Date at the Tretyakov

the Ivan Shishkin corner

This Saturday economist husband and I went to the Tretyakov Gallery. It was crowded – long lines of people buying tickets and checking their coats to spend the afternoon at the museum.

I love the Tretyakov because it’s a collection made up entirely of Russian art. I love walking through the thick-walled, wood-floor rooms surrounded by faces, landscapes and scenes all from the imagination and memory of Russian artists.  I also love that I get to do all of this with economist husband. We totally nerd out, and talk about all the paintings and what they make us think about. Every time we go, we are struck by something different.

The first room we went in was full of huge, floor-to-ceiling icons, with blocks of color -like tomato red, green, gold and black, and the Virgin Mary in somber burgandy. Economist husband didn’t really like it, because all the faces were serious – like you can’t be holy unless you’re in pain, which is one of the things we don’t like about the Russian Orthodox Church.

It was interesting, though, and beautiful, and I really liked this piece, which looks like angels around a table, their heads bent together and gold wing tips touching. Actually, though, it’s supposed to be a depiction of the Trinity – God three-in-one, which is sooo interesting, theologically. Not to mention the breathtaking light blue, gold, green, lavender colors and the background of chipped-paint cathedrals fading into the distance.

"Old Testament Trinity" by Andrey Rublev

I also really liked the room with all the Mikhail Nesterov paintings, which all look like they need color correction because they were painted through a blue lens or something. But they all had Russian Orthodox or folk-tale themes, and were breathtaking.
I liked this one – I think it’s of Mikhail’s wife, Natalia. But I like how you can see her imagination turning and all the leaves falling around her like confetti.

"A Portrait of Natasha Nesterova" by Mikhail Nesterov

I’ve been reading this wonderful book by a writer named Brenda Ueland lately. She talks about art and creativity and imagination. It’s made me think about the whole creative process in a really different way.

Before we went to the museum, I looked up a bunch of quotes from artists, and subjected economist husband to them in the car on the way there. Sadly, none of the painters I found quotes from were Russian, but I think their thoughts are relevant nonetheless:

The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.   -Marc Chagall

“I see drawings and pictures in the poorest of huts and the dirtiest of corners.” -Vincent Van Gogh (really like that one – how great to see beauty and art everywhere you look, and turn even the ugliest things into beauty)

“We take beautiful walks together. It is very beautiful here, if one only has an open and simple eye without any beams in it. But if one has that it is beautiful everywhere.” -Van Gogh

And speaking of beautiful walks, our favorite room was probably the Ivan Shishkin room, with all the gorgeous Russian nature paintings – like forests and wildflowers and birch trees.

We stopped in front of this one for a long time. It’s called “Rain in an Oak Forest” and you can practically smell the damp trees and feel the fresh air and oxygen pouring out of the frame. We can’t wait for spring…!

"Rain in an Oak Forest" by Ivan Shishkin

“Creativity takes courage.” -Henri Matisse

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1 Response to Date at the Tretyakov

  1. Pingback: Guardians of Russian Art Museums | Breakfast in Moscow

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