Since December, 2014, the Research Museum of the Art Academy has been hosting an exhibition which features art works created by the young artists during the postwar decade. The exhibition is unique: it offers visitors to not only familiarize themselves with the art pierces but also, in a way, to immerse themselves into the atmosphere of that period.
One may think of the Soviet era already by entering the second floor: the “trees lounge” with the Art Temple’s Doric columns rising high above the Museum’s halls. In order to imitate the size of a “common Soviet flat” and to reflect more precisely the modest conditions of living and art creating of the severe postwar period the Academy’s extremely spacious and beautiful exhibition halls in Saint-Petersburg have now been “shrunk”. In some halls immortal faces from the Antique and Renaissance art works are visible through the slits-“embrasures”. They are still examples of fine art and an eternal appeal for perfection.
The first picture visitors encounter is the robust and tragic “Vow of Baltic soldiers”. The painting is the final work of Andrey Mylnikov, while in university, who later became one of the most famous Soviet artists of the “vast canvas” genre.
It is important to mention that the artists who went through the war rarely tended to depict actual military acts, bloody struggles, and heroic deeds. Many of them seemed to convey themes of patriotism and heroism by turning to creating genre portraits of well-known valorous Soviet commanders. For example the exhibition features a portrait of the “Admiral Nahimov at the battle of Sinop” (1950) by Nikita Medovik or a portrait of “Stalin as the supreme commander” (1949) by Valery Pimenov. Both paintings were created in the studio of a great painting teacher Viktor Oreshnikov. In another studio, Alexey Pahomov’s one, Vladimir Vetrogonsky made the drawing “I.Stalin, S.Kirov and K.Voroshilov on a boat of the Northen fleet” (1951).
The exhibition features a graduate work by Raisa Zenkova “On a liberated soil” (1949; studio of Boris Ioganson). Artist’s genre approach and thoroughly painted small objects and compositional details can be related to Aleksander Laktionov’s style who in his oeuvre followed his teacher Isaak Brodsky’s call “to be closer to nature” in art.
The bright work by Alexey Sokolov the “Bearers of peace” (1951) is considered to be the highest point of the nostalgic optimism of the postwar years. What made this painting are true faith in the Right and only true feelings of light and joy in life. All the depicted participants of the celebration in the painting look cheerful. The feeling of emotion and unity the young artist, a student of the studio of V. Oreshnikov, also conveyed through energetic movement of the depicted people towards the viewer.
Among the exhibited paintings another art work should be mentioned. It is a fine work by the art academy’s graduate Petr Kiparisov “A song” (1955).
The exhibition features marvelous architectural projects created during the postwar era. These impressive monumental designs will impact the viewer with a feeling of a triumph. Among them one will find projects of residential areas by Arkady Teviyan and Ivan Strepetov (studios of A. Barutchev and S. Vasilkov; 1952) and ambitious projects by Yury Petrov and Tatiana Tolstova which, one may admit, would overshadow the existing historical Exchange building on Vasilievsky island.
However, we believe that the great value of this exhibition is not only the displayed art works from the Art Academy Museum’s collection. The original curators’ aim was to create an atmosphere from the previous epoch and to fill the halls with nostalgia and memories.