The Manege Central Exhibition Hall and the State Russian Museum, in partnership with the State Hermitage and the State Tretyakov Gallery, with support from the St Petersburg Committee for Culture, with the participation of the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts and 32 leading museums all across Russia, and in cooperation with the Autonomous Non-profit Organisation for the Development of Art and Culture “Independent Artists” (ANO “IA”), present the inter-museum art exhibition “Stillness. Russian Classical Sculpture from Shubin to Matveyev”.
“The heart of the exhibition is a large-scale research project that took more than two years. Its purpose was to study the possibilities of presenting to viewers rare sculptures and sculptures that are particularly significant for Russia dating from the second half of the 18th to the early 20th century.”
Elizaveta Pavlycheva, head of the Exhibition Department at Manege Central Exhibition Hall
For the first time, the history of the establishment of a national sculptural school, along with the work of the most prominent masters, eras, styles, and genres of Russian plastic arts, will be presented to viewers through a wide range of examples of Russian sculpture, selected from the collections of the State Russian Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Hermitage, the State Museum of Urban Sculpture, the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum and Reserve, the Peterhof State Museum and Reserve, the Gatchina State Museum and Reserve, the Pavlovsk State Museum and Reserve, the State Museum of the History of St Petersburg, the Tsaritsyno State Museum and Reserve, the Central Naval Museum, the Academic Research Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts, the State Museum of the History of Religion, and many other museums in Russia.
“The exhibition will include not only acknowledged masterpieces, but also works that have only rarely been exhibited. Thanks to this exhibition they will become part of the history of Russian sculpture. Aiding in this will be a foundational academic catalogue, whose illustrations will include not only indoor and smaller-scale sculpture, but also monumental sculpture that can still be seen in St Petersburg.”
Elena Karpova, head of the Sculpture Department of the State Russian Museum
The artistic solution for the exhibition’s space also plays quite an important role. It was developed together with opera director Vasily Barkhatov and Tsirkul Creative Studio.
“The architectural solutions for the exhibition envisage the transformation of the exhibition space of Manege into an archetype of a theatre from imperial Russia. For example, the entrance hall will be transformed into a theatrical foyer, from which you can hear the sounds of an orchestra tuning their instruments. The first floor will reproduce the atmosphere of world-renowned historical theatres. And the second floor is backstage. In and in between all of these spaces, visitors to the exhibition will be able to take in works by the greatest masters of Russian sculpture accompanied by opera arias from the era.”
Aleksandr Kriventsov, architect
Filling the space with sounds of opera creates another dimension, allowing viewers to see the beauty and aesthetic self-sufficiency of the art form of sculpture from another angle.
“One of the difficulties was that both genres have a solid reputation in their own right, but they are completely separate in the minds of most people. They are both seen as exceedingly refined, and as elite, academic, and boring. We do not want viewers to feel that we are trying to prop up one of the genres with the other. We do not want the sculptures to be a decoration for the opera, or for the opera to be a musical accompaniment for the exhibition of the sculptures.
We are simply giving these works a new language for communicating with the viewer. Giving them the right to a voice. And we do this fully aware that any attempt to have one infuse into the other will lead either to a significant enhancement of the beauty and content or to unavoidable banality.
The idea was to allow the viewer to, as it were, step across the orchestra pit during the opera and be in the centre of a frozen mise-en-scène, where each of the sculpted characters is playing its role in the opera and is part of the environment dictated by the libretto and musical drama. Where it is possible for the viewer, we want them to be able, after getting up close, to choose one of the figures they are drawn to from the general ensemble and hear and see only him or her while moving around the theatre and backstage.”
Vasily Barkhatov, opera director
Works by the most talented artists of Russian sculpture can be seen at the exhibition “Stillness. Russian Classical Sculpture from Shubin to Matveyev”: Nikolay Andreyev, Mark Antokolsky, Naoum Aronson, Robert Bach, Vladimir Beklemishev, Aleksandr Belyayev, Léopold Bernstam, Mikhail Blokh, Vasily Bogatyryov, Matvey Chizhov, Vasily Demut-Malinovsky, Gleb Derujinsky, Maria Dillon, Leopold Dietrich, Ivan Efimov, Aleksandr Fon Bock, Samuil Galberg, Ilya Gintsburg, Anna Golubkina, Fyodor Gordeyev, Sergey Ivanov, Konstantin Izenberg, Fyodor Kamensky, Pyotr Klodt, Ivan Kovshenkov, Vasily Kozlov, Mikhail Kozlovsky, Sergey Konyonkov, Vasily Kreitan, Vasily Kuznetsov, Nikolay Laveretsky, Yevgeny Lancere, Nikolay Lieberich, Aleksandr Loganovsky, Ivan Martos, Aleksandr Matveyev, Boris Mikeshin, Mikhail Mikeshin, Artemy Ober, Aleksandr Opekushin, Boris Orlovsky (Smirnov), Nikolay Pimenov, Stepan Pimenov, Ivan Podozyorov, Mikhail Popov, Ivan Prokofyev, Nikolay Ramazanov, Hugo Salemann, Robert Salemann, Ivan Schröder, Fedot Shubin, Fedosy Shchedrin, Pavel Sokolov, Pyotr Stavasser, Dmitry Stelletsky, Yulia Svirskaya, Aleksandr Terebenyov, Fyodor Tosltoy, Pavel Trubetskoy, Sergey Ukhtomsky, Vasily Vatagin, Adel Verner, Ivan Vitali, and Sergey Volnukhin.
65 sculptors will be featured in all.
During the exhibition period will be published a catalogue,“Russian Classical Sculpture from Shubin to Matveyev”, compiled in academic publishing traditions. We hope that the book will help to populate the sparse ranks of publications on Russian sculpture today. The beauty of the sculptures shine through its pages, as it presents each work in artistic photographs from various angles and with attention to detail. The catalogue contains biographies and commentary prepared by a professional team of museum researchers, while its artistic formulation is the work of graphic designers Irina Chekmaryova and Andrey Shelyutto.
“We hope that the catalogue will be of comparable interest to experts in the field and those who simply love art. It is the first time that such comprehensive information on both well-known and half-forgotten Russian sculptors has been compiled into one volume.”
Vladimir Yevseyev, advisor to the director on academic matters, Manege Central Exhibition Hall
• Elena Karpova (State Russian Museum) – chief curator
• Natalia Logdachyova (State Russian Museum)
• Evelina Tarasova (State Hermitage)
• Vladimir Yevseyev (Manege Central Exhibition Hall)
• Elizaveta Pavlycheva (Manege Central Exhibition Hall)
Concept: Pavel Prigara
Artistic design: Vasily Barkhatov
Architectural design: Aleksandr Kriventsov (Tsirkul Creative Studio)
Graphic design: Andrey Shelyutto, Irina Chekmaryova (Faro Studio)
Sound design: Alexander Aidakin, Sergey Makarov, Dmitry Yolkin, Denis Kalyadin
Exhibition build: Decor-Atelier, Natalia Korchagina