Fascinating Altai. December 19-31, 2013

Nikulin Andrei Osipovich (1878-1945) The Katun.  The early 1910s Oil on canvas, 48,7х59
Nikulin Andrei Osipovich (1878-1945) The Katun. The early 1910s Oil on canvas, 48,7х59
Our Altai is inimitable and unique. Its grand forests and powerful rivers, boundless steppes and full lakes, golden grain fields and cyan necklaces of the Altai mountains have always attracted artists.

The first professional painter who glorified Altai was the disciple of Russian realistic landscaping school, I.I. Shishkin’s pupil, Russian Imperial Academy of Arts graduate Altaian G.I. Gurkin. In his work G.I. Gurkin always remained deeply connected to the life of Altai people, their history and culture.

 Landscape painting genre, the leading one in Gurkin’s heritage, was a means of expressing the artist’s world outlook fixed in the myths, stories, and legends of Altai people.

A.O. Nikulin was another painter who, like G.I. Gurkin, was at the origins of Altai professional art. A master educated in Europe, a graduate of Theatre Setting Department of baron Stieglitz’s Technical Drawing School in St. Petersburg and Rodolphe Julien’s Academy in Paris A.O. Nikulin won the fame of the first Siberian impressionist.

Altai as a magnet attracts artists. After the Revolution a whole pleiad of wonderful painters worked here. M.I. Kursin, Y.L. Korovai, A.N. Borisov, V.V. Karev, N.S. Shulpinov were among those who established the first art association in Altai in 1818 — AAS (Altai Artistic Society). They organized exhibitions, delivered lections, arranged debates, established and ran studios, and even opened an Art Museum in 1920. N.K. Rerikh visited Altai in the 1920s, A.D. Drevin and N.A. Udaltsova – at the beginning of the 1930s. A watercolourist P.I. Basmanov’s best paintings of the 1930s are devoted to Altai as well.

A new surge of activity is connected with the appearance of new painters who came into the art of Altai during the Great Patriotic War. During that period masters appear in Altai who were evacuated from the central parts of Russia. A.R. Eberling and D.F. Tsaplin are among them.

After the war and later young painters came to Altai all the time. The leading art universities and schools of the country organized open air for students here. The Union of Altai Artists gains creative power in these years as well. There is a certain succession to the art of the painters of the beginning of the 20th century in the works of the leading Altai masters. In their canvases the image of Altai is reflected as the image of the world full of harmony of the union between Man and Nature.

The exhibition Fascinating Altai is quite little – only 38 paintings, 4 graphic works, and 2 sculptures. Despite the fact that this exhibition is a chamber one, it amazingly simply and sincerely tells about Altai as an inimitable, unique, and inspiring land. Welcome to the exhibition Fascinating Altai to Mikhailovski castle!