The work of Louise Bourgeois can be described as an encyclopedia of modern art. In it one can detect traces of the influence of all the leading artistic tendencies of the 20th century – Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, Abstractionism and Conceptualism, but at the same time the artist’s sculpture, painting and graphic art is marked by an emphatically personal expression of her creative identity. All Louise Bourgeois’s works were created under the influence of her impressions of life, impressions that have their roots deep in the artist’s childhood. Bourgeois herself spoke figuratively of being “like a collector of spaces and memories”.
HMF, with the support of Howard Greenberg and Deborah Bell, has made a gift of 21 pictures made by five 20th-century American photographers: Bruce Davidson, Leon Levinstein, Arthur Leipzig, Aaron Siskind, and Louis Faurer.
The images greatly expand the representation of American photography in the Hermitage Museum’s Contemporary Art Collection, already enriched with works by Annie Leibovitz, Steve McCurry, Candida Höfer, and others.
HMF Director, Joachim Pissarro, joined Whitney Museum curator, Barbara Haskell, and art historian, Olga Yudina, on a Foundation-sponsored webinar to discuss the Whitney exhibition “Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art’, 1925-1945.”
Watch the above video (1 hour) and follow the link below to explore the exhibit online.
Through the efforts of the Foundation the Hermitage Museum has acquired several photographs made by Mid-20th Century American artists, including works by Bruce Davidson, Louis Faurer, Arthur Leipzig, Leon Levinstein, and Aaron Siskind.
Curator and HMF board member, Thierry Morel, has co-authored “The Splendor of St. Petersburg: Art & Life in Late Imperial Palaces of Russia,” with Elizaveta Renne, senior curator at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. This accessible and scholarly work is described as “an unprecedented tour of the most stunning and architecturally significant palatial homes of Russia’s nobility, many not previously photographed and inaccessible to visitors.”
The 300-page book was published by under the Rizzoli Electa imprint.
In 2018 , the celebrated photographer, Annie Leibovitz, worked with the Foundation making a gift of major works exhibited at the Hermitage Museum as part of the museum’s continuing effort to expand the display of 20th century art.
As the Hermitage expands its collection and exhibition program of American art, Alice Walton invited Hermitage Museum Director, Professor Piotrovsky and HMF to visit her collection of American art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
The Crystal Bridges Museum, dedicated to American art, was designed by architect Moshe Safdie and opened in 2011.
In dialogue published in the Gagosian Quarterly, HMF Honorary Board Chairman and Hermitage Museum Director, Professor Mikhail Piotrovsky, and HMF Board Chairman Torkom Demirjian discuss the historical reach of the State Hermitage Museum’s collections and the value of preserving art in spite of cultural politics.
Larry Gagosian graciously hosted an intimate dinner for Professor Piotrovsky and several art collectors in his home. Ahead of dinner, HMF Chairman, Torkom Demirjian, interviewed Professor Piotrovsky for Gagosian Quarterly Magazine.
In 2017, for the very first time in Russia, the State Hermitage Museum inaugurated a solo exhibition of one of the most famous contemporary artist, Anselm Kiefer.
Located in the Nicholas Hall of the Winter Palace, the exhibition is organized by the State Hermitage Museum in close collaboration with the artist and in cooperation with Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London/Paris/Salzburg. Anselm Kiefer dedicated the exhibition to the great Russian poet Velimir Khlebnikov.
HMF attended the induction of Honorary HMF Board Chairman and Hermitage Museum Director, Professor Mikhail Piotrovsky, to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in October 2016, Cambridge MA.
The Academy was founded during the American Revolution by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other “scholar-patriots” who contributed to the establishment of the new nation. The Academy was created to provide a forum for scholars, members of the learned professions, and leaders in government and business to work together on behalf of the democratic interests of the republic. Today, the Academy is an international learned society that brings together men and women from every field and profession to anticipate, examine, and confront critical issues facing our global society.
HMF Honorary Board Chairman and Hermitage Museum Director, Professor Mikhail Piotrovsky, was joined by Timothy Rub, Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in conversation to celebrate the publication of My Hermitage: How the Hermitage Survived Tsars, Wars and Revolutions to become the Greatest Museum in the World.
