Grigory Nesterov

Member of painters union
Member of internacional painters guild
Laader of painters association "Artel"
1999 - medal of arts services; (Minsk)
2002 - put in the encyclopedia "2000 outstanding Europeans of XXI century"; (England)

The texts of Grigory Nesterov:
The book «Hours of mankind» by Gregory Nesterov.
"Conceptual exposition of my life I and conceptualism"
"Sentimental travelling from Minsk to Paris"
«Lessons of art»
 One hungred years without Victor Musatov

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To pass to works

Museums:

  • 1997 - “The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum (USA, New Brunswick. New Jersey)
  • 2008 -  “Museum of Contemporary Russian Art” (USA, Jersey City)
  • 2004 -  “The Belarusian National Museum of Arts” (Minsk)
  • 1999 -  “the Museum of Modern Fine Arts” (Minsk)
  • ***
  • 2005 - Auction “Chrisite’s” (London)
  • 2005 - exhibition in “Pierre Karden's Center” (Paris)
  • 2000 - gallery “Zepter International”
  • 2003 - gallery “Manege” (Moscow)
  • 1991-1995 - Exhibitions in “the Central House of Artist” (Moscow)
  • 2005 - gallery “Stella International” (Paris)
  • 2003 - “Gallery De Stijkamer”(Zandvoort, Holland)
  • 2000 - Gallery “Schaek und Wildbolz” (Switzerland)
  • 1990 - Birkenhoff Gallery (Germany)
  • 1990 - Barcelona International Art Forum (Spain)
  • ***
  • 1999 - medal for services in art (Minsk)
  • 2002 - included in encyclopedia “2000 outstanding Europeans of the 21st century” (England)
  • 2001 - included in the worldwide exhibition catalogue (Holland)
  • 2003 - album “The Best Art of Belarus”
  • 1984 - success with the Minsk public of the First Personal Exhibition (the House of Writers)
  • Phenomenal success of Moscow Exhibition in 1991 – a queue for about one hour during a week
  • Moscow media – “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, “Podmoscownye Izvestiya”, “Sobesednik”, “Kuranty”, “Moskovski Komsomoletz”, “Moskovskaya Pravda”, “The Moscow Times”

The book «Hours of mankind» by Gregory Nesterov

The author offers a new periodicity of changes in the world culture that has never been presented before. Only chronologically dated period of the human history – the last five thousand years – is being considered.

The work started in 1971. As a basis the author uses a simple idea – all changes of human moods are not chaotic, and have naturally determined character. They are imprinted in traces of any human activity, including works of culture and art.

The huge amount of material has been used and compressed: painting, music, architecture, poetry and literature; statements of art workers, public figures and philosophers. All this is concentrated and compressed into the possible minimal size.

In a simple form accessible not only for experts, but also for general public, laws, waves and cycles of changes of human moods in the past are presented. But this material is easily enough extended into the future and allows predicting character of changes in a society expecting mankind within thousands on coming years.

This book will be necessary and interesting to all layers of a society, to people of all trades, not only art workers, but also scientists, physicians, businessmen, military men and politicians.

Gregory Nesterov

August 12, 2008

Conceptual exposition of my life  I and conceptualism

We all float in the same stream where every particle of dust represents infinity in itself… Who am I? What am I for? Why? There is no answer.

It was during my visit to the exhibitions in Malaya Gruzinskaya in Moscow that I heard the term conceptualism for the first time.

By 1961-1962, when the term conceptualism became а buzz word, I was an “extremely” adult man - 22 years old with some experience in life and creative work.

Thoroughly studying philosophy and visiting the National library I became closer to a small group of peers. We would actively discuss and digest the information I studied.

It was right after the Party Congress in 1956. A stagnant slough of the Minsk life had been enlightened with a dazzling light! It seemed that we had a brilliant prospect ahead.

Alas, all that did not last very long, in 1962 during my next trip to Moscow I paid attention to a group of artists exhibited at “Manege” and marked their  names in my record book .The next day all those names without exceptions were mentioned in Khrushchev’s  devastating report, - that was the end of hopes.

