order):
Pablo Picasso, A Girl on the Ball (PMFA, Moscow)
– Moscow-Berlin, photographs and paintings (1996; a review in Kommersant in Russian)
– Paul Cezanne (1999)
– USSR and USA in photographs (~1999)
– World Museums, the partners of the Pushkin Museum (1998; the exhibit included paintings by Dali and Chagall);
– an exhibition of artwork, mainly sculpture, by the wonderful Italian actress and beautiful woman, Gina Lollobrigida (?)
Speaking of different items in the collection, there is a full-size copy of Michelangelo’s statue of David, and a small hall containing quite a few paintings by Picasso, mainly from his Blue and Pink periods. I secretly took a photo of A Girl on the Ball in 2001 – it was a film camera, not digital, printed on Kodak, so it’s great it actually survived to this day.
In March this year I did a small video of the Pushkin Museum in late evening, so you can see a kind of Gothic close-up of an impressive Classicist building erected after the design by R. Klein and V. Shukhov. And bearing in mind that even Google joined the celebrations by adding a special Google Doodle, we wish the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts many happy returns (and maybe another couple of Turners in the collection)!
Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Ambroise Vollard (1910)
The cross-cultural year between Italy and Russia, celebrated in 2011, is quickly picking up the pace with the several exhibitions of outstanding Italian artists visiting Moscow – in exchange to a reciprocal visit of the collections from Russian museums.
In particular, the visitors to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow will see Giotto’s Madonna and the Child (Madonna col Bambino at the Museo diocesano di Santo Stefano al Ponte, also known as Madonna di San Giorgio alla Costa, in Florence), and the famous polyptich from the Museo dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. In exchange, the Florentines will be able to first-hand explore the icons by Andrei Rublev, Dionisius, and the Pskov School.
Meanwhile, the visitors to the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan can see the works of French painters that had been bought by the Russian art collectors and donated to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition includes paintings by Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, and Pablo Picasso. This is the first time these precious specimens of world’s painting are exhibited in Italy. One of the art collectors, Ivan Morozov, went to Paris to personally buy Picasso’s Portrait of Ambroise Vollard. Over 15 years, in which Morozov spent 200-300 thousand francs annualy, he collected over 200 works of European artists.
The exhibition in Milan runs until February 5th, 2012.