The book is a joint production of Rizzoli and St Petersburg-based publishing house Arka. The American edition is marked by the subtitle on the cover: “How the Hermitage Survived Tsars, Wars, and Revolutions to become the Greatest Museum in the World”. Also participating in the presentation were members of the board of the Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA), headed by its Chairman, Torkom Demirjian.
The State Hermitage Museum has received ten sculptures and thirteen drawings by Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973), a French-American sculptor, a native of Russia, as a gift from the Lipschitz Foundation, USA.
The works representing 40 years of the artistic life of the painter, from the Cubist sculptures of the 1930s (“Jacob and the Angel”, 1932) to the late graphic drawings (“Rape of Europa”, about 1868-1972), were donated to the museum thanks to the active assistance of the Hermitage Foundation in the USA. The works will become a part of the collection of Modern Art of the State Hermitage Museum, and will be exhibited in the General Staff Building as a part of the project “Room of the Artist”. Following the existing rooms dedicated to Dmitry Prigov and Ilya Kabakov, the room dedicated to Jacques Lipschitz is scheduled to be opened by the end of August 2015 in the General Staff Building.
Each year the Hermitage Museum Foundation Award is presented to a major Russian and American artist, or significant philanthropist, who has contributed to the Hermitage Museum as a unique cultural institution and one of the world’s greatest repositories for our common human heritage. The Hermitage Museum Foundation Award for lifelong artistic achievements represents an opportunity to exercise cultural diplomacy by recognizing the many links between Russia’s and the United States’ artistic communities, museum, research, and collecting traditions.
In 2014, Dr. Mikhail B. Piotrovsky and Mr. Paul Rodzianko, along with the Board of Directors of the Hermitage Museum Foundation, had the pleasure of honoring Richard Serra, Leonid Sokov, and Helen W. Drutt English.
The Restoration of Titian’s The Flight into Egypt was made possible thanks to the generosity of Drs. George and Christina Sosnovsky.
This work, painted in the early 1500s, came into the Hermitage between 1763 and 1774. In the second half of the 19th century it was moved to the Gatchina palace, from where it returned to the Hermitage in 1924.
Since March 1999, on the suggestion of the Restoration Commission for Easel Painitng, Titian’s canvas has been undergoing complex restoration in the State Hermiatge’s Laboratory for the Scientific Restoration of Easel Painting.
Visual investigation by the restorers A.V. Kuznetsov and V.V. Shatsky showed that the painting had been lined with thin linen canvas, the original canvas being made of three pieces 66, 71 and 67 centimetres wide sewn together with horizontal seams. The connection between the paint layer and the primer was poor and separation and loss of the paint layer had occurred in may places across the whole surface. In the course of one of the previous restorations (apparently in the 18th century), the painting had been enlarged by the addition of a 9-centimetre-wide attachment on the right-hand side.
There were striking stiff deformations of the original base along the lines of the horizontal seams that interfered with the viewer’s perception of the painting as a single whole. The artist’s colour scheme had been distorted by the numerous layers of darkened and yellowed varnish that had been applied to the painting in its lifetime. Visual examination in conjunction with studies of luminescence under ultra-violet light showed a large number of insertions of different dates overlying the artist’s own painting and in places entirely concealing it. This interference was most probably prompted by damage caused to the original paint layer as a result of inept restoration in the 18th century.
The complex restoration work was entrusted to Kuznetsov and Shatsky, two restoration artists of the highest category. The paint layer was reattached to the primer across the whole surface. The painting was removed from the stretcher and the backing canvas removed. After the removal of the old restorers’ glue from the back of the original canvas, the paint layer was again reattached to the primer across the whole surface, after which the deformations were removed. On the reverse the area of the seams was treated with a wax-resin mastic and strengthened with bands of mica paper after which the painting was relined with dense linen canvas and placed on a new stretcher.
The exhibition “The Collection of Contemporary Applied Art, 1948–2013: a Gift from the Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA)” opened in December 2014 in the Eastern Wing of the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage Museum.
