Garden all around: art curator guide to the new exhibition at the Tsaritsyno Museum Reserve

June 4

Gardens and parks are one of the most significant themes in the Silver Age art the new exhibition at Tsaritsyno Museum Reserve is about. It will run until 25 August, with about 400 exhibits from 20 museums and private collections displayed. This is the second project launched by the art curator Boris Sokolov in Tsaritsyno Museum Reserve.

Read more about the exhibition in a collaborative article by and the Mosgortur Agency.

Garden as a source of inspiration

Poets, writers, artists and architects of the Silver Age were fascinated by gardens. In their works, they depicted these green areas as special, mysterious and even mystical places.

Mikhail Vrubel’s 'Lilac' (1900), Viktor Borisov-Musatov’s 'Ghosts' (1903), Pavel Kuznetsov’s 'Blue Fountain' (1905), Nikolai Sapunov’s 'Blue Hydrangeas' (1907) speak for it. Vasily Polenov, Alexandre Benois, Konstantin Somov, Nikolai Milioti and other artists were also inspired by gardens.

Milioti. Sappho. From V. Dudakov's collection. 1929

It was the time when the English philosopher and sociologist Ebenezer Howard created his most famous work 'Garden Cities of To-morrow', where he described a utopian city with people living in harmony with nature (but continuing to develop industry). He believed that if people lived in such garden cities, there would be no need for revolutions.

Exhibition concept

Boris Sokolov had the idea to arrange this exhibition yet 25 years ago, after visiting an abandoned Crimean estate Novy Kuchuk-Koi. It was built in 1905 for a philanthropist Yakov Zhukovsky, Mikhail Vrubel's relative. Alexander Matveev created sculptures for the estate park, Pavel Kuznetsov worked on its majolica panels and mosaics, and Pyotr Utkin depicted park's landscapes on his canvases.

Pyotr Utkin. Crimea. Novy Kuchuk-Koi. 1913

Boris Sokolov knew that all the works of art dedicated to the building and the park had been stored in state museums and private collections. He decided to bring them all together in one place — at one exhibition. It resulted in the 'Gardens of Silver Age' project.

A series of exhibitions about the gardens have been held in Tsaritsyno since 2017, with the first exhibition dedicated to landscape parks. New exhibition is especially attractive, as it displays works of different types of art. In addition to paintings, it boasts embroideries, vases, posters, paper fans and sculptures, as well as archival documents.

Artefacts to view

Exhibits for the display have been provided by the Tretyakov Gallery, the Peterhof Museum Reserve, the Russian Museum, the Historical Museum, the Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, the Brodsky Apartment Museum, theatre and applied arts museums.

The exhibition is divided into themed halls. 'Gardens of Memory' hall displays 'Moonlight' by Stanislav Zhukovsky, 'Grandmother's Dress' by Elsa Baklund, landscapes by Valentin Serov and Fyodor Vasilyev, Alexandre Benois's graphic works and paintings.

A still life painted by Nikolai Sapunov in 1912 covers the whole wall in the 'Gardens of Dreams' hall.  You may also view here sketches by Victor Borisov-Musatov. 'Gardens of Symbols' hall features Mikhail Vrubel's works, and the 'Stone Garden' invites to view architect Fyodor Schechtel's designs and a slide-film about plant decor in architecture. Boris Sokolov took these pictures about 20 years ago in Saratov, Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities.

Victor Borisov-Musatov. Window. 1886. State Tretyakov Gallery

Nana Abdrashitova has done a comprehensive work specially for 'Teremok' (Tower House) hall.  to survived photographs, she has recreated  the exemplary interior, invented in 1903 by the set designer and decorator Alexander Golovin.

The exhibition has also a theatre hall with scenery design for the garden ballet Armida's Pavilion staged by Mariinsky Theatre (1907). Alexandre Benois wrote a libretto for the performance, he was engaged in its scenography as well.

There is a separate hall for the Novy Kuchuk-Koi estate showing its designs, paintings, fragments of mosaics and damaged sculptures.

All exhibits have descriptions for visitors to find all the necessary information on each of them. You may also take advantage of a free audio guide.


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