Published: August 1, 2012 (Issue # 1720)
The ‘Stars of the School of Paris’ exhibit showcases 24 works by Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and Joan Miro.
Work by Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and Joan Miro went on display in the city last Friday — at a photo gallery. Yet none of the artists were photographers. What, then, connects the artists and why is their work on show at the Rachmaninov Garden photo gallery?
There are some who deny that photography is a true art, while others consider graphics to be the predecessor of monochrome photography. The “Stars of the School of Paris” exhibit hopes to give visitors a chance to make a connection between the two branches of art.
“We wanted our visitors to draw a parallel between [graphics and photography], in order to exert an aesthetic and artistic influence on viewers,” said Yury Gurchenkov, director of the Rachmaninov Garden gallery. The graphic works we see here are no doubt art, but can monochrome photography also be considered a piece of art?”
The period known as the School of Paris was the time during the first half of the 20th century when Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism were born. It was then that artists from all over the world moved to Paris, the center of artistic life at the time. Frenchmen, Spaniards and Russian immigrants arguably made the most significant contribution to the development of the School of Paris. Following this thought, the exhibit comprises pieces by France’s Matisse, Spain’s Miro and the Russian Empire’s Chagall.
Matisse was the leader of the Fauvists. The aggressive freedom of color in his paintings illustrates the desire for self-expression on the one hand and an attempt to escape from the reality of revolution and war on the other. Much of his art has no comprehensible subject; the subjects are lines or spots or colors. At the Rachmaninov Garden gallery, visitors can see some of Matisse’s nudes, including the “Blue Nudes” series made using the decoupage technique.
Joan Miro’s ‘Night’ is on show.
The Russian-Jewish artist Chagall, who found his second homeland in Paris, is represented at the exhibit by his illustrations for Nikolai Gogol’s novel “Dead Souls.” In the etchings made for the French art dealer Ambroise Vollard, characters such as Sobakevich, Korobochka and Chichikov — well-known to all Russian schoolchildren — can be recognized. The etchings on display at the exhibit were printed on Japanese paper and were the first of 418 done by Chagall. His works seem pure and childish, and have the same fairytale quality to them as many of his iconic paintings.
In this respect, Chagall anticipated Surrealism, which is also represented at the exhibit in the colorful lithographs by Miro, whose influence from Paul Klee and Vasily Kandinsky is clear. Miro’s works are testament to his skills not only as an artist, but also as a decorator.
The idea for the photo gallery’s latest exhibition was proposed by art historian Vladimir Nazansky. The modest exhibition consists of 24 works.
“The presence of such leading names in our gallery is really a great event,” said Gurchenkov.
The “Stars of the School of Paris” exhibition runs through Sept. 30 at the Rachmaninov Garden photo gallery, 5 Kazanskaya Ulitsa. M. Nevsky Prospekt / Gostiny Dvor. Tel. 312 9558.