In Love with Classical Art. Paintings and Drawings by Vladimir Weisberg from Russian Museums and Private Collections | Vladimir Weisberg Foundation

EXHIBITIONS

28.11.2014 — 01.03.2015

In Love with Classical Art. Paintings and Drawings by Vladimir Weisberg from Russian Museums and Private Collections

Location: In artibus Foundation

Organiser: In artibus Foundation

With:

  • State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
  • State Russian Museum, St Petersburg
  • Vologda Regional Picture Gallery, Vologda
  • Rostov Kremlin State Museum and Reserve, Rostov
  • Ivanovo Regional Art Museum, Ivanovo
  • Perm State Art Gallery, Perm
  • Radishchev Saratov State Art Museum, Saratov
  • Chuvash State Art Museum, Cheboksary

The exhibition included 88 works by Vladimir Weisberg: paintings, drawings and watercolours from all periods. The Moscow public saw most of them for the first time. One of the artist’s earliest paintings, Barrage Balloon at Twilight (1944, private collection), had never previously been exhibited. There was an unusual portrait, Woman in Front of a Mirror (1956, private collection) that was painted almost in Jack of Diamonds group’s pugach style and the textbook work Oranges in Black Paper on a Black Table (1961, private collection), which was last exhibited in 1962 in the Manege, when Khrushchev attacked the nonconformists. Several museum works were also exhibited for the first time. The exhibition organisers focused on the artist’s ‘white’ period of the 1970s and 1980s. By the early 1970s the genres in which he worked had finally formed and his iconography became recognisable: still lifes of white objects, portraits, nudes — the melting outlines of objects in a self-sufficient space, ‘cleaned’ of everything superfluous.

Over the last 30 years there have been 4 exhibitions in Moscow by the artist, not counting group and thematic shows. His bibliography includes museum catalogues, monographs and periodical publications. Such a quiet means of existence is, as a rule, typical of true masters, but that is no reason to avoid the theme.

In the context of Russian art, Weisberg stands alone. He does not fit within the frame of profane official art and had few points of contact with the work of his nonconformist colleagues. ‘The only thing I have in common with my contemporaries is the wall’, he said, during work on one of the exhibitions of the Moscow Branch of the Union of Artists. He was predominantly a colourist and was repulsed by art’s movement towards simplification and the sign, regardless of its load, whether semantic, symbolic or aesthetic.

The difficulty of perceiving Weisberg’s painting produced a series of simplifying, ‘signal’ definitions of the artist: ‘the Moscow metaphysic’, ‘the Russian Morandi’, ‘white on white’. These concern the external sides of his work and do not offer any explanation. The truth is closer: Vladimir Weisberg was an artist of tradition. His work is linked to the strict rules of classical painting; his only programme was the comprehension of its laws. In Weisberg’s case, the link with the art of older contemporaries — Giorgio Morandi, Alberto Giacometti or Ben Nicholson — was expressed in his demonstration of a broad painterly range based on the iconography of modern art. His famous ‘white’ was a consequence of a dizzying complexity of colour relationships. Weisberg was an artist by calling, temperament and way of life, and his only manifesto was the words ‘I study the palette’.

Where Weisberg’s painting is concerned, the information about the picture, be it a description or a reproduction, cannot give a proper impression of the object. It has to be seen. The In artibus space (by architect Eugene Asse) is designed to exhibit this type of work. The light room with a row of tall windows is an ideal environment for perception of painting, which, as we know, is created in daylight. At the opening there was a presentation of Elena Khlopina’s monograph In Love with Classical Art. V.G. Weisberg’s Paintings in the Tradition of Colourism. This book, which was published in 2009 on the initiative of In artibus Foundation, included Weisberg’s technical table ‘Classification of the main types of colourist perception’, an interview with the artist and a catalogue raisonné of his works.

The exhibition consultant was the Moscow artist Boris Kasatkin. His constant contact with Weisberg (from 1966 to 1985) and an unprecedentedly careful analysis of the artist’s work means that today Kasatkin, in the opinion of the curators of the exhibition, is a competent researcher of Weisberg’s painting system and the most reliable source of biographical information.

Exhibition curators: Elena Rudenko, Elena Khlopina
Project director: Ekaterina Kondranina
Consultant: Boris Kasatkin