o c t o b e r   26, 2011

Life does move in funny ways. I have repeatedly observed events, meetings, thoughts and ideas simultaneously take place in different parts of the world.  This could, of course, be ascribed to some intrigues and underhand plotting, but somehow it all fits together.

Last week I attended with great interest the “Expressionismus & Expressionismi” exhibition at the Pinacothèque de Paris. Virtually a week earlier the Pushkin Museum department of private collections had opened an exhibition of works by Wassily Kandinsky and artists of “Der Blaue Reiter” group.  Naturally, I was tempted to compare my impressions of the two exhibitions and the principles guiding the choice of exhibits, as well as to assess the organization of the exhibition space.

%D0%A4%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BD%D1%86 %D0%9C%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%BA.%D0%A0%D0%BE%D0%B6%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%B5 %D0%BB%D0%BE%D1%88%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%B8. 1913 Expressionismus & Expressionismi

Franz Marc. The Birth of the Horse.1913

The first thing that leaps to the eye is how accents were laid in the choice and display of artworks.  To begin with, I personally liked both shows.  The Pushkin Museum exhibition focused above all on Wassily Kandinsky and the artists brought into his orbit.  As a matter of fact, the name of the exhibition was precisely “Wassily Kandinsky and ‘Der Blaue Reiter’ Group”.  The Russian artist Kandinsky was indeed a person of world stature who exercised tremendous influence not only on twentieth-century Russian and German art, but also on the development of world art as a whole.  That was why the show of his early works, which are now kept at the Munich City Gallery (Stadtische Galerie), became a sort of homecoming for Kandinsky.

The Paris Pinacothèque used a different approach to staging its exposition.  Instead of focusing on some obvious leader, the exhibition curators consider Expressionism itself through the prism of its realization in different genres, from simple still lifes, portraits or landscapes to works united by a common theme.  Thus, the exposition consists of fairly large sections named “Journeys”, “Nudes”, “Animals”, “Portraits” and so on.  The choice of exhibits was scrupulous and uncompromising – no chance works on show.  The choice was just as strict when it came to graphic sheets, as represented by wonderful pieces by the leading Expressionist artists, such as Emil Nolde, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Pechstein and Otto Mueller.  The exhibited works by Wassily Kandinsky, dating practically from the same period as his works displayed at the Pushkin Museum, look as valuable as the gems by other artists on show.

%D0%9A%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%BB %D0%A8%D0%BC%D0%B8%D0%B4%D1%82 %D0%A0%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%BB%D1%83%D1%84. %D0%90%D0%B2%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%BE%D1%80%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B5%D1%82 %D1%81 %D1%81%D0%B8%D0%B3%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B9. 1919 Expressionismus & Expressionismi

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff. Self-portrait with Cigar. 1919

Let me point out that I was strangely bored by the latest exhibition of works by Marianne von Werefkin at the Tretyakov Gallery.  Her works displayed in Paris produced the opposite impression: ornate, thought-provoking and highly expressive, they are eye-catching and captivating.

Fifteen museums of the world and private collections of different countries have contributed to the Pinacothèque exhibition, which will be on till March 11, 2012.  Anyone visiting Paris within the next few months has an excellent chance to brighten up one’s stay there with a view of wonderful art.