Matryoshki in Winter
October 19, 2018 – February 17, 2019
The mini-exhibition, Matryoshka in Winter, features a selection of nesting dolls from the Museum’s collection that celebrates Russian winter and the Christmas season. Some dolls in this exhibit tell the story of Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden who are said to bring joy and presents to children on New Year’s Eve. Other themes will include Santa Claus, nutcrackers, and the joyful activities of Russian winter.
The bright colors, distinctive shapes, and creative concepts of Russian nesting dolls have delighted children and adults alike for over a century. The toys are recognized around the world as the quintessential Russian souvenir. Contemporary independent matryoshka artists developed unique and creative styles, taking their work beyond traditional patterns and themes. Transcending the boundaries of conventional Matryoshka production, they elevated the medium from a craft to fine art.
Nesting dolls make an entertaining medium for storytelling and artists sometimes paint detailed pictures on each doll so that the story progresses as the matryoshka is opened, depicting elaborate stories from the daily lives of Russians to famous fairy tales.
The Romanov Liturgical Silver
October 19, 2018 – January 13, 2019
This extraordinary set of Orthodox silver liturgical implements were part of the Imperial dowry of Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna Romanova (1853-1920), daughter of the Russian Emperor Alexander II. She married Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh in 1874, and used this set in her private chapel in a British royal residence in London.
Recently completed attribution attested the set’s Russian Imperial and British Royal family provenance, uncovered rich history of its creation, and reestablished its historical significance as an example of Russian Neo-Byzantine style.
Commissioned by the Cabinet to the Russian Imperial Court, the set was created by one of the leading purveyors, the Saint Petersburg firm of Nicholls & Plincke known as Magazin Anglais. Based on designs by the Imperial Court architect, Professor David Grimm, it was recognized by its contemporaries as distinguished by the subtlety and elegance of its artistic execution.
Icons of the Hellenic World:
from the collection of Argie and Emmanuel Tiliakos
June 22 – October 21, 2018
Icons of the Hellenic World is the first major exhibition at the Museum of Russian Icons that focuses exclusively on Greek and Byzantine iconography. On view June 22 – October 21, 2018, the exhibit delves deeply into the links and the continuity of Greek art and culture from Late Antiquity, through Byzantium, to the present.
Largely comprised of icons created after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, Icons of the Hellenic World will also feature works from the Byzantine period (330AD-1453). The earliest object in the exhibition is a rare “Portrait of Man” from Fayum, Egypt, produced in the 1st or 2nd century CE, and painted in the encaustic technique, a wax painting method practiced in ancient Greece that probably originated in Egypt. Encaustic portraits are thought to be prototypes for painting the earliest Christian icons.
The exhibition features numerous icons and objects from the Cretan School as well as pieces from the Greek Islands of the Aegean Sea and the so-called Ionian School. This was the art produced in the Ionian Islands by Cretan artists who took refuge on these Venetian-held islands after the fall of Crete to the Ottoman Turks in 1667. The School of the Ionian Islands produced some famous and talented artists who provide a direct link from the art of Byzantium to modern Greece.
Icons of the Hellenic World comes from one of the finest collections of Greek Icons in the nation. A leading international expert in the field of Greek icons and an avid collector of Greek and Russian Icons ever since his university student days in the 1960’s, Athens-born Emmanuel Tiliakos was interested in icons long before they were considered to be “works of art” by most collectors. Collecting icons has been a labor of love, taking him on frequent travels to antique markets all over the US and many European capitals.
Click the catalog cover above to access a digital catalog of the exhibition.
The Art of Alexander Gassel
May 20, 2018 – January 6, 2019
The Museum will be exhibiting the contemporary paintings of Russian-American artist and designer Alexander Gassel, May 20, 2018 – January 6, 2019. Blending the avant-garde with traditional Russian iconography, combining ancient symbols with contemporary subjects, Gassel creates surrealist works that reflect his cultural heritage alongside his experience of life in America.
Gassel’s painting style is derived as much from icon painting as it is from his discovery of the early 20th Russian painters such as Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, and Kazimir Malevich. During the Soviet period, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and other stylistic European trends were suppressed. Gassel (1947), who was born and raised in Moscow, describes seeing the works of Chagall and Malevich surreptitiously in storage areas of Soviet museums. Additionally, it was forbidden in the Soviet Union to exhibit contemporary religious paintings.
In his work, Gassel uses ancient techniques employed in the creation of icon paintings. He paints with egg yolk tempera, making his color pigments by grinding natural stones and minerals, such as malachite, cinnabar, or lapis into powder, which he then mixes with egg yolk. The artist often applies gold or silver leaf on the paintings.