It presented 74 jewelry items and art objects made of pottery, glass and textile from 1948 to 2013. The exhibition has been brought together through the efforts of Helen W. Drutt English and Matthew J. Drutt and presented to the State Hermitage Museum by the Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA) at the annual benefit event in New York held on November 10, 2014 to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the Museum.
These two portraits by the noted Danish painter Vigilius Eriksen of the noted Orlov brothers. Grigory Orlov, pictured in Roman costume, was a lover of the Empress Catherine the Great and one of her closest advisors. Alexi, depicted in Turkish dress, was one of Catherine’s ablest military and diplomatic leaders. The portraits are oil on large canvases and are known to us chiefly from black and white reproductions. The paintings were put in storage during World War II, and were only recently unwrapped.
In 1766, Catherine the Great ordered the first Russian carousel, an imitation of the exhibitions of horseback riding, swordsmanship and shooting then popular in all the great courts of Europe. While this event was repeated in subsequent years, no subsequent celebration inspired so many artistic and literary creations as the first. There are references to the event in the works of Casanova, Poroshin, Voltaire and V.P. Petrov as well as numerous paintings and other works of art.
These portraits hung in the Winter Palace until the reign of Paul I began in 1796. They were stored in warehouses for many years, were sent to the Court Stable Chancellery in 1827 and found their way to the Gatchina Palace in 1833. After World War II they were stored in the Central Warehouse of Museum Holdings at the Hermitage.
Once restored, the portraits became part of the main exhibition dedicated the reign of Catherine the Great.
American Contemporary Art icon Jeff Koons and Erik Bulatov, one of Russia’s and Eastern Europe’s most important living artists, will be honored at the Hermitage Museum Foundation’s 3rd Annual Gala co-hosted with Phillips de Pury & Company on Saturday, November 10th, in New York. Hermitage Museum Director Dr. Mikhail B. Piotrovsky will present Foundation Awards to Koons and Bulatov for their lifelong artistic achievements and contributions to contemporary art. Philanthropist and collector Neil K. Rector will be recognized for his gift of Russian artist Oleg Vassiliev’s “Artistic Vision 2009” to the Hermitage Museum’s Contemporary art collection in St. Petersburg. The gift inaugurates the Hermitage Museum Foundation’s Art from America Program.
Catherine II’s Parisian correspondent, Baron Melchior Grimm, who kept the Empress abreast of political and cultural events in the French capital, regularly informed her of how work was progressing on the unusual bureau being made in Roentgen’s workshop in Neuwied on the Rhine. Catherine looked forward with eager anticipation to adding it to her collection. In 1784 David Roentgen brought the Apollo Bureau to St Petersburg and it became an adornment of the interior of the Large Hermitage, the building that had just been constructed to house the Empress’s collections of art. This was the first work by Roentgen to feature architectural forms. The design was probably chosen with an eye to the tastes of the intended purchaser: from Grimm he knew about the scale of construction work in St Petersburg and of Catherine’s obsession with it. The mahogany bureau with gilded bronze decoration fitted with complex mechanical devices and a musical mechanism delighted the Russian Empress. The mechanisms that Roentgen produced in collaboration with the mechanic Peter Kinzing made it possible to open book-rests, change the cabinets, open side-panels and play music recorded on cylinders. The piece of furniture is crowned by a sculptural depiction of Apollo on Mount Parnassus. A similar figure of the Greek god had first been used in Paris in 1776 in a work for Prince Charles of Lorraine, the governor of the Austrian Netherlands. Francois Remond created it from a model by the sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot. The craftsmen then repeated the design several times. Exactly the same figure of Apollo sits atop a long-case clock in the Hermitage collection.
Catherine II liked to show Roentgen’s unique pieces to her guests in the Hermitage. About 1790 the Empress gave orders for the Apollo Bureau to be placed on public display in the Academy of Sciences. Then, in the 19th century, the Large Bureau returned to the Winter Palace.
