The seascapes of Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900) made his name in Russia, his native country where he was a painter of the court of Nicholas I, yet his fame barely extended beyond these borders. Master of the Sublime, he made the ocean the principal subject of his work. Sometimes wild and raging, sometimes calm and peaceful, the life of the ocean is composed of as many allegories as the human condition. Like Turner, whom he knew and whose art he admired, he never painted outside in nature, nor did he make preliminary sketches; his paintings were the fruit of his exceptional memory. With more than 6,000 canvasses, Aivazovsky was one of the most prolific painters of his time.
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) was a Russian painter credited as being among the first to truly venture into abstract art. He persisted in expressing his internal world of abstraction despite negative criticism from his peers. He veered away from painting that could be viewed as representational in order to express his emotions, leading to his unique use of colour and form. Although his works received heavy censure at the time, in later years they would become greatly influential.
Ilya Repin was a leading Russian painter and sculptor who is most famous for his involvement with the Russian Itinerant movement. These avant-garde artists rebelled against the formalism and tradition of the official Academy of Fine Arts and championed the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Repin’s most powerful works expressed great psychological depth and exposed tensions within the social order of his time.
This book invites you to discover the wonderful artworks of this progressive Realist painter, whose work would eventually come to define and influence social artistic movements of the future.
Nicholas Roerich, with his huge and versatile talent, is one of the most interesting creative minds of the early 20th century. He was born in Saint Petersburg in 1874 and died in Kulu Valley (India) in 1947. After studying law and attending the Academy of Art, Nicholas Roerich developed a passionate interest in archaeology, a contribution that was acknowledged when he became a lecturer at the Russian Archaeological Society in 1900. His extensive travels in Europe, Russia, Asia and especially India were a source of inspiration wholly original and unique (for more than 7000 paintings). Roerich was also the author of the Pact which bears his name and which was designed to protect the cultural heritage in time of war. Moreover, he wrote numerous books and collections of poetry.
Les artistes moscovites qui commencèrent à se diriger vers l’Impressionnisme aux environs de 1880 admiraient les œuvres du jeune Serov, ses paysages bucoliques qui révélaient si clairement le lyrisme des événements modestes de la vie quotidienne. Ayant bénéficié de l’instruction de ses professeurs Répine et Tchistiakov, il devint le meilleur portraitiste russe de sa génération. Son talent est évident dans certaines de ses plus belles peintures, comme La Jeune Fille aux pêches ou Ulysse et Nausicaa. L’expérience et le travail créatifs de Serov permirent à la peinture russe de faire partie intégrante de l’art pictural du xxe siècle.
At the beginning of the XXth century, there was an unprecedented explosion of creativity in all artistic fields. Overwhelming both Europe and North America, the Russian Ballet revolutionized theatrical design with their stage sets and their costumes that were ablaze with colour yet refind in effect, bearing much of the mystic of the Orient yet also visually influenced by the work of the Persian miniaturists. Together with Diaghilev, Léon Bakst showed himself to be the most talented of the theatre group designers of his time. The costumes he devised with exclusive art seemed to shimmer with a thousand colours. Dazzled by such powers of imagination, the author, Jean Cocteau, dedicated his book “Bonjour Monsieur Bakst” to him. The great contemporary composers Tchaïkovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Stravinsky, among others, all had occasion to call upon his creative genius. Today, his designs remain very popular and may still be seen on stage scenes all over the world, admired by a public that remains as enthusiastic as ever.
Russian countryside is some of the world’s most lovely, from the celebrated explosions of wildflowers that fill its forests in the spring, to the icy winter tundra that defeated the advances of Napoleon and Hitler and provided the backdrop for the drama of many of Russian literature’s celebrated scenes. No one immortalised it better than Ivan Shishkin (1832-1898), the landscape painter who captured the poetry and majesty of the Russian countryside in a non-replicable way. In this comprehensive work of scholarship, Irina Shuvalova and Victoria Charles make a thorough examination of Shishkin’s work.
The history of mankind has always gone hand in hand with the history of war. War has elevated empires to blinding heights only to bring them crashing down again. It has immortalised brilliant individuals but traumatised entire generations of people. For better or worse, war has helped shape civilisation and society as we know it today.
Only recently, in the last century, has man’s perspective on war changed fundamentally. No longer a glorious undertaking, it has become the impersonation of the worst that humanity has to offer. Nowhere is this drastic change more visible than in war-inspired art. The art of war has come a long way, from the boasting of Ramesses II about his victory at Kadesh in the reliefs of Abu Simbel to Picasso’s famous anti-war painting Guernica.
This book will trace and illustrate this development with fascinating artwork from two millennia of art history along with textual accounts of battle, written by contemporary and early modern scholars, compiled by Victoria Charles. Additionally, the book features excerpts from a well-known treatise written by the greatest military thinker of mankind: Sun Tzu.
Although the techniques of classical ballets were invented by French and Italian masters two hundred years ago, the Russian Ballet refined these techniques, thus enhancing its already superb performances.
For centuries Russia had no great painters to speak of. Artists like Rublov concentrated nearly all their creative talent on the painting of icons. But with the accession to the throne of Peter the Great, the world of the European Enlightenment flooded into this large and reputedly backwards empire.
St. Petersburg emerged from the swamps as if by miracle, thanks to the genius of an Italian architect, and for more than a century it was a cultural epicenter. The all-powerful Tsars that followed, along with Catherine the Great, encouraged exchange between European and Russian artists. And from this exchange Russian painting was born, drawing strong inspiration from Italy and its colours, and combining this with the traditions of Russian art. It was not until the 19th century, however, that a true national style emerged, with the Itinerants and the Blue Rose group. The Revolution followed, and with it, the Russian avant-garde and modernism.
Throughout the book the author investigates Russian culture, which he finds to result from Eastern influences as much as Western. The illustrations reflect his analysis of these influences, and, covering all genres and styles, they add up to a stunning pictorial variety. The works of artists like Borovikovsky, Serov, Vrubel, Briullov, Fedotov, Repin, Shishkin and Levitan, among many others, here showcase the fundamental contributions these painters have made to the history of world art. Writing after the fall of communism, Peter Leek puts into perspective the history and evolution of Russian art.
The Russian Avant-Garde was born at the turn of the twentieth century in pre-revolutionary Russia. The intellectual and cultural turmoil had then reached a peak and provided fertile soil for the formation of the movement. For many artists influenced by European art, the movement represented a way of liberating themselves from the social and aesthetic constraints of the past. It was these Avant-Garde artists who, through their immense creativity, gave birth to abstract art, thereby elevating Russian culture to a modern level.
Such painters as Kandinsky, Malevich, Goncharova, Larionov, and Tatlin, to name but a few, had a definitive impact on twentieth-century art.