Those years were the season of the first “happenings”! (But back then they were called differently). I and my friend, an abandoned poet and a playboy, Garik Shabanov (now lives in Israel) would defiantly walk a turtle along the central avenue of the city… We would rush along the corridors of the National Library back-to-front, one of my shoes being red and another – black; and my sweater was inside out. We would imitate statues on pedestals...In the picture taken from the balcony of the National Library next to the Central Committee building you see our bodies depicting a bad word...

Public gloom was getting more intense; in 1964 Khrushchev's government was replaced by Brezhnev's team.

From1968 till the mid 70s it was the time of dashing from one extreme to another – trying to escape from the realty to a dream or to hysterics of rebellion. There was a search for the way out.

…Crisis – as if you were running fast and then suddenly bumped against a heavy wall; mist in your head, you open your eyes – there is silence –a wall, and there is a thin crack in it, there is a blade of grass by your side, an ant is crawling along – still life – acceptance of realty . There is a feeling of unproductiveness, hatred, rejection, rebellion… Seeing oneself as an object... feelings, sensitivity.

What I found the most appealing about conceptualism that is in its indistinct shape, its capability to include lots of thing».

A very successful slogan – “Art after philosophy”, "The end of philosophy” enables to approach a subject under consideration without prejudice, without subjectivism-here are the right words which put an object, objectivism under the spotlight.

Scraps of a story, emptiness, nothing, pieces of nature or objects created by man, any reality you have in view would emerge in turns to make up a picture as an object, as an installation.

It is not by chance that hyperrealism comes up at about the same time - this is striving for the objective -objectivity.

Reality perceived not by intellect, but by senses!

I make the next step – I touch this something, this reality with a brush. A banal reality – still life, portrait, auto portrait, landscape – as an installation. An image emerges, as a sign of something standing behind it. It’s a try to grasp it.

You can not explain it - you can only feel it - a picture is not so important for me but that something appearing in the air near it.

Setting to work I do not use logic, it can be used afterwards…I do not invent anything, I do not design anything, this is an act of acceptance.

I surround a spectator with my paintings like with small hunting flags. I and my spectator are as a whole… It is an act of accepting reality – an act of love. 

Feeling itself, emotion that’s what becomes the subject of installation for me.

And only feeing and emotion alone that can thrill a spectator… not an appeal to logic…

I do not give names to my works – they have separate numbers – how could you name this something?! In every work I try to touch the same – this something.

My works remind small batteries, attached together in a special way; they generate an electric current of high voltage…

In every new hall, at every new moment the exposition is changing.

You can look at my works with lateral sight; you just need to be nearby… 

Gregory Nesterov

Minsk, Belarus

SENTIMENTAL TRAVELLING FROM MINSK TO PARIS

Paris - this concept is international and universal. It is a symbol and a reality, unique and specific, strongly differing from everything that I saw up to now… It’s easier to get to Paris by plane, but it’s more memorial and romantic - by bus, packed with people, the majority of which have never been there. Here we are leaving behind Minsk, Belarus, then Poland, Germany… Aura becomes thicker, it’s getting hard to breathe, the passengers piled off the bus at the stops to smoke and to get their feet to solid ground. The stops helped to give reality to our journey… and here is France… it’s getting dark… We came to Paris at night; it is completely different from what we see on picture postcards and in movies.  Enormous, mysteriously illuminated blocks, unfamiliar streets, aqueducts, tunnels… flashing of lights and shadows…

In the afternoon Paris looks different… Time and space are pressed in pictures, stone and faces of people. Delicate, illusive Parisian charm. Greatness and grace, feeling of tact and measure. 20th century, with its aggression, fanaticism and immoderation, with its preoccupation with technical aspects and extreme formalism, revolt and denying of all previous world culture – it is organically and harmoniously fused into architecture and in itself became history of that culture which it denied… Even such radical forms as Eiffel Tower, Pompidou's center and a glass pyramid by the Louvre, became the same organic and habitual part of Paris, as the Elysee fields and Notre-Dame.     

