Friday, November 9, 2007

Mir isskustva(World of Art...RUSSIAN ART)...

We had an exceedingly nice time in Russian History last night reviewing the beginnings of Russian art in the second part of the l9th century. It began with a revolt by some of Moscow's most promising student painters...they were appalled to be assigned "the entrance of Wotan into Valhalla" as their senior assignment, instead of a uniquely Russian theme in accordance with the liberation of the serfs, the discovery of the countryside, Russian language, etc. These students walked out on their scandalized profs and founded their own school of painting, calling themselves the "Wanderers." They did what their name implied: they wandered the countryside, looking for Russian landscape, Russian people, Russian history. You might say they started a movement there...

Anyway, I promised links to the online galleries, and here they are. The first, and probably the biggest, is simply the Russian Art Gallery. I don't know who founded this site, but it is a wonderful sampling of the best painters from about l860, with special sections on photography and icons. This fellow is particularly fond of the work of the great landscape painter, Isaak Levitan.

You can proceed from there to Olga's gallery, an even bigger exhibit space featuring well-known western artists as well as Russians. All the classics are here, but what you really want is her exhibit on Il'ia Repin, probably the best-known of the Wanderers. The Volga barge haulers, Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan, the portrait of Modest Mussorgsky, all the portraits of his beautiful daughters as well as the rich and famous, are there. Afterward, surf on over to the nifty Repin bio page thoughtfully provided by Rollins College. It offers a great summary and yet another look at some of Russia's most famous painting.

Once you finish with Russian art, take a minute to stop by the Tate Modern online. That's Britain's top gallery and it has a superior virtual presence, complete with art history courses you can take online.

Can official culture vulture status be far behind for you?

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