The exhibition “The Artist is Unknown. Touch upon the Essential” invites visitors

09 October 2023

On October 12 the Museum of Russian Impressionism will open an exhibition of paintings and graphics by unknown artists of the late 19th to the first third of the 20th century. The names of these masters have not been established due to historical circumstances, but their works can stand on a par with pictures by famous painters.

The exhibition «The Artist is Unknown. Touch upon the Essential» invites visitors to abstract from the artist’s personality and evaluate the paintings on the basis of the main categories of art. Interactive elements will help the guests find out the key visual characteristics of painting and graphics. Works marked U/A rarely come to the attention of a wide audience, since preference is usually given to famous artists at exhibitions.

The first major exhibition featuring lost authorship or clearly unsigned works from the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries will allow a new look at the art of this period, without the paintings with which it is traditionally associated. The exhibition will also include works whose authorship has been established over the past 60 years. The curators collected stories from museums and collectors about the path of U/A paintings from their appearance in the collection to attribution.

Accounts sometimes reminiscent of detective stories accompany the works by Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Nicholas Millioti, Ivan Kliun and other artists that were for many years considered anonymous. The museum space on the 1st and 3rd floors will turn into a multi-sensory laboratory consisting of seven sections: light, colour, shape, composition, texture, point and line, sound and movement. Guests of the exhibition will be able to split a beam of light into colours, select colour combinations, examine the texture under a magnifying glass and listen to the sound of the painting, activate a line, assemble a cubist composition, and even display their own work in the museum.

The project will give a rare opportunity to show works that are usually hidden from the public in storerooms. Visitors will see items from 6 private and 30 public collections. These include the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Hermitage, the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, the A. N. Radischev State Art Museum in Saratov, and others. A number of works, including a double-sided work by Robert Falk, ‘Portrait of a Woman’ by David Burliuk, ‘Notebook’ by Natan Pevzner and «# 207. Untitled» by Wassily Kandinsky, will be supplemented with tactile layouts for blind and partly sighted visitors .

At the end of the project four of these models will go to regional museums.

The exhibition is suitable for family visits.

An interactive guide, ‘Seven Secrets of One Painting’, will contain notes about the paintings, questions and recommendations that will help visitors with children devise a comfortable route and get acquainted with the work of unknown artists in an exciting way. This project will be accompanied by an extensive educational programme for different ages and involves inclusive activities.

The catalogue will include articles by exhibition curators Anastasia Vinokurova and Konstantin Tsalikov, art critics Sofia Bagdasarova and Alexey Naumov. The album section will be supplemented by a history of the acquisition and attribution of works by unknown authors in museum and private collections from researchers and collectors.


Anastasia Vinokurova — senior Exhibition Department Specialist at the Museum of Russian Impressionism; Konstantin Tsalikov — Education Department Specialist at the Museum of Russian Impressionism.

Images: .


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