Our first visit is to Pompidou's Center, or National Museum of the Modern art. The building is stylized as a factory or an oil refinery – as if rationalism and functionalism turns out to be a baroque heap of structures and pipes.

The big exhibition is called «Big Bang » (the big explosion). The topic is: «Destruction and creation in the art of 20th century». For the first time the material is disposed not chronologically, but grouped according to themes. The style gave the exposition a relative integrity and dramatic character (as opposed to a similar collection in Stedlik museum in Amsterdam, which seemed more amorphous to me.) 

When you think about the 20th century coming to a close, such question as «And what it was? » arises more persistently. Certainly, here, in the museum, not all art of the last century is presented, but here, in opinion of organizers, we find the sharpest and the most characteristic samples of art. It was really the big explosion, and the big destruction… destruction of the reality, that preceded the 20th century. But even explosion does not only destroy, but also creates. What has been created? A new reality! The Reality, in which we live, and also the new people who live nearby… We have found ourselves in the new, unfamiliar, not investigated world. And if the 20th century was at war with reality and the main thing was concept of efficiency, then the 21st century will have to accept this realit,y and concepts of truth and fidelity will become the leading ones…  

Art of the 20th century closed its eyes and lived in the crazy, fantastic and fabricated world; to shock, to draw attention at any cost: by non-traditional behavior, or representing a deformed reality, grotesquely distorted and mocked at…

Cyclic transitions from aggressive fury of destruction to a deep depressive melancholy.But let me get back to my trip to Paris…It sounds strange enough, but I was strongly impressed by Montmartre. It was a bright, clear December day. We were ascending the real mountain. Fantastic sight of the city… Mentally I went back hundred years ago… This place was a suburb. Small side streets, cozy cheap cafes… Bohemia from all over the world… Sensation of constant bliss… Wonderful, cheap French wine and cheese. Beauty and greatness of the nature… The world is still whole with an air of concord, amicable and magnanimous … But in every soul there is a desire to pinch off, bite off, tear off from this whole a part, to divide and to take into possession this unique and indivisible world, not suspecting, that by these actions they destroy it… And, nevertheless, this city, which belongs to time, to the French and to all mankind, is still safe and sound, and from here, from Montmartre, it is amazingly beautiful…

Time unites and puts in harmony styles and eras; therefore for me the experiment of cleaning and modernizing of Notre Dame seemed not to be successful. But the resonant space inside the cathedral atones for everything; on each wall inside there are enormous, dusty, first class masterpieces of the painting which are no less outstanding than pictures of the Louvre …

And then there is the beauty of Louvre! It is within the enormous, majestic palace of French kings that infinite treasures that portray the spirit of man are preserved!

It is impossible to examine everything in one visit; the only thing that helped me was that I had seen a lot of these works in numerous editions…I am running fast through the stored history of human culture, staying for a short while in some places of different times and different geographical spaces… Special interest to antiquity – integrity of the world, that for the first time appeared to human mind…

An amazing, unique variety of human experience… Egypt, Babylon, Sumerians, Chaldeans, Greeks, ancient Rome… Europe of the Middle Ages and renaissance, Europe up to the 20th century…The French painting of the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries attracts my attention – David, Jerico, Delacroix, Engr… I usually spend a long time in front of Rembrandt's pictures, but this time I accepted them more calmly… To my surprise my attention was absorbed for a long while by marvelous collection of Leonardo da Vinci. The feeling of mystery and depth… Copies do not reproduce the full scale of his works.

I leave the Louvre, taking with me so many images of infinite treasure of world culture. A lot of people must feel as I did, feeling immeasurably enriched and certainly the Louvre doesn’t become poorer for the effort...

… And this is d’Orse museum – a huge collection of impressionists – they seem a little bit dull and blackened… but late Claude Monet is magnificent and bright; and Van Gogh's postimpressionism is absolutely shining!