With time the piece gradually lost its magnificence and the mechanisms began to work poorly. In the 1980s a thorough restoration was carried out in the Hermitage workshops. All the complex interior mechanics were put back in order. They splendidly selected grain of the mahogany veneer could again be seen at its best. The bronze decoration was cleaned and the musical mechanism set right. Today the Apollo Bureau can be seen in the White Hall of the Winter Palace in which the majority of Roentgen’s works are displayed.
Thanks to the generosity of the Arthur and Holly Magill Foundation a selection of rare maps and plans were restored from an album containing engravings from the first quarter of the eighteenth century.
These rare maps and plans relate to events in the reign of Peter the Great during the first part of the 18th Century, and are a historic snapshot of Russia’s rise as a modern nation. Executed by such famous engravers as Adriaan Schoonebeek, Alexei Zubov and Pieter Pikart, the selected 15 works include the first map printed in Russia, “Drawing of the Eastern Part of the Azov Sea,” for which the Emperor himself did the topographic measurements.
Peter the I, also known as the Great, was a tireless reformer who led Russia into the forefront of European politics. Determined to modernize his country, he oversaw the introduction of Western technology including science, mapmaking, shipbuilding, armaments, architecture, fashion and more. These early maps and plans are a vital legacy of how his efforts transformed not only his country, but all of Europe.
The unbound album pages are yellowed and spotted, with creases, folds and tears. Colors have faded and worn. The pages need to be restored, remounted and preserved for scientific study and exhibition.
raduation ceremony for the students of the boarding school for blind and visually impaired children of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region who finished the 3-year study course under the Past at the Fingertips programme
24 April 2009, in the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre of the State Hermitage Museum the graduation ceremony for blind and visually impaired children who finished the 3-year study course under the Past at the Fingertips programme took place.
The programme was created taking into consideration the specifics of the perception of the surrounding world by blind and visually impaired children. During the classes the children have an opportunity to get familiar with the ancient human history while acting as scientists. The programme is based on the use of archaeological materials which give an opportunity to reconstruct an “image” of a certain epoch. Such specialization is not accidental. It is in archaeology that the objects carry information within and any object can be “seen” with hands by touching it.
One-time introductory classes are intended for the students of the 2nd and the 3rd forms and theмfull 3-year cycle is intended for the 4th, 5th and 6th forms. This age group was determined after 6-months pilot work with the students of the 2nd-11th forms. The students of the 4th form possess sufficient knowledge and life experience required for active participation in the class and are ready to accept quite difficult and diverse information. The topics of the classes are partially synchronized with the school curriculum but they do not exclude but complete it. The first year of the studies is dedicated to the Stone Age, the second year – to the Bronze Epoch, the third year – to the Iron Age and the Middle Ages. Each class is divided into three parts: the “excavations”, theoretical part and creative task. The rotation of the types of activities helps to maintain a certain rhythm of the class and to avoid quick fatigability of the children.
The excavations are conducted in special sandboxes filled with quartz sand that is silky to the touch. ‘Archaeological findings’ are replicas of the items from the Hermitage Museum archaeological collections created specially for the class and differing from the originals only in age. All of the replicas are created following the ancient technologies from the authentic original materials. Each of the epochs presented during the studies is represented not only by a certain set of the labour instruments, crockery and decorations but also by miniature models of archaeological artefacts in the historical landscape designed for tactile sensing (for example, a model of a hut built of mammoth bones found in Kostenky or a model of the Staraya Ladoga Fortress).
Theoretical part of the class is devoted to examining the findings. Active participation in this part develops the ability to accept quite difficult information aurally, logically state and argue in favour of the own point of view and work in team. This part of the class can be supplemented with a slide-film created specially for its content, brightness and contrast to be perceived by the visually impaired children. When needed the slides are simultaneously duplicated by the relief contour images.
Creative task which finishes the class is formulated depending on the topic being studied and includes a role-play element. The children are suggested to act as ancient masters – potters, jewellers and hunters. The rules of the game are dictated by the technical opportunities of the relevant epoch. So when making ‘Neolithic’ ceramics the children have to stick to certain methods of moulding which were introduced to them during the class. Some creative tasks are accompanied with relevant music.
