F E B R U A R Y  26  -  M A R C H  8,  2013
olga 610 Remembering Olga Roytenberg. The Exhibition “Olga Roytenberg Galaxy: the Drive of Graphic Art”

“No one is irreplaceable here,” was a popular saying in our country a short while ago. All sorts of officials still use it every now and then. This truism underpinned the logic of official attitude to specialists and people in general in the Soviet Union. Yet, the deeper we go down into the history of culture and art (the field we’re primarily interested in), the more obvious is the fact that this dictum is at odds with reality.

Individuals are widely known to have influenced artists’ work and the history of art, the development of certain trends and schools of art, and the perpetuation of traditions and heritage. Although they are few and far between, such people have been around practically at all the times. They live and work by our side, but it is, somehow, the way of the world that, unfortunately, we only take notice of and appreciate them when they have already passed away.

A recent joint exhibition project of the G.O.S.T. gallery and the Nashe nasledie (Our Heritage) magazine exhibition hall commemorates Olga Osipovna Roytenberg (1923-2001), a remarkable Russian art historian, brilliant art critic and great connoisseur and lover of the cinema. One cannot overestimate the role of this woman in “exonerating” an entire generation of Russian artists of the 1920s and 1930s.

The twentieth century history was full of dramatic social and political collisions in the development of Russia, including revolutions, the Civil War, collectivization and starvation, Stalin’s labor camps, involvement in two world wars and, last but not least, unending struggle with dissent and formalism in art. All that, coupled with Russia’s irrational inability to preserve and take care of her cultural heritage, led to the annihilation of not only works of art, but many artists as well. Some opted to quietly keep to themselves in order not to “arouse the beast” and to save their own lives and those of their near and dear. Small wonder that under the circumstances many artists stayed outside the history of Russian art, and their works didn’t come to the attention of local art students. Olga Roytenberg’s book Neuzheli kto-to vspomnil, chto my byli…(Could Anyone Have Remembered that We Were…) that she worked on for nearly half her life focuses on precisely such unjustly forgotten or untimely gone artists. By reviving interest in their lives and works, giving them due respect and recognition and, as it were, building a monument of sorts to them, Olga Roytenberg in fact built her own monument, immortalizing her selfless loyalty to and love for these artists.

The exhibition “Olga Roytenberg Galaxy: the Drive of Graphic Art” has been staged to mark the 90th birth anniversary of Olga Roytenberg. On show are works by thirty artists from private collections.

 

 

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