I am glad that I didn’t save my Euros and bought a collection of Russian painting at this place. I am able to view it through the eyes of the French – what we don’t understand at home, don’t appreciate… here looks effectively, unique, special…  

The long queue at Klimt’s exhibition made it impossible to enter without giving up half a day to stand in line.  But I was not discouraged.  There are many private galleries in Paris (more than two thousand) scattered throughout the city.  Besides there are fascinating small shops and little cafes, so much to see! Today's art is represented here – a general impression: predominance of decorative and aesthetic approaches, relishing of texture and virtuosities of touch; sometimes thin harmonies, sometimes vulgar, loud color… sometimes shocking.

Each gallery is oriented to its own spectator and buyer. The majority of them are directed toward an average one. Some of them – toward rich ones. Toward a rich vulgar buyer and a rich one with the claim for taste… As always it is difficult to find serious, deep art, there is not enough of it; it is difficult to break through.  

Several days are not enough to get to study even a part of the galleries. And the galleries are only able to scratch the surface of the Parisian and the world art… … The art of the rest of the world is also represented here, sometimes including the works of Belarusian artists.  

And now, not in a little place, but in Pierre Karden's Center, in the heart of Paris, the exhibition of painting of our Belarusian artists was given. The master of the Belarus painting Boris Zaborov honored the exhibition with his presence, to great delight of artists. The exposition can be praised and criticized for the same features. For example, to praise for the breadth of scope, for lots of styles and artists presented. And it could be criticized for the fact that the atmosphere of the exhibit did not display congeniality among the artists.

There is a dream that we could have more exhibitions with wide and narrower coverage, with the state investments and with possibly sponsor s' support. In fact culture, even more than sport, makes nations closer to each other, ennobles them… If such actions are not formal, if there is soul invested in them, the money spent can be repaid with the time due to the increasing value of pictures. Trust, understanding and friendship which come along can scarcely be overestimated…

Certainly, this time in Paris we saw much more, than we showed, and more gained, than gave…

But let’s not show false modesty and pretend to be poorer than we are – in Minsk we have a wonderful collection of painting in the National Art Museum. We have multiple and quite strong school of modern painting, which is still not very well studied and known. The Belarusian painting had powerful, revolutionizing influence on the world. Let’s recollect the universally recognized geniuses of the 20th century – Shagal and Malevich. And Sutin? And our remarkable contemporaries – Tselkov and Zaborov, working abroad, but being our national pride and conscience?

Glory of the Belarusian art is also money, and money should bring interest … We do not use it. It is not rational …

Do we need cultural self-isolation?..

How shall we evaluate our cultural originality not having compared ourselves with the world?  

The exhibition took place with visa support of the French embassy and the help of the Union of Artists of Belarus, and the main thing -  due to the efforts and initiative of the ambassador of Belarus in France Shikh Victor Adamovich and his charming spouse Liliya Vasil’yevna.

Gregory Nesterov  

January 20, 2006

LESSONS of ART

WHAT FOR DO WE NEED THE WORLD ART? BELARUSSIAN "SILVER AGE"?
...TIRED of SEARCHING THE CHERISHED...
"ART FOR ART"

150 years have passed from Michael Vrubel’s birth and soon it will be 100 years since the date of his death. Through Vrubel, as well as through Borisov-Musatov we can better understand the last 20th century and can try to define ourselves as belonging to this time… Certainly, every century is rich with events which are often mutually opposite and we can affirm any truths about them at our will. But, nevertheless, some facts prevail, there are laws, there is the main and the minor…

There is a question: What for do we need Vrubel and art of the Silver Age here, in Belarus? What for do we need the world art? How are they related to us? In fact right here, on the territory of Belarus, we had a lot of our own remarkable things… Why spend efforts, time and attention?


This is an approximate way of thinking of utilitarians of different kinds and sometimes this point of view prevails. But very soon it becomes clear, that it results in a dead end.  Concentration on oneself leads to stagnation, national egoism and immorality, which corrupts, corrodes soul of the nation. The result is obvious…

The situation will not change until we are not conscious of ourselves as the world power in a sense that we belong to the world and the world belongs to us… In fact Russian Silver Age is also Belarusssian, – we used to live in one integrated cultural space, that was also the world movement – «Аr nuvo» in France, «Jugendstil» in Germany, «Secession» in Austria, « Art nouveau», or « New style » in Russia.

