The exhibition features paintings representing the “Village Movement” in post-war Soviet art and includes works never displayed in the United States.
MINNEAPOLIS (January 20) – On Saturday, February 20, 2010, The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) will open “The Road North,” an exhibition that brings together over sixty works by prominent Soviet painters whose portrayal of traditional life in the small villages and ancient towns of the Russian North stood in stark contrast to the focus on industrialization characteristic of socialist realism—the official art style promoted by the Soviet government.
This thematically consistent sample of post-Stalinist art demonstrates Soviet painters’ openness to exploring broader artistic perspectives in the decades following the dictator’s death in 1953. Artists such as Vassily Stozharov, Igor Popov, Ivan Sorokin, and Viktor Popkov traveled to remote northern settlements to capture the spirit of age-old communities condemned to near extinction through the Soviet government’s harsh drive toward modernization. Weary of the pervasive optimism of Stalinist art, these artists were fascinated with the mournful beauty of northern landscapes. Their reverent eye for the rough textures of large northern log-houses, the grayness of short autumn days, and the weather-beaten faces of stern northern peasants and fishermen informed the works on display in “The Road North.”
Careful not to venture too far outside officially sanctioned styles and techniques, these ‘village’ artists still managed to criticize the Soviet system’s moral bankruptcy. For them the Russian North was the last spiritual stronghold in the country devastated by communism and war. Rather than nostalgia for a Russia fast disappearing, their work expressed gratitude to the common Russian people who bore the tremendous weight of the war effort and post-war reconstruction. “The Road North” identifies, for the first time, a coherent ‘northern’ movement that played a key role in invigorating Soviet art of the post-war period.
Long Lead Media Alert: TMORA’s 2010 Exhibitions ~
Opening March 15, 2010: “A Homespun Life: Textiles of Old Russia”
Traditional Russian textiles including clothing, linens, and embroidered towels as well as pryalki—decorated wooden spinning tools—from the homes of Russian peasants from the late 19th and early 20th century will be on display.
Opening April 5, 2010: “The Enchantment of Russian Lacquer Art”
The exhibition will feature over 100 works of lacquer art from TMORA’s permanent collection, supplemented with works from private collectors in the United States. TMORA’s Lacquer Box collection features exquisite lacquer art from the Russian villages of Fedoskino, Palekh, Kholui and Mstera.
Opening 2011: “Antiquities from Ukraine: Golden Treasures of Lost Civilizations”
TMORA is the first U.S. museum featuring relics dating from the Neolithic age to the Byzantine era, unearthed in present-day Ukraine. The exhibition, presented in conjunction with the Government of Ukraine and The Museum of National Cultural Heritage PLATAR, will include unique clay objects from one of the most ancient civilizations of the world – the Trypillian Culture, which flourished approximately 7000 years ago before it inexplicably disappeared in the 3rd millennium BC. The lost world of this sophisticated matriarchal society, known for creating large agricultural settlements, comes to life in the fascinating figurines of the Great Goddess and in the highly stylized patterns decorating Trypillian earthenware on display at TMORA.
Gradually displacing the agricultural Trypillians, the nomads of the Ukrainian steppes produced magnificent artwork, also featured in the exhibition. Of particular interest is the rare Scythian gold dating to the period between the 7th and the 3rd centuries BC. Golden decorative objects bear the influence of Greek art that was cultivated in numerous Greek colonies along the Black Sea coast. The later cultures of Ancient Rome and Byzantium contributed to the wealth of archeological material still buried in the ancient land of present-day Ukraine. Unique samples of Roman and Byzantine decorative art, jewelry and everyday objects are also included into the display.