The Museum of Russian Impressionism continues to introduce viewers to the bright examples of Russian impressionist painting at the turn of the 20th century. As part of a special project “Brodsky and Kostandi. From the collection of the Research Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts” (PAX) from June 5-September 24, 2019 in the permanent exhibition of the Museum exhibits paintings "Geese,” painted by his disciple Isaac Brodsky in 1906.
In discussions about Impressionism in Russian art it’s not possible to avoid the name Kiriak Kostandi. He was one of the first consistent preachers of the culture of plein air painting. During the many years of teaching of the Odessa Art School, it instilled students the value of color, the ability to see beauty in the simple, in the everyday. Pavel Chistyakov noted, “Kostandi, judging by his students, returned to the Academy, teaches them to speak with nature, open the secrets of her charm, and subtly interpret its essence.”
The canvas “Geese” is an example of a “mood painting,” where the artist poeticizes a simple subject. Most prominently featured are the iridescent colors of the summer twilight. Kostandi was an innate colorist, acutely feeling the nuances of colour tones. Not coincidentally, Ilya Repin called his work “diamonds.”
This painting for many years belonged to the famous Soviet Realist Painter Brodsky. In his life, he assembled an excellent collection of Russian and European art. Education at the Odessa School was a big step towards admission into the Academy of Painters in Saint Petersburg, and he later spoke highly of his teacher Kostadni. Brodsky clearly surpassed in prominence his teacher, becoming one of the most important representatives of Realism in the Soviet period. Brodsky’s painting was different from Kostadni’s restrained, even monochrome, color scheme, where fine drawing and line play a paramount role. Brodsky himself called his style “open” and found his style early, while still in his student years.
Early works of the artist are distinguished by a bright, colorful palette, and a bold, picturesque brushstroke. A fine example is the portrait of the young painter Lyudmila Burliuk. The artist painted it while visiting Kozyrshchina, where his classmate David Burliuk lived with his parents and sister, Lyudmila. They worked a lot en plein air, and Brodsky simply couldn’t help but get carried away with impressionistic techniques, temporarily leaving an “open” style. The portrait was painted in one of the halls of the master’s house in Kozyrshchina, where David Burliuk’s father was manager. The depth of the halls are depicted between the shrouded chairs. A landscape with a view of the manor was created in the Pointillist manner. Probably, this work within the painting was done by Lyudmila, whose landscapes were often compared with the French Impressionist Camille Pissaro. Apparently, Brodsky appreciated this work. The unusual angle of the portrait, the fragmented composition (which shows something happened to the scene while she was painting) are clear evidence that Brodsky was well acquainted with the techniques of Impressionism and successfully used them.
Like the painting “Geese” by Kiriak Kostandi, the work “Portrait of L.D. Burliuk” by Isaac Brodsky is located in the permanent exhibit of the Museum-House of I. Brodsky, a branch of the Research Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg.
The temporary presence of the painting in the Museum of Russian Impressionism is especially valuable. The Research Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts (PAX) is one of the oldest museums in Russia. It was formed during the middle of the 18th century at the same time as the Imperial Academy of Arts, and essentially became the first public art museum in the country. Transitioning from museum methodology to serving a student function, the museum gradually turned into a scientific-research museum. Today the Museum PAX is occupied with a significant part of the central help of the academy, and its collection holds works that give an idea of the whole history of the Russian academic school - from its origin to the modern day.