The programme curriculum involves the teaching of one class per year not in the environment of the study class to which the children are accustomed but in the halls of the Hermitage Museum on the permanent exposition. Such an immersion into a real and size-wise different museum space brings new feelings: another sound of your own voice, strange steps and voices of the visitors etc. During the classes taught in the halls replicas brought from the class are used to help the children (especially the blind and visually impaired children) to remember the studied material.
The development of the Past at the Fingertips programme began in January 2005 and since January 2006 systematic classes have been taught. The creation of the programme became possible due to the longstanding collaboration of the State Hermitage Museum with St. Petersburg boarding schools for the blind and visually impaired children (Boarding school N1 named after Konstantin Karlovich Grot and Boarding School N2).
Over 340 classes were given for 442 pupils since the beginning of the project. Today the archaeological classes are being attended by the pupils of the two above mentioned schools as well as the pupils of the boarding school for blind and visually impaired in Mga.
Depending on the audience the terms and the content of the Past at the Fingertips programme can be corrected for other age groups.
The programme is conducted with the support of the Hermitage Fund (USA), Kennedy Centre International Committee on the Arts (USA), JSC Imperial Porcelain Factory, Novy Metsenat Magazine and LLC OMS-SPb. The title sponsor of the programme is LLC Heineken United Breweries. The sponsors are JSC Hlebny Dom, FAZER group, Russia chocolate factory and CJSC CafeMax St. Petersburg. The partner of the project is The World Club of Petersburgers.
The Antiquities Department of the State Hermitage holds more than 100 pieces in bronze, acquired in the mid-nineteenth century from the Marquis Campana. Thanks to the generosity of the Arthur and Holly Magill Foundation, this restoration project has already been underwritten and work on the restoration is under way.
These pieces are among the more than 100 bronze objects acquired from the Marquis Campana by the Antiquities Department of the State Hermitage. Dating back to pre-Roman times, these pieces are a unique part of the historic record of European civilization. The rest of the Marquis’ collection was purchased by the Louvre.
An avid antiquarian, the Marquis Campana financed and took part in numerous archeological digs throughout Italy and oversaw a number of workshops charged with the restoration of the objects he discovered. While undertaken with the best intentions, the fact is that 19th-century restoration techniques were less than adequate by modern standards. Pieces were reconstructed according to contemporary fashions, fragments from different eras were incorporated into the object resulting in strange anachronisms and entire works were often recreated out of a small authentic fragment.
Today, the collection suffers from corrosion of both original and restored materials. The items need to be analyzed, cataloged and compared with the Louvre’s holdings. When completed, the collection will become part of the permanent exhibition of pre-Roman Italy and the Etruscans, as well as incorporated into temporary exhibits on “Aromas of Antiquity” and the collection of the Marquis.
The Foundation was pleased to fund the 2008 republishing of this volume celebrating Cy Twombly’s work exhibited at the Hermitage in 2003.
Cy Twombly’s gestures are some of the most beloved in 20th century art. The painter, graphic artist, sculptor and photographer is prized above all for the sweeping, scribbled marks that he makes with his drawing instruments. Though mostly indecipherable, at least on a literal level, Twombly’s colorful, dense gestures are compellingly articulate in their rhythm, line, allusion and mood. Deeply sophisticated and sensual, they follow in the footsteps of Western tradition while speaking resolutely in the hushed and tentative tones of the modern age, defying prevailing stylistic clichas and mediating between the old and new worlds. This exceptional volume presents 50 years of drawings by the artist, most taken from his own personal collection.
This portrait was in very bad shape and was restored entirely thanks to a donation from Prof. George Sosnovsky and Dr. Christine Sosnovsky to the American Friends of the State Hermitage Museum for this restoration.
The famous artistically patterned parquet floors of the State Hermitage, created to designs by prominent 19th century architects, have now reached a considerable age.Time, heavy wear and the poor state of the underlying sub-floors have led to destruction of the parquet. Complete protection is not provided even by modern “water-based” wear-resistant coatings that are used in the halls by a special museum service. Consequently the “Hermitage Floors” programme was instituted for the restoration of the parquet floors of the museum. Until the year 2000, all the work was carried out by craftsmen of the Hermitage’s own Special Scientific Restoration Workshops.
