Curator's Blog

Archive for the ‘Curator’s Blog’ Category

Opening August 25: “Discovering 20th Century Russian Master: Nicolai Fechin”



Discovering 20th Century Russian Masters: Nicolai Fechin


MINNEAPOLIS (August 14, 2012) — Beginning August 25, The Museum of Russian Art presents a new exhibition featuring over thirty-five works by Russian-American artist Nicolai Fechin, many on display for the first time in Minnesota.

The fourth in the series Discovering 20th Century Russian Masters, this exhibition illustrates the artist’s impeccable skill as a draftsman, his finely tuned sense of color, and bravura brushwork. A student of the celebrated Ilya Repin at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955) is one of the most prominent 20th century artists in the Russian tradition.

The exhibition includes works generously on loan from American museums, as well as private collectors in the United States and Russia, and is held under the aegis of the U.S.-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission, whose goal is to strengthen the democracy, security and prosperity of the American and Russian peoples. This presentation of Fechin’s work is uniquely suited to promote this goal, as Fechin spent half of his career in Russia and half in the United States. After immigrating to the United States in 1923, his work was not shown in Russia for over thirty years. Initially settling in New York City, health concerns soon forced him to relocate to a more suitable climate in Taos, New Mexico. Fechin’s career flourished during his years living in the American Southwest, where his presence launched a dramatic rebirth of the artists’ colony in New Mexico. Known as the “living old master…an artist’s artist,” he became well known for his refined style, his portraits of prominent Americans and his portrayals of indigenous American culture. Fechin’s work incorporates a broad range of styles that explore the influences of his birthplace and adopted home.

TMORA Director, Chris DiCarlo adds: “Fechin’s portraits will amaze and inspire you—he is a true heavyweight in this discipline. His mastery is easily comparable to more well-known American artists such as John Singer Sargent and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.”

Nicolai Fechin’s dazzling work has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and public interest in recent years, both in the United States and Russia. Referred to as the Michelangelo of our time, Fechin’s work is not to be missed. The exhibition will arrive in Minneapolis from Moscow, where it was on display at the Tretyakov Gallery, the foremost federal repository of Russian art in the Russian Federation.


Discovering 20th Century Masters: Nicolai Fechin is on view through January 20, 2013.

High-resolution images available upon request.

The U.S. tour of the exhibition is organized by the Foundation for International Arts & Education, Bethesda, MD and the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSIZO, Russia in cooperation with The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis, MN.

About The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA)

The Museum of Russian Art, a non-profit, educational institution, is the only museum in North America dedicated exclusively to the preservation and exhibition of all forms of Russian art and artifacts from many eras. TMORA is located in a state-of-the-art, historical building at 5500 Stevens Ave. S. (intersection of I-35W and Diamond Lake Road) in Minneapolis. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday-Friday), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Saturday) and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday). Admission is $7 for adults; voluntary donation for full-time students and on behalf of children 18 and under. To learn more about the Museum’s exhibitions, events, and history, visit or call 612-821-9045.



Read More

Opening August 18: “The Anniversary Celebration: A Decade of Russian Art and Culture



The Anniversary Celebration:

 A Decade of Russian Art and Culture

MINNEAPOLIS  (August 6, 2012)–The Museum of Russian Art celebrates its tenth anniversary with an exhibition featuring treasures of its permanent collection, as well as highlights from past critically acclaimed exhibitions on loan to the Museum.

Bringing together eighteen superb works by prominent Soviet artists from the post-WWII period, The Anniversary Celebration: A Decade of Russian Art and Culture will include technically proficient and stylistically diverse paintings. These post-war paintings are excellent examples of a revival in the unique tradition of Russian Realism, and a move away from the controlled style and content of earlier decades. Artwork from this period touched the hearts and minds of the masses, telling stories and addressing universal themes. Artists from this period created works that were sincere and non-commercial. They found ways of addressing Soviet ideology while striving for personal integrity in a difficult political situation.


The Anniversary Celebration: A Decade of Russian Art and Culture will feature paintings from the Museum’s permanent collection, as well as paintings from past exhibitions, including some of the best examples of Soviet Realism the Museum has ever shown. Works will be featured from, In the Russian Tradition (2005), the first exhibition to be held in the Museum’s current building, Russian Realism: Art of the 20th Century (2006), Colors of Russian Winter (2007), Russian Impressionism: On the Edge of Soviet Art (2008), Russkiy Salon: Select Favorites and Newly Revealed Works (2009), The Road North (2010), and The Art of Vassily Nechitailo (2011). The favorite painting “Milkmaids, Novella,” by Nikolai Baskakov, a key painting in the 2007 exhibition Milkmaids and Friends will also be on display.

Museum Director Chris DiCarlo shared his thoughts saying, “The past decade has been a time of incredible growth and change for The Museum of Russian Art. This exhibition only addresses a fraction of what the Museum has accomplished, but also demonstrates the immense potential we have.”

Founded in 2002 by the prominent collector, Ray Johnson, the Museum of Russian Art moved to its current home in 2005. In 2007, the Museum was registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Museum of Russian Art is the only institution in North America solely dedicated to the presentation and preservation of Russian art in its many forms. A cultural ambassador for Russia and Russian culture, the Museum is governed by a Board of Trustees.  Seeking to advance its educational mission through dynamic exhibitions ranging in content from 19th and 20th century painting, Russian Orthodox icons, photography, printmaking, lacquer art, porcelain, Soviet stamps, textiles, sculpture and other decorative arts, The Museum of Russian Art is a unique and integral part of Minnesota’s rich cultural history.