In 1856, in a remote Siberian town Omsk, in the family of a military lawyer, a silent, concentrated boy was born. He is the one who subsequently made revolution in painting.

 

 

People of the 19th century were characterized by such features as integrity and depth of perception, high culture and nobleness, concepts of duty, honor and dignity, deep faith in God, independence and personal opinion, emotional and perceptional character of their attitude to reality…

Vrubel is spoken of as "delicate", "educated"; «… unusually mild and kind, just touching … ». He wrote to his sister: «…I can work only with pure conscience… ». Surikov’s words about him: «…the artist of big internal power… ». Vrubel said about himself: « …all my being is immersed in art… any real work demands devotion and fanaticism for some time…»

Vrubel's Art, as well as all art of the 19th century, that was the forerunner of the 20th century, was the art of an integral personality, and not of a crowd. It was carrying ideas of good. It was deeply aristocratic and freedom-loving art, coming from heart, not from head. At the age of 20 he puts forward the thesis «art for art», directed against defenders of «art utilization ».

 

 

 

 

He was only 17yo when he said about the milieu: «… slumber, food and apathetic, sleepy inactivity… dull miserable life … stagnation; a bog with its nasty miasma… generates lots of illnesses of a society…» « … we, who are in the world of art, we wish to find the real bread for the society … » He is busy with « …studying reality as a form from morning till night… » He condemns the Itinerants: «the form, the main substance of plastic art is neglected… » He wrote from Venice about his motherland «… What a beauty we have! …at the head of this beauty there is form – the form which is created by nature forever… it is extremely dear, because it is the bearer of soul… ». « …It is searching for the cherished… »

The 20th century has chosen the way of form, and form for the sake of form. Soul has been rejected as superfluous. The center of searching has moved from heart to the area of head. Abstracting took place practically from everything what the 19th century was busy with. Feelings, sentimentality, heart as the means of comprehension of the whole, have been rejected. In fact it is much easier to deal with parts than with intolerable burden of the whole… The 20th century is a century of crowds, parties, and a century of a depersonalized man, operating according to instructions, rules, directions, and slogans. People don’t have their own opinions, and easily turn to the direction stated.

 

 

Deprived of God, of the whole and their own morals, people are doomed to degeneration, but who and what were those leading them up till now? They were very likely inspired by positive ideas developed by rare talents, individuals which gave up their lives for these ideas in the 19th century.

Vrubel's life turned out to be between millstones of the two centuries… As an artist he begins with the image of Christ and God’s Mother, tries to put all energy and his soul into these great images, but in parallel there comes the image of rebellious Demon, inspired by Lermontov. Here is the beginning of that tragic discord with himself, with those immutable eternal laws of the divine whole, which abide both in the world and in a person’s soul…

Being torn apart by contradictions, the artist tries to free himself from the blame in "decadence": «… wings of the artist …the native ground and life …», he hears «…that intimate national note, which… is so desirable to be caught on a canvas and in an ornament… music of a balanced person… » He paints such masterpieces, as «Sir", "By the night", "the Lilac”.

 

 

He tries to convey depth of the world or as he said about his picture «the Lilac"-"to show the soul of a lilac». He is carried away by the magic, epic, musical and folklore side of life. He paints stage sceneries for Rimski-Korsakov’s operas on themes of Russian bylinas and fairy tales. Pictures «Sea tsarevna», «Magicians’ farewell to the sea tsar», «Tsarevna - swan »; a panel «Mikula Selyaninovich» and «Bogatyr (a strong man) ». He creates a series of sculptures: “Sadko”, “Sea tsar ", "Berendei”, "Spring », etc.

«…Being tired of searching for the treasured… he is looking for things in art purely and stylishly beautiful …», he designs and paints fireplaces, balalaikas, etc.

