Russian Impressionist Museum Opens In Moscow
A new building in Moscow aims to celebrate the lesser known legacy of Russian Impressionism.
While the works of the French Impressionists such as Monet, Degas, and Renoir are well known, a similar strain of largely forgotten art emerged in Russia around the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Now, a new museum has opened in Moscow celebrating the Russian strain of Impressionist art – aiming to let visitors in on this lesser known movement. It comes from the personal collection of entrepreneur and philanthropist Boris Mints, who invested some $20 million into a project seeking to illuminate Russia’s contributions to the arts.
“Up until now, only the icons of Andrei Rublev and the works of avant-garde artists (Kazimir) Malevich or (Wassily) Kandinsky were known all over the world,” said museum director Yulia Petrova. Now she plans to add a host of other names to that list, including painters like Konstantin Korovin, Valentin Serov and Pyotr Konchalovsky. Some of their works, such as Serov’s The Girl With Peaches, are now experiencing a popular revival – as an exhibit of his paintings broke attendance records at Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery, with visitors queuing for hours in the snow and even breaking a door.
The whole museum was designed by British architects and is housed in a new circular building with an ultra-modern style, built on the site of an old sugar silo of a famous Soviet-era Bolshevik confectionery factory. This could be viewed as a massive ironic attack on the Bolsheviks who glorified Soviet realism and shunned impressionist art up until the political thaw of the 1960s.
Russian Impressionism is strangely undervalued, with a cost 10 times less of their French counterparts in the West. Yet, with this new museum, a place may be staked out for future generations to appreciate this small slice of culture, and to pass down its legacy.