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SANTIAGO CALATRAVA: THE QUEST FOR MOVEMENT
THE STATE HERMITAGE MUSEUM ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

Exhibition dates: 27th June - 30th September, 2012
Exhibition location: Nikolaevsky Hall, the Winter Palace
Press Preview: 27th June, 2012, at 12.00, the Hermitage Theatre

Santiago Calatrava: The Quest for Movement, will be the first retrospective exhibition dedicated to a contemporary architect at the world-renowned The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Opening 27th June 2012, the show will provide unprecedented insight into the work of the acclaimed Spanish architect, engineer and sculptor.

A leading figure in contemporary architecture, Calatrava's work frequently transverses the boundaries between art and architecture. This exhibition will celebrate him not only as an architect but also as a sculptor and painter in his own right, exploring all facets of his creative production. Large format paintings and sculptures specially created for the show will be exhibited alongside spectacular architectural models for some of his most celebrated designs, including his latest project for the Belgian city of Mons, European Capital of Culture in 2015.

Co-curated by Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz, Guest-curator, and Ksenia Malich, Curator of Contemporary Art, The State Hermitage Museum, the exhibition launches the State Hermitage's architectural cycle Hermitage 20/21 project and will occupy the magnificent Nikolaevsky Hall, located in the heart of the Winter Palace. The State Hermitage Museum holds one of the largest collections of architectural graphics from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Speaking about the exhibition, the Director Mikhail Piotrovsky said: "In St Petersburg - the city of the bridges - we cannot imagine a finer start of the architectural exhibitions cycle "Hermitage 20/21". I would like to see Santiago Calatrava and this momentous exhibition at The State Hermitage Museum as a pure bridge between St Petersburg's 19th century architecture and the present 21st century".

In the words of the curator, Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz: "This exhibition provides an exceptional glimpse of Calatrava's constant search for an individual path and how he has established his own architectural vocabulary, far from all the conventions of his time, distant from common sense, and in a way, through sculpture".

Calatrava's inimitable style is characterised by a sense of movement which takes its inspiration from the forms and shapes of the natural world. In a recent interview with Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz, Calatrava explains: "Movement gives an added dimension to form. It makes form a living thing. Instead of thinking of a building as something mineral, like a rock, we can start to compare a building to the sea, which has waves that move, or to a flower whose petals open in the morning".

The importance of movement in Calatrava's work will be evident not only in the range of works on display - kinetic sculptures, mobile architectural models, suspended structures - but also in the design of the exhibition itself.

Calatrava's connection with Russia dates back to his formative years, when he was deeply impressed by his early readings of Turgenev, Chekhov and Tolstoy. Later in life he was inspired by its formidable landscape, the territorial expanses of the taiga and tundra, and in particular St Petersburg itself, a city he became intimately acquainted with through his friendship with Valery Gergiev.

The exhibition is organized in partnership with The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, The Embassy of Spain in Moscow, and generously supported by JT International and BP.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Santiago Calatrava:

Santiago Calatrava's name has been most closely associated with his celebrated designs of bridges and transportation centers built throughout the world. Highlights of his work include designs for: The Milwaukee Art Museum in Wisconsin (2001), the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (2004), the Light Rail Train Bridge in Jerusalem (2007) the Quarto Ponte sul Canal Grande in Venice (2008) and the Liege-Guillemins TGV Railway Station in Belgium (2009). He is currently working on a variety of design and construction projects throughout the world including: The World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York; the Margaret McDermott Bridge in Dallas; Citta dello Sport, Rectorate and Campus Master Plan for Roma II University in Tor Vergata, Italy and Yuan Ze University in Taiwan.

About the State Hermitage Museum St Petersburg:

The State Hermitage Museum is one of the greatest art museums in the world. Its collections numbering more than 3 000 000 items feature the art and culture of Antiquity, Western Europe, Oriental countries and Russia. The museum was founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great purchased a collection of Flemish and Dutch paintings (225) from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernest Gotzkowski. For more than two centuries the collection kept growing. Today the Hermitage is a home to 16 000 paintings and 600 000 drawings and prints, 12 000 sculptures and 250 000 works of applied art, 700 000 archaeological exhibits and 1 000 000 coins and medals. Highlights of the museum are works by most famous European old masters - Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt and Rubens. It boasts a superb, one of the best in the world, collections of Dutch painting and a fine stock of French paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. Its collections of drawings and prints and of applied art are among the richest in the world. The museum has exquisite Scythian gold objects and ancient Greek jewellery.

The permanent museum display occupies five buildings which form a brilliant architectural ensemble in the centre of St Petersburg. The most famous of them is the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors, designed by Bartolommeo Rastrelli and built between 1754 and 1762. It was Catherine II's idea to construct the Small Hermitage, the Big or Old Hermitage and the Hermitage Theatre alongside the official residence. The New Hermitage designed for the "Imperial Museum" by Leo von Klenze and built in 1842-51 was the last element added to the architectural complex which is now one of the best sights in St Petersburg's historical centre. The museum complex also includes the Menshikov Palace and the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building, the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre and the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.

Hermitage 20/21 project

A determined campaign to bring contemporary art and its admirers into the Hermitage Museum is spearheaded by the new 'Hermitage 20/21' project. Galleries of modern and contemporary art will be a feature of the new museum wing in the magnificent General Staff Building, which faces the Winter Palace across Palace Square. The project is scheduled for completion in 2014 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the museum's foundation.

The contemporary section of the new museum has already come to life with newly refurbished galleries and a series of challenging exhibitions. This is not just a matter of new displays, but the opening of a new page in the history of the museum and the city of St Petersburg. The aim is to make art accessible to all, closer to ordinary people, not boring and a pleasurable experience - in other words to attract a new generation of St Petersburgers into the museum. The exhibitions will include contemporary paintings, sculpture and graphic art, video and other new media. It is also intended that the new space be used to promote contemporary music and cutting edge films.
Contemporary art, the history of which is being created today, will be studied in terms of philosophy. Within the 'Hermitage 20/21' project we hope to develop a new philosophical approach to understanding art. The new philosophical approach builds on the Hermitage's important decision that it will attempt to form a collection of 20th and 21st century art. The museum already owns some of the great icons of the 20th century - Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, Malevich - but it does not have a representative collection. The museum expects to rely very heavily on loans since great works rarely come on the market and are hotly competed for when they do. The Head of Contemporary Art Department is Dr. Dimitri Ozerkov.

Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz:

Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz Fisac is an independent art curator and art critic and works with major museums around the world. Born in Spain, Cristina was formerly a diplomat at the United Nations (UNESCO AND UNDP) in Switzerland and France. Since 1994 she has curated a number of shows and written various books on Balthus, Botero and Satyajit Ray. Cristina is a regular contributor to numerous magazines and publications, including the Spanish, Italian, German and Mexican editions of Vogue, The Art Newspaper (English edition), the Observer, Beaux Arts and L'oeil, El Pais, Abc, XL SEMANAL and AD Spain and Germany as well as La Repubblica.

 

 

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