In 2000 the Petersburg Restoration Company was invited to work on the programme. The firm restored the parquet (360 sq m) in the Raphael Loggias using sanding machines and materials that made it possible to achieve a perfectly even and smooth surface. The floors in the halls of Dutch painting (300 sq m), the Large Church of the Winter Palace (431 sq m) and the Hermitage Theatre (130 sq m) were also restored.
One further innovation was the development of a “technical dossier” for the floors in each room indicating all relevant data (surface area of the floor, materials, description of the design, state of preservation, work carried out, etc). The introduction of this documentation will help to improve the servicing of the Hermitage parquets.
In 2001 a total area of 2,826 square metres of decorative parquet was restored, almost twice as much as in 2000. A number of contractors were employed at once to work on the floors: the Special Scientific Restoration Workshops of the State Hermitage, and the companies Parquet-Hall and Resstroi. Work was carried out in the Blackamoor and Malachite Rooms, the Ministerial Corridor and the rooms housing the permanent display of British art in the Winter Palace; in the Knights’ Room, Spanish and Italian Cabinets in the New Hermitage; and also in parts of other museum buildings.
Depending on the age of the parquet, the design and the state of the sub-floor, different restoration techniques were used and different species of wood: ebony, rosewood, mahogany, palisander, amaranth, maple, sandalwood and boxwood, among others. Particular attention was paid to the refurbishment of the supporting sub-floor (panels made of pine boards laid on the joists), as its condition to a large extent determines that of the parquet above. After restoration the parquet was covered with six coats of water-based varnish that does not give off any substances harmful to people or to the museum exhibits.
In 2002 the parquet floor in the Room of the Cavalier Guard (the Greuze Room) was reconstructed. This room was decorated by Alexander Briullov after the Winter Palace fire of 1837. The decorative painting of the ceiling, the carving on the doors and the ornamental parquet were all produced to his designs.
Time and heavy wear did not spare the parquet. It was badly worn and had numerous cracks and missing parts, and the sub-floor was destroyed to a large extent. The thickness of the strips of decorative parquet came to no more than 0.5-2 mm, when the thickness of new parquet elements was 9 mm. Bearing in mind all these circumstances, it was decided not to restore the parquet, but instead to recreate a new floor which would be set down on a new foundation. This decision was approved by the Committee of the State Inspectorate for Preservation of Monuments.
Recreation of such a large area of decorative parquet as the Greuze Room (103 sq m) had not been undertaken in the Hermitage for the past 120 years. The museum announced a competition which was won by a long-time partner of the Hermitage, the Moscow-based company Parquet-Hall-Centre-L.
Before work began, the design of the parquet was copied onto tracing paper and a photographic record was made of elements of the entire floor. Special boards and two layers of plywood were laid to make a sub-floor as a base for the parquet. Rosewood, wenge, ebony, kempas, walnut, pear, guaycan, palisander and maple were used to recreate the original design. The parquet pieces were glued in place without the use of fasteners, using the marquetry technique. As a result the thickness of the useful layer of the parquet elements increased to 15 mm. Then the parquet was coated with varnish.
The repair work on the parquet floors in 2003 can be roughly divided into three basic categories: recreation, restoration and removal of the lacquer. The decision was taken to recreate the parquet in the following rooms: the Anteroom (394 sq m), the Pantry next to the Commandant’s Staircase (40 sq m) – both done by the Viktoriya company – and the first-floor landing of the Commandant’s Staircase (77 sq m). Restoration of the parquet was carried out in the Nicholas (1,101 sq m) and Concert (390 sq m) Halls by the Design Studio Abris company, as well as in the hollow area of the Eastern Gallery (186 sq m) – by the Viktoriya company.