He takes part in exhibitions of Viennese «Secession», receives a gold medal at the World's fair in Paris.

It is the success that does not please him, the artist is very sick…

Fine but also rough, dramatic, contradictory life of Michael Vrubel comes to an end. It is impossible to listen to the story of his life without pain.

 

 

He was not alone, through his figure it is possible to descry the ambiguity and complexity of the 19th century, in which the acceptance of depth and beauty of the world was combined along with a constant, unceasing struggle against imperfection in the world and himself, with real and imaginary imperfection… Let’s recollect Byron and Lermontov, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky, Rimbaud.

Opposition between the world and man, Christ and Demon, conduced to splitting the world… One of the ways to get rid of the intolerable pain arising because of that was forsaking the reality for a dream, for a fairy tale, ornamental world. But only by leaving t the world he was able to get away from pain

The 20th century demands to leave behind the anxiety, easiness in problem-solving. It abstracts away from reality, from depth, it is released from burdens of life, from everything that binds, from doubts and hesitations… And, in this sense Vrubel and this century are going different ways. He gives the century concept of decorative effect and form, concept of "pure art". But his form was not for the sake of the form, it concealed depth, pain, joy and mystery of the world, and art was a means of expressing feelings...

 

 

Public moods are wavy. The 20th century has ended or is coming to an end… the ideas that are at the basis of its inertial movement, are fulfilled.

In order to find new ideas and new ways, the mankind again needs as in the 19th century, intelligent, talented, noble individuals, capable to lead us out of the deadlock…

Gregory Nesterov

February 2, 2006.

 

 

ONE HUNDRED YEARS WITHOUT VICTOR MUSATOV

In 1905 the time of peace and evolutional development in Russia was over. The country and the world entered a long period of bloody struggle, intolerance and world wars.

Wonderful and tragic life of the artist came to an end after he turned 34. Four years before that he wrote: «I should burn down quickly, and in some years I will not be here any more».

«There are discords around me and I cannot hide myself from them… pain in my heart is growing … the moonlight becomes dim because of my tears. Every corner of the garden, every May day and evening keep telling me over and over again that I am superfluous here… as before I try to live a solitary life and to live by art only».

The remarkable artist of Russian Silver age Victor Elpidiforovich Borisov-Musatov was born in 1870 in the remote place of Russia, in Saratov. In his childhood the «concentrated little philosopher » damaged his backbone during a game, and as a result he remained undersized and physically unhealthy, and this fact in many respects predetermined his life, which he completely devoted to art.

«Do you know what the real happiness of a man is? I have found this happiness. It is in work. All the rest is meaningless. The greatest happiness of man is the happiness that creativity gives in all its varieties.

Musatov belonged to the 19th century that started as far back as in «The Lake School». In expressing feelings it was a romantic, aristocratic and noble age. It was characterized by contemplation, aestheticism and the feeling of truth, deep faith in integrity and harmony of the world.

The major feature of the 19th century was its «reactionary character» in positive sense of the word.  It meant response to the 18th century - rational, dogmatic, dry, and, in some sense, the heartless «century of action».



In his first picture “Window” which the artist painted at the age of 16 and which was not adequately valued but was criticized by almost all art historians, we see the world accepted with love and trust, the world that is harmonious, beautiful and mysterious.

Plenty of time during his short life he devoted to studies. In Saratov his teacher was Konovalov, and then he studied at the Moscow Art School of painting, sculpture and architecture, from 1891 – in Chistyakov’s studio at the Petersburg Arts Academy.

In his letter to Chistyakov he writes: «You made me look at art as the most important work, the work demanding the most serious and ethical attitude and the greatest sacrifices».

