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In The News

Nov 12 2013

Catherine's Greatest Hits

Posted by admin22 on Nov 12 2013

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A new art exhibit in the UK, “Houghton Revisited: The Walpole Masterpieces from Catherine the Great’s Hermitage,” highlights the role that art can play in fostering improved diplomatic relations between Russia and the West.

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The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg was selected by the Board of Manifesta Foundation because of its critical intellectual and historical relationship with East and West Europe: a uniting principal that is also central to Manifesta, as the single roving European biennial of contemporary art. Manifesta 10 will consider the historical perspective of St. Peterburg's view to the West, and its extensive relationship with Europe at large. Other venues in the city will also participate and further details will be announced soon.

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Feb 28 2013

Oleg Vassiliev's Obituary

Posted by admin22 on Feb 28 2013

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Oleg VladimirovichVassiliev

(1931 -2013)

It is with great sadness that The Hermitage Museum Foundation announces the death of Oleg Vassiliev on Friday, 25 January 2013, after a long struggle with cancer.

Vassiliev has long been regarded as one of the most significant Russian artists of his generation.  Born in Moscow in 1931 he is widely known as one of the leading figures of the “unofficial” Russian Art movement (also known as Soviet Non-comformist Art), which originated in the 1960s – 70s.  Together with Erik Bulatov, and along side another long-time friend and colleague, Ilya Kabakov, he illustrated children’s books for half of each year to earn a living.  For the remainder of the year, he and his colleagues made art for themselves.  Vassiliev’s artistic vision opposed the ideologies of the State-endorsed Socialist Realism, combining constructivist approaches of the 1920s with the Russian realism of the 19th Century.  As noted by Kabakov at a dinner sponsored by the Hermitage Museum Foundation in New York in 2011, “Vassiliev was able to unite the innovative, formalist investigations and directions of the early 20th Century Russian avant-garde with the humanity, lyricism and appeal to real life that was characteristic of Russian 19th Century painting.  Vassiliev did a very important thing; he returned the visual narrative to the picture, and I believe he is one of the most important artists of his generation.” 

Hermitage Museum Foundation Board Member Neil Rector, a long-time friend of Vassiliev, added:  “From the first time I saw it, Vassiliev’s work touched me deeply.  Although I knew nothing about the people or places depicted in the paintings, and although they seemed on the surface to have nothing to do with me, the work somehow prompted me to look within myself, to reflect on my own life and to think about those family members and close friends who have been most important to me.  The writer Francine Prose might have said it best when she asked:  ‘And why do we feel these seemingly peaceful, deserted landscapes are so thickly populated by restless ghosts?’”

Rector has known Vassiliev and collected his work for 20 years.  In 2012, he donated a major Vassiliev painting, “Artistic Vision,” 2009, to the Hermitage Museum’s permanent collection.

In 1990 Vassiliev emigrated with his family to the United States, moving first to New York and then to Minneapolis Minnesota where he lived and worked until his death. Always charming, curious and enthusiastic, he managed his illness with great fortitude and continued to paint until shortly before his death.

Works by Oleg Vassiliev are held in international private and public art collections including: The Hermitage Museum and the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg; the State Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art in Moscow; the Kunstmuseum in Bern Switzerland; and numerous other museums in the United States and Europe.   

The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis, held a major exhibition of his paintings and drawings in 2011-12.  In February 2012, the “Oleg Vassiliev Visiting Artist Fund” was established in his honor at the Yale University School of Art.

A Memorial Service for Vassiliev is expected to be held sometime this Spring or Summer in the New York area.


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