17 Apr 2015 - 11 Oct 2015

Art in Evacuation

The Institute of Russian Realist Art (IRRA)

Dedicated to the the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory Day

Art in Evacuation
“Art in Evacuation” demonstrates how, in an incredible way, Russia’s cultural heritage was preserved to the extent that wartime even enabled artistic life to flourish. Thousands of kilometers away from Moscow and the frontline great music was written, famous productions were staged, spectacular films were created and exhibitions of outstanding artists were organized. For many cultural figures, the war years were the time when they established their place in the artistic firmament. Any attempt to collect and display records and artefacts from this era of the country’s artistic life is a precious undertaking. It is important to remember that today, 70 years after the end of the war, the voice of that time sounds very different to us. Many things that were taken for granted then seem astonishing to us in their courage and apparent recklessness; other everyday circumstances provoke a certain scepticism today. Sometimes the voices of the individuals who were caught up in these events start to be filtered through a layer of cultural ideology while our contemporary ‘ear’ is also very different from the ear of society in past decades. Perm, Novosibirsk, Nalchik, Tbilisi, Tashkent, Alma-Ata… Neither this description, nor any space for an exhibition dedicated to the art that survived though the evacuation, could be big enough to recollect and reconsider these strange, frightening, yet still beautiful years. We can only hope that visitors who see this unique exhibits and records from that time will recognize them as more than silent objects from the past. They are gateways to cities whose names are no longer on the maps, or that are no longer part of this country, but where the traces of the artistic community during the wartime evacuation are still visible.

On 22 June 1941 the inhabitants of Moscow were shocked by the announcement that the German Army had invaded the USSR. Thousands of people heard foreign minister Molotov’s address on the radio, or over loudspeakers in the streets, and were unable to believe that the country had been plunged into war.

The grand yet frightening panorama of wartime Moscow became the inspiration for many war-related series by different artists in those years.

At night the city was hit by air raids. Women and children hid in shelters below the ground while their husbands and fathers kept guard on the rooftops and dealt with incendiary bombs, protecting Moscow from fire. Artists Alexander Labas was among those who helped resist the devastating assaults of the Luftwaffe.

Vasily Kirikov was a famous restorer and a well-known researcher of ancient Russian painting who worked at the State Tretyakov Gallery and the Center named after I. Grabar. He also experienced the hardships of war at first hand.

Yuri Pimenov, one of the leading painters of that time, was among those who chose to stay in Moscow. He combined his work on stage sets for the Lenkom and Maly theatre companies with a series of paintings on military themes.

After the German invasion in 1941 there were regular exhibitions of art exploring military and patriotic themes. The participants included Reshetnikov, Nissky, Soyfertis, Boim, Savitsky, Sokolov-Scalya, Moor, the Kukryniksy and Vyalov.

Hastily, Moscow began to make preparations for evacuation. Several trains were allocated to take the staff and property of the capitals museums, theaters, film studios and art institutes to the safety of the Urals and Central Asia.

The first trains of students, professors and their families began to arrive in October 1941. One of the first to arrive was the group from the Moscow Art Institute. It took them an entire month to reach Samarkand due to frequent stops to let military trains pass and to wait out air raids.

Vladimir Favorsky first personal exhibition was held in Samarkand. The artist mainly showed works from the evacuation years: genre interiors, portraits of Russian military leaders, still lifes and a cycle of Central Asian lino-prints.

During the evacuation, Robert Falk taught at the Uzbek Art College and the Moscow Art and Technical College. Falk continued to paint. In Samarkand, he created a number of amazing landscapes and portraits.

The students would decorate tea rooms and paint portraits of the locals. The key request from the clients was for the portraits to be en face and with all the minute details of the costumes, in line with Eastern miniature traditions.

But it was perhaps Sergey Gerasimov who contributed the most to creating a scientific and creative atmosphere in Samarkand. As well as teaching, he had to take care of administrative matters, while continuing to paint himself.

Sergey Vasilevich Gerasimov painted perfect Asian urban landscape pictures with a bright oriental crowd, lit up by the sun. And right there on the train from Moscow to Samarkand and back he created an amazing graphic series of drawings straight out of the window – a tragic chronicle of those days.

In 1943 there was an important exhibition of works by Igor Grabar and Sergey Gerasimov, while the Pushkin Museum displayed 50 graduation works from students at the departments of painting, graphic art, sculpture and architect at the Moscow Art Institute, all of them produced in evacuation in Samarkand.

Igor Grabar despite the huge amount of administrative work, continued to write. Portraits of his "Tbilisi period" are among the best.

