FROM FIREBIRD TO FISHERMAN: TWELVE FAIRY TALE PLATES
September 26, 2017 – January 28, 2018
This mini-exhibit showcases a series of twelve decorative plates designed and crafted by accomplished artists from Palekh, and Kholui, to Fedoskino. Each plate illustrates a different Russian fairytale. The myths and legends of Russia are provide a window into a fascinating and diverse culture. Generously donated by Robert Laroucque in 2017.
MIGRATION + MEMORY: JEWISH ARTISTS OF THE RUSSIAN AND SOVIET EMPIRES
October 12, 2017-January 28, 2018
This exhibition featured approximately 60 works drawn from the Vladimir and Vera Torchilin Collection that explore the creative responses as well as historical trajectories of Jewish artists born, trained, or active in the Russian as well as Soviet Empires in the twentieth century. Organized by Boston’s Ballets Russes Arts Initiative and presented by the Museum of Russian Icons, it is curated by BRAI’s Executive Director, Anna Winestein, and structured around the themes of migration and memory that are central to the Jewish experience in this period.
The opening of Migration & Memory coincides with the centenary of the October Revolution of 1917, which transformed the landscape of choices and options for Russian Jewry, including artists, in many positive ways while also bringing enormous displacement and violence. Nearly all the items on display date from the 20th century, primarily from the period between the start of World War I in 1914 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Highlights include works by Alexandre Altmann, Boris Anisfeld, Eugene Berman, Sonia Delaunay, Moshe Kogan, Solomon Gershov, Anatoly Kaplan, El Lissitzky, Oscar Rabin, Savely Sorine, Moses and Raphael Soyer, Eduard Steinberg, Nikolai Suetin, Alexander Tyshler, Solomon Yudovin, and Osip Zadkine. Creations of nearly 50 different artists: paintings, drawings, prints, posters, and illustrated books, as well as three-dimensional objects, will be on view. The works in the exhibition were not all created within the territory of Imperial Russia or the Soviet Union, but they carry within them a complex legacy, of both opportunity and suffering, cooperation and hatred, inclusion and alienation.
Vladimir and Vera Torchilin’s collection started with Vladimir’s parents who lived in Moscow and were friendly with several notable Soviet artists, including some who were Jewish. Vladimir began his collecting as a bibliophile, an interest that coincided with his love of writing poetry and prose—he is the author of numerous novels, volumes of short stories and essays. The Torchilins moved to the US in the early 1990s and after the fall of the Soviet Union were successful in bringing out a large portion of their families’ collection, to which they have continued to add voraciously. Their collection as a whole primarily focuses on Russian and Soviet art, not only by creators of Jewish heritage, but also includes works by European and American artists. They also continue to collect rare books, mostly in Russian.
ABOUT THE CURATOR AND COLLECTORS
Anna Winestein is an historian of art and theater, independent curator, and cultural entrepreneur. She is Executive Director and co-founder of the Ballets Russes Arts Initiative (www.ballets-russes.com), a Boston-area non-profit that follows in the tradition of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes by promoting international creative exchange in the fine and performing arts, especially with the post-Soviet region. She also consults collectors, dealers and museums, and previously served as Creative Director for the Hermitage Museum Foundation. Exhibitions Ms. Winestein has curated include The Golden Age of the Ballets Russes for Sotheby’s Galerie Charpentier in Paris, and The Magical Reality of Alexandre Benois at the Boston Public Library, for which she also wrote the catalogues. Co-editor and co-author of The Ballets Russes and the Art of Design (Random House, 2009), as well as Loyalties and Solidarities in Russian Society, History and Culture (University College London, 2013), Ms. Winestein has published in academic journals and contributed essays to numerous exhibition catalogues and joint volumes. Her research interests include Russian art 1850 to today, European modernism, 20th century dance and theater history, cultural exchange between Russia and Europe in late Imperial times, and the Russian emigration. Ms. Winestein has been a Cultural Envoy for the US State Department and is a former Fulbright Scholar. A Quadruple Terrier: BUA ’00, CAS ’04 (Art History), CFA ’04 (Painting), GRS ’05 (MA Economics). She is finishing a doctorate in Modern History at Oxford University; her dissertation examines social and professional networks among Russian artists in Paris 1870-1917. Ms. Winestein is an associate of the Davis Center at Harvard University. She has also organized a number of conferences, lectures and other events in collaboration with Boston University, including the Spirit of Diaghilev academic conference in 2009 and a staging of the Russian futurist classic, Victory Over the Sun in 2014.
Dr. Vladimir Torchilin is a leading biochemist, pharmacologist, and specialist in nanomedicine, author of 450 scientific papers, and holder of over 40 patents. He is currently University Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University and Director of its Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and Nanomedicine. Vera Torchilin worked in wealth management, finishing her career as a Second Vice President at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
FANTASTIC BEASTS IN ICONOGRAPHY
June 3 – September 24, 2017
Natural and unnatural creatures were the focus of this exhibition at the Museum of Russian Icons. Fantastic Beasts in Iconography will include 50 icons and artifacts that spotlight the origins, symbolism, stories, and myriad of representations of animals in icons. The family-friendly exhibit will include over 50 icons and artifacts along with six mounted dragon heads created by Worcester artist, Hilary Scott.