High-resolution images available upon request.

About The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA)

The Museum of Russian Art is a member-supported, non-profit, educational institution that is governed by a Board of Trustees. It is the only museum in North America dedicated exclusively to the preservation and exhibition of all forms art and artifacts from Russia and its surrounding regions. TMORA is located in a state-of-the-art exhibition facility at 5500 Stevens Ave. S. (intersection of I-35W and Diamond Lake Road) in Minneapolis. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Monday-Friday), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Saturday) and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday). Admission is $7 for adults; voluntary for full-time students and on behalf of children 18 and under. To learn more about the Museum’s exhibitions, events, and history, visit or call 612-821-9045.




Read More

PKP 3790 Griffin-shaped Plaque

The Scyths of Deleuze/Bataille: spendthrift war machine.

Roaming northern Pontic steppes, the nomadic Scythians were known to have sumptuous funeral rites for their chieftains. They controlled the steppes, with everything that moved across them, and apparently served as intermediaries for vibrant grain trade between the settled agrarian groups of the Eurasian steppes and Greeks colonies on the Black Sea (Olbia, Chersonesus, Pantikapaeon etc.). Splendid gold objects  they exchanged for grain  ended up in rich burial mounds thousands of which are found in Ukraine and southern Russia.  Nothing else remains from Scythian culture -except for buried treasures and probably those stone sculptures, kamennye baby, that stood on top of the mounds.  The totally unproductive expenditure of huge amounts of gold was somehow part of the workings of the nomadic war machine.   Thus the happy union of  the ideas of Deleuze and Bataille materialized in one people.

Read More

Leaf 1, The House with the Mezzanine series

The exhibition of Oleg Vassiliev’s works opens in our museum on August 14 (works on paper) and September 17 (oils).  Displayed for the first time in its entirety is an astounding series The House with the Mezzanine, based on Anton Chekhov’s story of the same name. Vassiliev’s visual interpretation of the story is different from conventional literary critical takes on it. The visual sequence takes the story-line beyond Chekhov’s plot into the Soviet period. What seemed as just ‘words,words…’ in the late 19th century, all this talk about making everyone work equally for three hours a day and devote the rest of the time to seeking the meaning of life, turned into a grim reality of MAKING everyone work.

Read More

A wall of money

Art and money (or lack thereof) have had an uneasy relationship for millennia. At Guggenheim, the room is wallpapered with $100 000 in one dollar bills. Is it art or money we are looking at? Looks inviting

"How fast I am going through all this money!"

anyway – fluffy and green.

Read More

Central Asia and American Folk Art in one day

June 24, at the NEH Institute, the discussion focused on Central Asia. The chief presenter was the Director of the Program on Central Asia Caucasus from Harvard John Schoeberlein. Having shown many fascinating maps, the presenter  outlined the history of both the area and the discipline in his two-hour talk. So what’s with Central Asia? There seems to be an explosion of Central Asian studies on American campuses. Muslim countries are  on everyone’s minds and the interest in and concern with this part of the world are at their historical high. Pr. Schoeberlein showed one photo of a heavily veiled and clothed woman that we displayed in our “Lost Empire” exhibition of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs, saying that such heavy veiling could be in fact a sign of status. Most women did not wear a ‘parandzha’, because no one cared if they were seen or not. So, heavy mesh over one’s face was probably an object of envy.

Sart Woman. Samarkand


After the session, I went to MOMA and the American Folk Art Museums, opened until 8 today (Target sponsored museum day). Here some of my favorites works.

Read More

Alma Mater  - on Columbia campus, Morningside Heights

The Future of Area Studies – Summer Institute at Columbia

This post is about Eurasia. Europe and Asia combined, Eurasia, however, is a geopolitical term often referring to post-Soviet countries only. Which makes it our museum’s object of study and display. Tiny bits and pieces of Eurasian art and history have found their way into our galleries ne way or another.  I am at Columbia University now attending the NEH Summer Institute “America Engages Eurasia.”  Notable professors, public administrators and officials have come to speak to us. They all touched upon the topic of the decline of interest in and funding of the study of Russia and neighboring countries (with the exception of, probably, Central Asia) post Soviet collapse.  The need now is to re-think and re-organize the scholarly enterprise known as area studies that has traditionally focused on one area of the world. But apart from marketing, what is it that would re-invigorate the study of other countries? Well, people, aren’t you all doctors of philosophy ? I think we have forgotten about the ‘philosophy’ part of it. Philosophy frees from the particulars of an individual discipline  and they shold never cut the umbilical cord that connects to the progress of philosophy. Philsophy of culture now is far ahead of regional studies. Time to catch up!


Read More

Welcome to my new blog!

Greetings, guests! This a curator’s blog that will explore and share professional insights of a curator busy with putting together a museum show. I will try to reply to question and comments related to topics of Russian art and current exhibitions here, at the Museum of Russian Art. I will be writing about various exhibition-related subjects, including research findings and my curatorial experience dealing with curating an exhibition on a day to day basis. As I research and structure the material for a new show I come across many fascinating facts, ideas and even little discoveries that never make it into the physical space of an exhibition. I will be posting them, a discovery a day!

See you soon in this little Cartesian gallery of curatorial insights!

To introduce myself, here is the photo.


Read More