December 24, 2013
SUNDAY FROM MY DESK
Moscow’s traffic and congestion are famous and beyond belief
– much more impressive than the cold here.
So it is not the snowfall paralyzing the city, but the congestion,
and it becomes such a normal part of being here that you learn to use it.
It is very good for thinking, meditating and taking your time, no rush…
because you can’t! The jams give you time to dream,
read, look at books… while you calmly wait in the endless lines.
The trip to Moscow this week has been a trip to museums of beauty
– they always bring me calm.
Before leaving Moscow a visit to one of the most beautiful
Russian Orthodox churches to light a candle.
The mystical atmosphere of the Orthodox churches
with the many icons and candles is always
a magic and spiritual moment.
Here, the 17th century Saint Nicholas church,
a national treasure of great beauty.
The red here is famous for its density and purity,
seen in this Saint Panteleimon icon. He changed his name when
he became a Christian to Panteleimon meaning “all merciful”.
This image from northern Greece XIV century
is at the Pushkin museum in Moscow.
The biggest retrospective to date of Natalia Goncharova
is now at the Tretyakov Gallery. She was a talent with many outlets
– a painter, textile designer and, while living in Paris,
she created sets and costumes for the Ballets Russes.
Her work is now collected and more appreciated as her role in Russia’s
pre revolution avant-garde becomes more widely known.
It is an exhibition with all her work, with a big part
dedicated to fashion and textile designs. Here, on the left
–a costume design for “the night on Bald Mountain” ballet, 1923 .
On the right dancer Olga Spessivtseva in one of Goncharova’s costumes,1933.
At the same time and also at Tretyakov Gallery, an interesting exhibition
of her husband, artist Mikhail Larionov,
with whom she shared many exhibitions and was perhaps
overshadowed by him during their life together.
A special treat has been a private visit to Melnikov’s own house in Moscow,
thought to be his most exciting work still standing. His grand daughter lives there
and she showed us the cylindrical house, one of the most unusual
and unique in the world. Conceived with such a great sense
of space and light – the diamond windows,
the round terrace, each room a discovery of perfection.
Built in 1927-29, the house and studio is a masterpiece
of 20th century Russian architecture. Katerina Karinskaya is devoting
her life to save the building, sadly in danger.
Conceived in 1922 by Vladimir Shukhov
as a broadcasting station – radiofònica Shukhov tower.
Shukhov was renowned for his industrial and structural innovations.
This is another of the best ever architectural works of 20th century Russia.
The metal structure is 160 meters high, a unique combination of art
and engineering and recognized in Jean-Louis Cohen’s
“The Future of Architecture Since 1889” as not only the emblem
of Soviet television, but a masterpiece of the Russian Avant Garde
and an enduring influence in contemporary design.
Sadly, it is in poor repair and in danger of being lost too.
There were two revolutions in Russia – the one that has lasted
started with a Group Exhibition called 0.10 –
Last Futurist Exhibition at Madame N.E.
Dobychina’s private gallery in St. Petersburg.
In 1913, Kazimir Malevich hung without a frame in a corner,
a black square painted in oil.
Only one painting from the show was sold.
Here, Black Square. Around 1920, the students of Malevich
sewed a black square to their sleeves
– a sign that they were “Champions of the New Art”.
On the right “woman with a Rake”- 1928-1932, Tretyakov Gallery.
The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam is now showing
a large exhibition of Russian Avant-Garde work.
Holding the largest collection of Malevich paintings outside Russia,
the show will run through February and with 500 paintings, it is worth the trip.
The paintings were assembled by two collectors at a time
when abstract art was forbidden in the Soviet Union
and the first time they have been brought together.
This is one of the best metaphysical works of Malevich, 1933.
Out of time, out of space.