Other Shores. Russian Art in New York. 1924
16 September - 16 January
In September the Museum of Russian Impressionism will present ‘Other Shores. Russian Art in New York. 1924’, a research exhibition about the largest US show of Russian paintings, sculptures and graphics by a hundred prominent artists. Almost one hundred years later, visitors will have the opportunity to view more than 70 signature works from museum and private collections in Russia and abroad, including the Albertina Gallery Vienna.
In 1924 more than 1000 items were displayed at the Russian Art Exhibition in New York. This was a unique cross-section of Russian art from the first two decades of the 20th century, and since the works were offered for sale, the artists selected their best pictures to send overseas.
After the exhibition the paintings were scattered all over the world. The Museum found many of them in collections in the USA, Canada, the UK, Switzerland, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Armenia, Tajikistan and other countries. In particular, some paintings appeared at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Ontario Art Gallery, Birmingham Public Library and even the Museum of the Imperial Collections Sannomaru-Shōzōkan in Tokyo. The paintings were also dispersed across Russia, from Khabarovsk to Rostov-on-Don.
This wide-ranging detective work resulted in one of the most ambitious Museum projects. It took the curators more than a year to find these works. Art historians have managed to establish the fate of several hundred pieces, and some have been rediscovered for the viewing public. The exhibition will include paintings by Leon Bakst, Igor Grabar, Boris Grigoriev, Mikhail Larionov, Ilya Mashkov, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Boris Kustodiev, Zinaida Serebryakova and other artists from the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum and the State Hermitage Museum, as well as from the collections of Viktor Shkulyov, Anatoly and Maya Beckerman, Roman Babichev and others.
The Russian Art Exhibition was held in 1924 at the Grand Central Palace in the center of Manhattan. Thereafter the Exhibition was displayed in twenty cities in the United States and Canada. Many eminent American figures and business representatives assisted in its organization. The board of trustees included the publisher William Hearst. During the exhibition in New York, more than 90 works worth more than $ 50,000 were sold. Among the buyers were the designer Louis Comfort Tiffany, businessman and politician Charles Crane, Fyodor Chaliapin and Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The participation of these paintings was confirmed by hundreds of archive documents, auction catalogues and other records, but the most important and most valuable factor was the support from colleagues worldwide: museum specialists, staff members of auction houses, archives, libraries, collectors, art dealers and art historians, and we are extremely grateful to them all. ‘Old Ballet’ by Konstantin Somov from a private collection was discovered at an American auction. The study of labels on the backs of paintings and catalogue numbers allowed us to confirm that ‘August Evening’ by Konstantin Yuon, ‘The Seagull’ by Arkady Rylov, ‘After the Battle of Kulikovo’ by Valentin Serov and a number of other works participated in the exhibition.
Newspapers and magazines contemporary to the Exhibition also played a significant role in preparation of the project. Sometimes articles from the press helped the specialists to distinguish a painting: for example, ‘Yellow Face’ by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin and ‘Evening on the Black Sea’ by Grigory Bobrovsky were attributed in this way.
Two masterpieces from the collection of the Albertina Gallery, ‘Officer’s Barber’ by Mikhail Larionov and ‘The Cello’ by Vasily Shukhaev, will be presented at the Museum of Russian Impressionism. Their arrival in Russia was made possible thanks to a special partner of the exhibition — the pharmaceutical company GEROPHARM, which supports a series of events to increase the accessibility of art in the year of its twentieth anniversary.
A large-scale publication is being prepared for the exhibition. This includes information about more than 200 works from the Russian Art Exhibition, many of which cannot be delivered to Russia. The published results of research conducted by the Museum will be complemented by archival photographs and analytical materials. One article has been written by art historian and professor at the University of Southern California, John E. Bowlt. Another article was authored by Edward Kasinec, Slavist and Research Associate at the Harriman Institute of Columbia University. The funding of the catalogue was provided by Alexey and Ekaterina Tolokonnikov.
The exhibition project ‘Hypotheses’ will continue the research topic. The third floor of the museum will house works by Viktor and Apollinary Vasnetsov, Stanislav Zhukovsky, Boris Kustodiev and other artists whose participation in the Russian Art Exhibition still remains in question. Visitors will be able to learn about the fate of the paintings and examine the pros and cons of showing them at the exhibition in the United States.
Both displays will allow visitors to visually reimagine the 1924 exhibition in New York. In addition to paintings, guests of the museum will see graphic works, objects of decorative and applied art, book illustrations and archive photographs. The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive educational program for children and adults, as well as inclusive events.
The curator of the exhibition is Olga Yurkina, specialist in the exhibition department of the Museum of Russian Impressionism. The working group also included the museum director Yulia Petrova, chief conservator Natalia Sviridova and exhibition department staff members Daria Uryadova, Elena Akhmerova and Anna Sklyarevskaya.