Work of the third kind was done in the Raphael Loggias (360 sq m) by Parquet-Hall-Centre-L. Here two years earlier the parquet had been restored, and now it only needed lacquer to be reapplied using a technique that was new to the Hermitage. This involved replacing the damaged and dirty layer of the lacquer without increasing its overall thickness or changing its transparency.
In the Nicholas and Concert Halls restoration work was made difficult by the scale of the task and the condition of the parquet itself. Thirty percent of the sub-floor and parquet had to be completely replaced and this meant finding various species of precious wood such as ebony, lemon tree, several varieties of mahogany and boxwood.
In the Anteroom the damage was severe: planks of the sub-floor and parquet panels were partly destroyed and the parquet elements were worn down to the thickness of paper, while in some places the surface pattern was missing entirely and the lacquer coating had cracked. As a result it was necessary to recreate the parquet while respecting the design, the colours and species of wood, and also to replace the foundation of the floor.
In 2004 work was carried out to restore the floors of the Rotunda and the Dark Corridor of the Winter Palace. These parquet floors have a complicated geometric pattern in straight lines made from exotic species of wood and decorated with an engraving, so that it was especially difficult for restorers and required a great deal of hand-made decorative carving. The work was carried out by specialists of the company Parquet-Hall-Centre-L who took three months to restore the decorative parquet and do engraving in the missing parts, to reinforce the sub-floor and coat the parquet with a protective lacquer (648 sq m) Technical supervision of the restoration was performed by employees of the Department of the Chief Mechanic of the State Hermitage (O.V. Tolpygin, director).
April 2006 saw the completion of the restoration of parquet floors in the rooms of French 15th- to 18th-century art. The floors in these rooms were made in the mid-19th century at Ye.A. Miller’s factory in St Petersburg to designs by Alexander Briullov. The difficulty of restoration lay in the fact that these compositions of precious woods (palisander, walnut, sandalwood and others) had been worn down to the thickness of a veneer sheet and in places lost altogether. There were later inserts of other kinds of timber. The subfloor had disintegrated to a significant degree. Restoration work involved replacement of the parquet elements no longer suitable for use. The selection of timber was made on the basis of expert examination or archive documentation. After restoration the floors were covered with special hard-wearing lacquer using a method approved by the Committee of the State Inspectorate for the Preservation of Monuments (KGIOP). The main difficulty was sanding away the accumulated layers of old lacquer. Great skill was required at this stage to avoid damage to the thin parquet pattern.
Restoration was carried out over an area of 780 square metres by the Parquet Hall company under the direction of the Hermitage’s Department of the Chief Mechanic (headed by Oleg Tolpygin) in accordance with a project agreed with the KGIOP.
Willem de Kooning. Late Paintings – A traveling exhibit at the Hermitage Museum, curated by Julie Sylvester, an HMF Advisory Board member, took place in 2006. Museum visitors could see paintings by this famous American artist who was of Dutch origin. More than 20 canvases by de Kooning (1904-1997) were presented, many of them coming from private collections, most of which have never been seen before.
Dutch-American painter Willem de Kooning was a first generation Abstract Expressionist. Starting as an “angry young man” in the 1930s, he is best known for his Women series-a subject he pursued from the beginning to the end of his career. In the 1970s he began to make sculptures. At a ripe old age, de Kooning’s furor made way for a quiet, almost conceptual art of painting that is nevertheless full of suspense. Heading in a new direction, his works became more drawing-like, with a preference for primary colors, eventually including pastel colors to the palette. Bridging the gap to Minimalism, he never abandoned gestural forms.
Cy Twombly’s gestures are some of the most beloved in 20th century art. The painter, graphic artist, sculptor and photographer is prized above all for the sweeping, scribbled marks that he makes with his drawing instruments. Though mostly indecipherable, at least on a literal level, Twombly’s colorful, dense gestures are compellingly articulate in their rhythm, line, allusion and mood. Deeply sophisticated and sensual, they follow in the footsteps of Western tradition while speaking resolutely in the hushed and tentative tones of the modern age, defying prevailing stylistic clichas and mediating between the old and new worlds.
This exceptional volume presents 50 years of drawings by the artist, most taken from his own personal collection.