FROM THE VAULT: ICONS OF ETHIOPIA
This exhibit featured a mix of Ethiopian icons, silver hand crosses, and artifacts from the Museum’s collection dating from the 19th and 20th century. Many of the icons were purchased from a gallery in Berlin, Germany between 2011 and 2014 including a Mother of God fresco, from the late 18th century that had been removed from the wall and transferred to canvas.
PONDERING MARY: HER STORY THROUGH ICONS
March 11 – May 21, 2017
This exhibit explored Mary’s life as portrayed in icons; how her relationship with her Son has defined her; and how the Russian people have viewed her complex role in salvation.
TWO IMPERIAL ICONS
October 15, 2016–May 14, 2017
These two important Imperial Presentation icons by Faberge and Kurliukov, were created as gifts for the 1908 wedding of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna the Younger (1890-1958) to Prince Willem of Sweden, Duke of Sodermanland.
HOLY FOOLS TO WONDER WORKERS: SAINTS OF THE ORTHODOX FAITH
November 19, 2016–February 26, 2017
Holy Fools to Wonder Workers featured 30 icons from the Museum’s collection that are not regularly on view. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to explore different types of saints celebrated by the Orthodox Church, from Prophets of the Old Testament to the Monastics living in rural Russia. Popular saints such as Nicholas and George will be shown alongside those who are lesser known but equally fascinating figures. There is Simeon the Stylite, who lived for many years atop a pillar, and Saint Mary of Egypt, a repentant sinner who lived alone in the deserts of Egypt.
IN COMPANY WITH ANGELS: SEVEN REDISCOVERED TIFFANY WINDOWS
July 14 – October 16, 2016
“Angels Representing Seven Churches,” the central element of this exhibit, is a set of free-standing, eight-foot tall, windows created by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1902 at Tiffany Studios in New York City. Originally commissioned for a church in Cincinnati, the seven windows depict angels which are almost life-size, illustrating passages from the Bible’s Book of Revelation. Although they form a set, each angel, named according to their Biblical reference, has different characteristics—and a unique personality—depicted in glass through the artistry of Tiffany Studio.
TOYS, TRINKETS, AND TREASURES: THE STORY OF THE NESTING DOLL
February 11– June 26, 2016
Russian Matryoshka dolls, often painted to depict peasants, have become an icon of Russian culture. The bright colors, distinctive shapes, and the imaginative concepts have delighted generations of children and are thoroughly recognizable to young and old alike. The Museum of Russian Icons unveiled its newest addition, a collection of nesting dolls from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Japan and other countries. These dolls came to the Museum through the generosity of collector Pamela Kruskal who gifted 370 sets in the summer of 2015. The collection contains the story of the nesting doll which extends well beyond the well-known Russian dolls of the 20th century.
DISCOVERING ST. NICHOLAS
November 20, 2015–January 23, 2016
The traveling exhibit Discovering Santa Claus originated from the St. Nicholas Center in Holland, Michigan. The exhibition showcased a vast collection of art, icons, symbols, toys, statues and other treasures from around the world.
FEASTS: EARTHLY CELEBRATIONS OF HEAVENLY EVENTS
September 26–November 7, 2015
This exhibition showcased more than 30 rare icons depicting significant Russian Orthodox feast days, commemorating the annual cycle of holy days, the veneration of saints and the Church’s twelve major feast days.
BYZANTIUM TO RUSSIA: THE ORIGINS AND DEVELOPMENT OF RUSSIAN ICONS
Featuring icons from London’s British Museum
May 2– September 12, 2015
Byzantium to Russia was curated by Gordon B. Lankton, Dr. Raoul Smith and Kent dur Russell, and organized by the Museum of Russian Icons. A selection of 35 icons and 30 objects from the British Museum traced the stylistic development of sacred art from the center of Christian civilization to the introduction of Christianity to Russia. The show included icons as well as Byzantine cast metal objects, ivories and engraved gems. This is the first time that the British Museum, London, has lent St John the Baptist (Constantinople c. 1300) and the famous St George and the Dragon (known as the “Black George” Novgorod late 14th century).
THE VIBRANT ART AND STORIED HISTORY OF ETHIOPIAN ICONS
60 Icons & Artifacts from a Private European Collection
January 23–April 18, 2015
The Vibrant Art and Storied History of Ethiopian Icons illustrated the Christian traditions of this legendary East African nation. The exhibition featured 60 small-scale icons, triptychs, and illuminated manuscripts from the 16th century to the present. Several cast-brass processional crosses with intricate designs from the Museum’s own collection, as well as some small pendant crosses fundamental to sacred vestments, icons and a stone-carved triptych were also included.
SIBERIA IMAGINED AND REIMAGINED
September 13, 2014– January 10, 2015
From the everyday to the bizarre, 130 unique and powerful photos by Russian photographers. This exhibit brought photographs of Siberia by Russian photographers to the American public for the first time. Countless images of Siberia by non-Russian photographers have been published and those depictions have shaped perceptions around the world. Siberia Imagined and Reimagined offered an insider’s view.