Fechin, Gaspard, and Repin: Russian Painting 1889–1926
February 6 – April 3, 2016
An exhibition of six paintings from the Frye collections. Over one hundred and fifty years ago, on November 9, 1863, students protested at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. The Academy had urged its protégés to uphold the Western European classical tradition and refrain from innovation. Fourteen artists left the school and in 1870, they organized the Society for Traveling Art Exhibitions. As a result, the painters became known as the Peredvizhniki (the Itinerants or Wanderers). Their goal was to create a national and accessible art that reflected the everyday lives of the Russian people.
The Peredvizhniki shared neither a common artistic style nor subject matter. Their paintings displayed restrained naturalism, social commentary, psychological rendering, and heightened emotional states, all imbued with a high degree of individuality. Their subjects included poverty and imprisonment, the beauty and grandeur of the national landscape, portraits of cultural luminaries and anonymous masses, as well as Russian history and folklore.
In writing about the work of Ilya Repin (1844–1930), who joined the Peredvizhniki in 1878, a contemporary commentator noted that Repin had “dared to see and to put into his work that which is simple and true and which hundreds and thousands of people pass by without noticing.”
Although many Peredvizhniki dedicated their work to larger social and political questions of their day, a number were perceived as expressing a uniquely Russian cultural sensibility in their psychologically charged portraits and application of new painterly techniques.
Agitation and Propaganda: The Soviet Political Poster 1918–1929