September 14 - November 13, 2011
At the exhibition participate works from the collection of Sepherot Foundation (Liechtenstein)
The exhibition of Boris Dmitrievich Grigoriev (1886-1939), one of the most prominent artists of the early 20th century, is dedicated to the 125th anniversary of his birth. A sort of chronicler of his time, attentive and merciless to it, Grigoriev was far from the idealization of nature. In a wicked, sometimes grotesque manner, he painted portraits of famous contemporaries: F.I. Chaliapin (1918), A.M. Gorky (1926), N. Remizov (1932-33), as well as numerous nameless characters/types from everyday life to which he gave keen names/labels «A man with a beard», «Zhigan and prostitute», «Oyster pickers», «Concierge», «Whore from Marseille». The creative biography of B.D. Grigoriev conditionally fit in between the two world wars, when bright artistic trends appeared one by one in art. B.D. Grigoriev did not identify himself through an affiliation to some «-ism”, he was rather a lone artist. Debut of B.D. Grigoriev at the exhibition in 1913 forced people to speak of him as of a brilliant draftsman. In the mid-1910s, the artist was seen as continuing the tradition of the St. Petersburg modern, or rather – of the movement «World of Art», with its cosmopolitanism and passion for retrospective motives, theatricality, a taste for irony and performance. Stage effect, «positioning» can be found in his famous «Portrait of Meyerhold” (1916).Beginning from 1916, neoclassical features enhanced in the painting of B.D. Grigoriev, the portrait characteristics became more rigid and sober. In the «Portrait of Feodor Chaliapin” (1918) the image of the great singer is devoid of any hint of idealization, and the scale of the personality is transmitted by exaggerated, sculptural modeling of the form. In 1917-1918, B.D. Grigoriev was experiencing his highest popularity. He created two painting and graphic series – «Intimité» and «Rasseya», which became simultaneously the peak of his creativity and most controversial, even shocking creations of his talent.
«Intimité» is the exposing of the myth about the Beautiful Lady, praised by the art of the Silver Age, an honest story of a modern woman, who lives in the world of coarse instincts, greed and indifference. Eroticism, essential for the era, gets here a new, sometimes sinister character.The series «Rasseya» - an epic, wide, and at the same time, documentary full-scale image of the Russian countryside - seemed even more unexpected and bold in 1918. In the painting «Peasant Land» (1917), the faces of peasants turned to the audience are full of wild hatred, simmering dissatisfaction, which was ready to turn into desperate, unpredictable actions. Cold, hammered plastic language enhanced the tragic expression of images. The series «Rasseya» gave contemporaries a reason to compare B.D. Grigoriev with Dostoyevsky, which made the artist proud. Probably «Rasseya» made such a shock in 1918, also because it drew a line under the 19th century, which was marked by a utopian belief in a particular social and religious truth of the people, and the beginning of the twentieth century hardly believed this «truth». Both series have been published in the form of original publications - albums, which will be presented at the exhibition, with texts of the artist and professional writers.In addition, B.D. Grigoriev gave utterance to his passion for the art of words: we know that he was the author of the novel «Young Rays» (1912), he wrote poems, and published critical essays. In 1919, B.D. Grigorev left Russia, settled first in Berlin and then in Paris. His emigrant fate was going well: personal exhibitions were held in Paris, Milan, Prague, New York, where Grigoriev was very popular as a portraitist. He traveled to South America twice, and ended his days in the town of Cagnes-sur-Mer on the Cote d'-Azur. In these years B.D. Grigorev was especially excited about distinctness of different national characters and the sense of self. In Brittany, Provence, Italy he noticed peculiarities of appearance, temper, way of life of the inhabitants of these places, and succinct portraits/characters appeared in his creative work: «A woman from Bourg de Batz» (about 1925), «Poverty» (1925), «My Gardener» (mid-1920), in the last year of his life, he painted a symbolic creepy «German Butcher. The Face of Germany» (1938).But Russia had not released B.D. Grigoriev. Its images and memories transformed into the «Faces of Russia» in the series having the same name (1921-1923), in the «Portrait of Gorky» (1926) they pass in front of the author, exciting his imagination. The artist hoped to return to Russia, but, in his words, «like a son, but not a stepson». In later years B.D. Grigoriev admitted that he was tired of being “an accuser”. In “Portrait of S.V. Rachmaninov» (1930), the film «The Cellist» (1938), and others, the artist set the creative energy of artists against the cataclysms of the modern world. His landscapes of the 1930s - the sceneries of South America, where the neoclassical austerity gave way to a picturesque freedom denoted harmony. The exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery is a continuation of the project of the Russian Museum, and includes about 150 works from museums of Moscow, St. Petersburg and the provinces, Russian and foreign private collections and galleries. In addition to paintings and drawings, the exhibit will include letters of Grigoriev, stored in the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Editions of his works from the library of the Tretyakov Gallery.