View from the Hermitage. We Give the Artist the Ticket to the Eternity
When museums and galleries present modern art the process of its assimilation
by the public takes place. Russia is the motherland of the
One of the objectives of the museum is to show that there is no difference
in principle between modern and classic art. Not everyone might agree
with me. The artists like to consider themselves revolutionaries but this
is not so. Conventionally, the realism of the Renaissance and canonical
I repeatedly said that modern art is full of charlatans. It is not so easy
to sort it out. The auction prices do not determine the truth. The dealers
know how to "light" and sell at the high price and not just the popstars.
But they are unable to make it happen that
Just now the exhibitions of Ilya Kabakov were opened at three different locations in Moscow: the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, the Garage Gallery and the gallery at the wine factory. These exhibitions are grand with Moscow style and level. Kabakov is very famous; he is the only modern Russian artist who is recognized in the world. It is a rare case when the prices for works and recognition coincide.
I will remind you that the exhibition of Kabakov took place at the General
Staff Building 4 years ago. It was the first time when Kabakov came to Russia
together with his wife and
Kabakov is an artist who formed during the Soviet times. He is a conceptualist that is why the idea prevails in everything he does. His works are mostly about the Soviet life, the communal apartment. He proceeds from that. The feeling of the spiritual problems begotten by the collectivist way of life continues to exist. The communal apartment is the symbol of the collectivist way of life; it has both bad and good. Playing with the routine in art is common in the West irrelatively to our country. It is the aesthetics of a man who reflects upon the world from his shell.
In size the exhibition from four years back is not comparable with all
that is presented in Moscow now, but it was in style of the Hermitage.
The Winter Palace in comparison with other palaces of the world is rather
small but from the inside it looks more monumental than the most. The exhibition
at the General Staff Building was modest as Kabakov
The second important event was the exhibition of Timur Novikov. It is a significant romantic figure for Petersburg and Russian culture. During his life time Timur had a lot of exhibitions but the one that has opened now in the Hermitage will start the new comeback of the artist who died blind. Thežmuseum demonstration is a new way of assimilating the public with his creative work. The exhibition is not retrospection although it is dedicated to the 50th anniversary of his birth. For this exhibition we chose the works that in our opinion conform to the Hermitage. When walking along the halls one can see that there are many images of the Winter Palace, various 'Hermitage' topics, Canova and so much moreÖ
The 'rags' of Timur Novikov have something in common with our trellises.
The exhibition at the museum turned out to bevmonumental but at the same time it limits the modern artist to a certain extent. It is impossible to forget that there is something more significant next to his works Ė Rubens, Rembrandt, Leonardo. Three or four halls in the Hermitage for the artist are too much. Just one hall is dedicated to Rubens; one hall only is for Leonardo. Such games are interesting because on the one hand they allow paying the tribute to the artists but on the other hand they give the example of how to present modern art.
The exhibition of the new art should send us back to what already exists at the museum. The similarities exist, sometimes we impose them and sometimes we do not. We would like a person to walk around the museum and to see how it all correlates. At the same time there is a context of the new art that has been presented by the Hermitage already. These are the highest examples. Novikov ranks with Kabakov, Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois...
The modern Russian artists are rarely presented at the Hermitage. This is the mission of the State Russian Museum. However, when the artists are somehow connected with the themes and context of the Hermitage they also find a place here. For example, Vadim Voinov, whose topic was the ruins, organized his exhibition in the attic of the General Staff Building. Anatoly Belkin organized the exhibition together with our archaeologists. It appeared to be a romantic story. In the series They Worked in the Hermitage the works of Shemyakin and Ovchinnikov were presented. The Hermitage has to look for its own language of showing the modern art. Only the galleries or private museums can have their own language.
The Louvre collected the experience of implementing modern art in the museum space. Not long ago we discussed this with the director of the Louvre. In one of the halls there is a plafond that was painted by George Braque. Recently the museum asked a brutal German artist Anselm Kiefer who makes large things from lead to decorate one of the entrances to the Louvre. It looks very nice, interesting and modern. Such books from lead could look very interesting next to the paintings in our museum.
At the same time the exhibition in the Louvre dedicated to the Belgian artist Jan Fabre who is famous for his installations from insects did not avoid the scandal. The works of Fabre were located inside the gallery of the Flemish and Dutch art. The idea to combine old classic art with the new art is correct. Fabre has wonderful works: glass birds, butterflies, bugs... There is a lot of symbolism that is characteristic for the Dutch and some of them are similar to the Dutch still life.
From the works of the Belgian artists the Louvre chose some that might look good next tovRembrandt and Rubens. In my opinion this is not right. During his lifetime the artist can not be elevated like that, he should be limited even though this is not humanely. In addition to all there appeared too many works by Fabre in the halls including provocative ones. That irritated people. Sense of harmony should be present in everything.
The exhibition dedicated to water in the State Russian Museum was surrounded
by numerous disputes and talks. There, from my point of view, was a good
combination of classic and modern art. Some might see the succession between
them, others might not notice. There are things of different levels in the classic
department; a lot of them were taken from the storerooms of the museum.
The modern department presents good things and
The goal of the museum is to give people the opportunity to watch, think and dispute. There is a wide range for choice. Sometimes the scandal makes us think too. The scandal is a marketing method, some sort of provocation. Classic exhibitions can also provoke the visitors. Some time ago we took Nicholas and Alexandra exhibition to other countries including Great Britain that in due time did not want to host the royal family. In a way it was a provoking moment but also an additional motivation for the visitors to think about what the museum presents.
There are no recipes for presenting modern art. In our Hermitage
We are trying to organize more
Today most people are used to believe that the truth can be found only at the court. The situation is different in the museum. The universal museum presents art of different peoples and different ideologies. Next to the Byzantine icons there are Buddhist icons and atheist paintings. Nobody is indignant at that.
The experiments are allowed in the museum, there even things that canít be done in the church or in the street are possible. That is why there should not be in hurry when expressing oneís feelings about things presented in the museums or stating complaints. A civilized discussion is needed.