Art and Commerce in Late Imperial Russia | The Peredvizhniki, a Partnership of Artists (Bloomsbury, 2019)
By Andrey Shabanov
Andrey Shabanov’s seminal reinterpretation of the Peredvizhniki is a comprehensive study that examines in-depth for the first time the organizational structure, self-representation, exhibitions, and critical reception of this 19th-century artistic partnership. Shabanov advances a more pragmatic reading of the Peredvizhniki, artists seeking professional and creative freedom in authoritarian Tsarist Russia. He likewise demonstrates and challenges how and why the group eventually came to be defined as a critically-minded Realist art movement. Unprecedentedly rich in new primary visual and textual sources, the book also connects afresh the Russian and Western art worlds of the period. A must-read for anyone interested in Russian art and culture, 19th-century European art, and also the history of art exhibitions, art movements, and the art market.
More information about the publication can be found here.
For those attending the College Art Association Annual Conference in February, we’re looking forward to seeing you in New York! Please add to your calendars the following SHERA events:
SHERA Business Meeting, followed by lunch:
Friday, 2/15, 12:30 pm, New York Hilton Midtown - 2nd Floor - Madison Suite
We’ll hold a 20 min. business meeting at the Hilton and then adjourn for further discussion and refreshment at the Russian Samovar (256 W. 52nd St.). If you plan to join us for lunch, RSVP here.
Saturday, 2/16, 2-3:30pm, New York Hilton Midtown - 2nd Floor – Gramercy West
“Looking East: Russian Orientalism in a Global Context,” organized by Maria Taroutina and Allison Leigh, with papers by Ekaterina Heath, Andrew Nedd, Katrin Kaufmann, Inessa Kouteinikova, and Marie Gasper-Hulvat.
If you’re participating in or know of a panel that might be of interest to SHERA members, please post it on H-SHERA or send the information to us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can compile a list and send it out before the conference.
At the end of my term as President of SHERA I would like to thank all Board members for their hard work to keep our Society in good shape, increasing membership, posting our news, and contributing to making progress. Thanks go to all SHERA members for enthusiastically participating in our activities, sharing news of their work, achievements, and publications, and participate in our sponsored sessions at CAA and ASEEES. We greatly appreciate the continued support of our institutional members.
Thanks to the organizing work of Karen Kettering and the jury she recruited, we were able to establish the long-planned Emerging Scholar Essay Prize and award it in 2017 and 2018. We owe thanks to the anonymous donor who made it possible for us to award a SHERA Travel Grant for a confirmed speaker to facilitate attendance of CAA or ASEEES respectively in alternating years.
It would have been very difficult to oversee our activities without the continued counseling and attention of former Presidents Margaret Samu and Natasha Kurchanova.
It has been an honor for me to serve and I am confident that SHERA continues to make further progress under the guardianship of our new President and the continuing service of our Officers.
I wish a Happy Holiday Season to all of you and look forward to meeting up at our SHERA-sponsored sessions and other venues.
With Greetings to All, Eva Forgacs
The SHERA board is pleased to announce that Dr. Ekaterina Heath of the University of Sydney has been selected as the recipient of the SHERA Graduate Student / Independent Scholar Travel Grant for CAA 2019. She will deliver her paper entitled “Picturing the Cathay in Russia: Political use of Chinoiserie interiors under Empress Elisabeth Petrovna and Emperor Peter III” in the panel “Looking East: Russian Orientalism in a Global Context.” For more details see CAA’s webpage.
SHERA-sponsored panel at ASEEES 2019 (Deadline February 1, 2019)
The SHERA Board invites proposals for the Society’s sponsored panel at the 2019 ASEEES Annual Conference. The conference will be held in San Francisco from November 23 to 26, 2019 and the theme is “Belief.” More information on the convention theme can be found here. As an affiliated society, SHERA may submit one sponsored panel. This session has guaranteed acceptance from ASEEES and will be identified as an Affiliated Society session in all ASEEES conference schedules (printed, online, and in the conference app).
Proposed panels must focus on issues of art, architecture, visual culture, or any of the fields concerning SHERA as a Society.
All members of the proposed panel must be members of ASEEES and SHERA in good standing and must register for the conference. Please submit:
- Title and a brief description of the panel (no more than 250 words)
- Names of all panel members, including chair and discussants, and a brief CV (no more than two pages) for each
- Brief descriptions of each paper (no more than 250 words)
Proposals should be sent to email@example.com with the subject heading “SHERA-sponsored panel at ASEEES 2019.”
The deadline for submission of panels to ASEEES is February 15, 2019. Therefore, applications must be sent to the SHERA Board by February 1, 2019 for notification on February 10, 2019.
