The State Memorial and Natural Preserve "Museum-estate of Leo Tolstoy "Yasnaya Polyana"
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Exhibition “The Unknown Mashkov”

12October 7 – December 9, 2014
"Yasnaya Polyana" Gallery

Opening of the exhibition: October 7 at 16:00

You are welcome to the opening of the exhibition “The Unknown Mashkov.” You will see graphical works and paintings by Ilya Ivanovich Mashkov (1881 – 1944) from the collection of the Volgograd Fine Arts Museum named after the artist. 


Ilya Mashkov is now one of the most sought-after 20th-century Russian artists. He became famous as the leader of the “Jack of Diamonds” modernist art association. Right down to the present, his name is mainly associated with harsh provocative paintings of the 1910s created at the intersection of Cezannism, Cubism, and Fauvism, and conveying the unique spirit of Russian folklore and of the primitive. However, the master lived a long life and his art changed rapidly, reflecting changes in his perception of the world and, at the same time, transformations in art in general. He was a naïve artist, a modernist, a “classic of Soviet art,” and a “keeper of painting traditions.” 


Mashkov was not only a painter and one of the best colourists, but also a very strong and original practitioner of drawing. These aspects are very well demonstrated by the Volgograd Museum collection of Mashkov’s works, which is one of the major and most original collections of the artist’s works. This collection is the jewel of the museum. And it can show us the “uncanonical” Mashkov who is not known to a wide audience, and let us follow his creative evolution. The collection contains the artist’s works from the earliest to the latest periods of his career, with the majority of it consisting of graphic works. 


“The Unknown Mashkov” exhibition includes some of the most rarely exhibited works from the Volgograd Museum collection. Visitors to the exhibition will see 26 graphic works done from 1900 to the 1940s, and 4 paintings from the 1930s-1940s. The graphic part of the project includes nude drawings and portraits. Very vividly, and probably more clearly than paintings, they captured “the face of the time,” the scale of changes in our art, and the artist’s own esthetic conception: his understanding of beauty and his special intonation. During his entire creative life, referring to different graphical languages and systems, Mashkov was building his own stable version of the world – a powerful, generous, and healthy one. It was also reflected in his paintings that will be displayed at the exhibition. His still lifes of the “Abramtsevo” series are, no doubt, one of the peaks of the artist’s work. From the point of view of painting, they show the most elegant and complex solutions that bring their author into line with the best masters of the genre. 

4._-_____.1943Graphic and painted portraits of the “war series” of 1941 – 1943, which captured the dramatic spirit of that time, refer us to the last period of the artist’s work. Mashkov’s later works had a distant echo of the initial “jack-of-diamonds” conception and were created in dialogue with the classical tradition. His own logic of development, a special keenness of perception of the world, and external factors led him to the longing to capture life in all its great diversity of aspects and nuances by means of painting, where vibrations of colour are a metaphor for the moving canvas of life. Still not well enough studied and underestimated, Mashkov’s later works, as well as his graphical heritage, are independent and significant treasures of art. They not only reveal new facets of the well-known master’s image, but also give us a chance to see the epoch through his eyes.  

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