Musatov meets Ge, sometimes visits Tolstoi. He is on friendly terms with Igor Grabar who said about him: “He was a touching, nice and warm-hearted person. We all loved him and tried to show him much attention…”

His homeland Saratov, hills on the Volga banks,  beautiful countryside have certainly given the main impulse to his creative work …; but Famusov’s phrase : «…back to the village, to my aunt, to the back of beyond, to Saratov … » was in his mind. As Benua said: «Instinctively we tried to get away from backwardness of the Russian art life, to get rid of our provincialism and to join the cultural West, nothing more than art searching. » Grabar’s words: «Longing for art culture … »

From1895 till 1898 Musatov had classes at F.Kormon’s studio in Paris where a lot of well-known artists studied before, including Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh. There was an eventful art life, numerous galleries, shows, the Louvre …

He writes from Paris: «Every morning … I spend 2 sou to buy lilies of the valley and I keep them in my pocket. Their smell reminds me … a picture of the village idyll.»

After finishing this study he had only seven years left for creative work and life…

He is very active in his work, paints sketches and pictures and is engaged in organizational activity – «In fact, after all, even if you rail at Russia, it is our place to live in. To live, that is to struggle against backwardness. »

« … Here in Russia revival of Russian art has begun. The real revival and it cannot be stopped by any lack of culture in our society… »

Chekhov, Gorki, Shalyapin, Vrubel, Levitan, Serov, Polenov, Nesterov, Korovin, Arhipov, Rakhmaninov, Skryabin, the Art theatre etc. were working during these years.

Musatov said: «…I am ready to run counter to general course … » «Calmness embraces my soul … my poor restless fellow- villagers… Here we have concerts, parties, performances, scandals… I improvise on the background of imagination, and my romanticism is an omnipotent bandmaster… »

In 1902 he writes his most well-known work “Pond” as a wedding gift. Here is how it was perceived by the eyes of his contemporaries: «We came to Victor from a muddy life… We were blinded by the paints, we did not understand… we were amazed; we were sitting in front of the picture and couldn’t utter a word for a long time. There was silence. Victor was quietly walking around in another room. How nice… My God … How nice!” - Someone whispered softly. And wide stream of happiness has filled our hearts. As if there was no low, small workshop and no rain outside the window, and those long provincial colorless days.

We roused ourselves at once, started talking, became noisy – happy, joyful… that was something absolutely new, unexpected and unprecedented. »

The artist had been recognized. In 1902 he received the premium of the Moscow Polenov and Repin Artists Society for his picture "Tapestry (Gobelin)". In 1904 an exhibition took place in Germany. Musatov’s works were exhibited in the Parisian Gallery of the National Society of Fine Arts, he was chosen as an Honorary Member of this Society. André Gide wrote to him… Nesterov wrote about his picture «Autumn song » (1905): «Picture like this one is invaluable. It is painted by the divine hand! »

Musatov died suddenly in 1905while working at the picture "Requiem". The following comment of a contemporary gives us the atmosphere of that time:

« And here, like the sound of bells, minor and slow, like the sound of the organ, sighing with intolerable grief; first flowing cascades of impetuous and gentle complaints, then fading at all, the picture rushed from the soul of the artist for some instants, from intentions of those amazed at night, from an unceasing sorrow of a daily life with its deceits, cruelty and thirst, the thirst for the unknown, for mysterious dreams in reality, it was the last cry from the heart of a swan…»

A French critic Arsene Alexander wrote about Russian exhibition at the Autumn Art Gallery in Paris (1906): «Here are at last new artists, colleagues of our reformers of the Autumn Gallery (Nabi), but they are more thoughtful, wiser, more subtle , as for example Musatov, Sabashnikovа, Sudeikin, Kuznetsov … »


The art of delicate, noble, sensitive and refined artists of the 19th century paved the way for artists of the 20th centuries, the art of action, abstract and speculative, leaning not on feelings but on mind. It emerged and developed before our eyes.


In 100 years life has changed. What is it now? The 21st century will give an answer to this question.

We observe 100th anniversary in memory of Victor Musatov. October, 26 and 27, 2005 "Artel", an informal Association of artists, critics, art workers and art fans with the support of the Museum of Modern Fine arts, the National Museum of Arts, the Ministry of Culture and the Union of Artists open an exhibition and conference: «Borisov- Musatov and modern art ». 

Gregory Nesterov

June 12, 2005