Contadores e Cia
The Novecento Game. ‘Non-Soviet’ Soviet Art of 1920s – 1930s
Curators: Kristina Krasnyanskaya, Anastasia Dokuchaeva
Heritage Gallery, with support from the Italian Institute of Culture in Moscow, is holding an exhibition where paintings by key members of the Italian artistic movement of Novecento, such as Piero Marussig, Achille Funi, Felice Casorati, Mario Tozzi and Cesare Monti, will be presented for the first time in comparison to paintings, drawings, sculpture, porcelain and design works by Soviet artists of the same interwar period – Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Vladimir Favorsky, Tatyana Kuperwasser, Vladimir Kovalsky, Nadezhda Lermontova, Alexei Zernov, Maria Lomakina, Vladimir Lebedev, Dmitry Krapivnny and others. The exhibition will also include works by Russian émigré artists that served as a link between the Soviet Russia and Europe, namely Boris Grigoriev and Léopold Survage. A special section of the show is focusing on Soviet and Italian art editions of that period that reflect the aesthetics of Novecento. In total, the exhibition will showcase over 70 artworks.
The term Novecento literally means “the twentieth century” hereby reflecting the desire to be ultimately modern of the artists of the group and Margherita Sarfatti, a talented art critic and historian who united them. However, the idea of “modernity” itself had greatly changed since the avant-garde revolution of the late 1900s. Both Italian and Soviet artists presented at the exhibition, in spite of the great difference in their creative philosophy, shared the same reluctance to participate in formalized experiments of avant-garde and futurism. They worked towards building a new artistic language based on the confluence of modernist techniques and allusions to old-time European art, from antiquity to the Renaissance and icon painting. They attempted to introduce plastic and conceptual values typical for the “classic” art into modern, urbanistic art.
This exhibition is a daring experiment showing correlations between the art of Novecento movement, that supported Mussolini, and Soviet prewar art, that functioned within aesthetic categories similar to those of Novecento, i.e. merged modernism and European or rather Mediterranean classics. Both Soviet art and Novecento were products of totalitarian regimes, yet they avoided using obvious, straightforward propaganda symbolics. Nevertheless, just like any other neo-imperial style, works of artists from both countries display tendencies for classicism or ideals of the Renaissance, as well as an endeavor for establishing the new Grand Style. However, it is important, from today’s perspective, that both Soviet and Italian artists managed to capture more global sentiments of the century – a premonition of war and shattered ideological expectations. Apart from expressing their pursue of monumental, supra-individualistic art, works of these artists still reflect very humane and personal apprehension of the imminent tragedies, taking the form of escapism, immersion on the world of sublimated dreams, love of illusionism and even of surrealistic effects.
Today, one hundred years later, it becomes more and more obvious that in spite of the individual character of each artist’s creations and the appeal to national values, amazing parallels do exist between the works of Italian Novecento and Soviet artists, in which the zeitgeist manifested itself beyond national boundaries. Italian and Soviet artists often shared a similar destiny. The art of these people, who lived in different countries and worked in absolutely different conditions, was united by a common mindset, a common perception and manner to visualize their epoch.
The exhibition is held with support of the Italian Institute of Culture in Moscow
Participants: the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Galeyev Gallery, Kovcheg Gallery and the Margarita Rudomino All-Russia State Library of Foreign Literature.