In 1941 in Tbilisi Igor Grabar’s created a portrait of Sergei Prokofiev, who was composing his “War and Peace”

The Moscow Secondary Art School for Gifted Children was evacuated ti Bashkiria. It had the support of outstanding cultural figures such as Igor Grabar, Sergey Gerasimov, Ivan Moskvin, and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko.

Voskresenskoye, or Voskresensk as it was formerly known, is an old Russian mining and metallurgical village. By the time the war came to Russia very little had changed in Voskresenskoye.

Later many of young artists, such as Gely Korzhev, Viktor Ivanov, Pyotr Ossovsky, Pavel Nikonov, Igor Popov, Ivan Sorokin and Vladimir Stozharov, went on to become great Russian painters

“When you get to the point when black paint turns blue, and sienna into cadmium, when one paint takes on a different shade next to another, that’s when you will understand what it is all about, what it is like to create complicated colour combinations on a canvas". Vasily Pochitalov.

One of the most talented students was Viktor Ivanov.

A month after getting back to Moscow, Igor Grabar organized an exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery called “Two Years in Bashkiria”.

The artists’ works are not linked by a solemn heroic-patriotic theme alone. They are all attuned to universal human values, inextricably connected with personal life and spiritual experience.

This exceptional moment in our country’s destiny brought us closer to the fate of our native land. That attention and love of the real world began to infiltrate our works, to determine the subject of our art forever. Gely Korzhev

The art of wartime enriched Russian art. Artistic expression matured, and the power of the figurative and symbolic message is testimony to the deep emotions, true power and sincere feelings of masters who overcame severe trials and, together with their country, conquered them.

The centre of the Soviet filmmaking was established in the “Asian Hollywood”, the Central United Film Studio in Alma-Ata.

The biggest hall of the Central United Film Studio was where Ivan the Terrible was shot. Eisenstein’s film was the most important project of the war years.

. 'Ivan the Terrible will be filmed… Comrade Composer is granted all the freedom for his creativity'. ‘I am now finishing the last bars of the War and Peace, and I am therefore most likely to get on to your work as soon as possible’ - Prokofiev replied.

The first part of Ivan the Terrible was completed in 1944 and released in January 1945. In 1946 Eisenstein and part of the crew were awarded the Stalin Prize.

During the Great Patriotic War, he spent the first few months in the besieged Leningrad where he continued to work on the famous "Seventh Symphony" ("The Leningrad Simpony"), which he started to write a year earlier. In October 1941, he was evacuated to Kuibyshev, where in late December completed symphony.

The premiere took place on March 5, 1942 in the Kuibyshev Opera and Ballet Orchestra performed the State Academic Bolshoi Theater under the direction of conductor Samuel Samosud.

The Seventh Symphony is dedicated to celebrating the humanity of people'. Alexsey Tolstoy

During the evacuation Bolshoi staged nine operas (six of them premieres) and five ballets (three premieres) at the theatre in Kuibyshev.

A production of Tchaikovsky’s Cherevichki was staged before the war and awarded the Stalin’s prize during the evacuation.

The Bolshoi went back to its regular stage in July 1943 but the first true premiere in Moscow had to wait until November 21, 1945. It was a production of Prokofiev’s Cinderella, choreographed by Rostislav Zakharov.

The sets were by Petr Williams and Olga Lepeshinskaya the title role. Later Galina Ulanova competed with her in this part.

By 1944 work was already underway on restoring the capital’s museums, theatres and concert hall and by the time the victory was complete in 1945 the main cultural venues of Moscow were already welcoming visitors once again and reacquainting them with the masterpieces that had been saved from the clamour of war.

The Institute of Russian Realist Art
Credits: Story

The Institute of Russian Realist Art
The Open Art Festival “Chereshnevy Les”

Сoncept: Alexey Ananiev, Edit Kusnirovich
Сurators: Ksenia Karpova, Anastasia Sirenko, Nadezhda Stepanova, Elena Solovyeva

Anastasia Sirenko, Nadezhda Stepanova, Ksenia Karpova, Ilya Kukharenko, Tatyana Malova, Valeria Gorlova, Ekaterina Akimova

Exhibition design: Andrey Shelyutto, Anton Fedorov, Andrey Vasiliev

The exhibition is organized with the participation of: The State Tretyakov Gallery, The State Russian Museum, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, The State Academic Bolshoi Theater Museum, The Museum of Cinema, The Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War, The State Museum of Oriental Art, The V.I. Surikov Moscow State Academic Art Institute, The Moscow Academic Art Lyceum of the Russian Academy of Arts and private collections.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions (listed below) who have supplied the content.
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