Tuesday, September 4, 2018 to Thursday, October 18, 2018 Harriman Institute Atrium, 12th Floor International Affairs Building (420 W 118th St) Exhibit runs September 4 – October 18, 2018. Exhibit hours are Monday–Friday, 9:00AM – 5:00PM excluding university holidays.
Artist Anne Bobroff-Hajal has a PhD in Russian History and is the author of the scholarly volume Working Women in Russia Under the Hunger Tsars. Her extensively researched polyptychs are satirical commentaries on how Russia’s ruling elites have historically taken advantage of their unique geographic situation to amass and maintain power. She means for her art to honor and serve the dispossessed and forgotten.
Bobroff-Hajal’s work draws formally on the similarities among icons, political cartoons, animation storyboards, and graphic novels, all of which tell stories in pictures. Her tales are told across centuries to the Infant Stalin by three tsarist godparents: Ivan IV, Catherine the Great, and Peter the Great. Each polyptych is “narrated” via the artist’s original lyrics set to the tune of Kalinka, in a series of tableaux which viewers “read” through numbered frames or simply from left to right. Bobroff-Hajal’s goal is to beguile viewers to identify and engage with forces that have shaped power structures in Russia and other parts of the world.
Intellectually, Bobroff-Hajal’s work brings together disparate fields’ analyses of Russia: historians of ideology who have observed Russian elites’ centuries-old use of the threat of invasion to unify the country behind an autocratic leader; global history scholars like Perry Anderson who wrote that “Eastern Absolutism…was the price of [Russians’] survival in a civilization of unremitting territorial warfare;” geographers who have described Russia as “the least defensible country on earth” because of its vast flatland steppes devoid of natural barriers to invasion. Putin today is only the most recent Russian ruler to manipulate threat of invasion across the plains to support extreme appropriation of wealth and power from the populace for the benefit of ruling elites.
Bobroff-Hajal’s 110-page fully illustrated catalogue is now published online, with extensive historical analysis and info about her artistic process. Please click here to access the catalogue. For best results view using the “full screen” function.
Historian J. Arch Getty wrote,
Anne Bobroff-Hajal’s art combines deep historical knowledge with humor and artistic talent that speaks to audiences ranging from school children to professors. I cannot imagine a more distinctive and iconoclastic combination. In her formidable painting of Ivan IV, his stern face conveys a series of meanings, and the postures of his underlings depict patronage and clan relationships that reflect the latest historical research on the 16th century. Her paintings of Stalin with Bolshevik patronage clans show a similar skill and informed artistry that also capture recent research. Her Catherine the Great, who ‘flies’ by means of stilt-walking serfs hoisting her and her heavy decorative gold wings, does more, and more vividly than many books on Catherine. The whimsical style of her work allows it (like icons of old) to tell stories on many levels, ranging from the nearly comic to an accomplished complexity. Her work is truly unique and deserves a wide audience.
From the artist:
“I’ve been asked how I can bear to spend so much time painting brutality and horrors. I do it because art—with its color, beauty, satire, story, whimsy—is the tool we humans have to lift us from despair as we investigate the sources of atrocities so as to combat them in the future.
How do elites—not only in Russia, but the world over—amass the power to do such terrible things to less powerful people? What are the resources rulers use to accumulate power? How do they exploit those resources to maintain their omnipotence? How have some some regions of the world been able to wield dominion over other regions?
Russian absolutism, as historian Perry Anderson observed, not only began earlier than in Europe, it “outlived all its contemporaries, to become the only Absolutist State in the continent to survive intact into the 20th century.” The 1917 collapse of the Tsarist autocracy was followed a decade after the Bolshevik Revolution by the rising Joseph Stalin’s “Communist” autocracy. That in turn collapsed in the 1990s, to be followed a decade later by the rise of a new autocrat-in-the-making, Vladimir Putin. Why do distinctive historic cycles recur in each region of the globe, and how can they be broken?
I believe that each land’s distinct geography presents singular opportunities for elites to build and sustain power. In particular, Russia is by far the planet’s largest flat landscape. Geographers have called Russia the least defensible terrain on earth because of its lack of natural barriers against hugely powerful neighbors. My art explores the web of interconnections between Russia’s unique geography—both natural and human—and its rulers, clans, and laboring classes. I paint the social system Russia’s geography gives rise to, the elites it empowers, and hundreds of tiny portraits of individual people straining to achieve their goals within that system.
It may seem obsessional to paint so many three-inch-high portraits in such a time-intensive way, often using a magnifying glass to paint each face and detail. But I create art to honor and hopefully serve the dispossessed and forgotten. My goal is for my art to delight viewers to identify forces that have shaped varying power structures in different parts of the world, in order to illuminate how they might create change within their own.”
Date: April 5-6, 2019 Location: Princeton University
Organizers: Alice Isabella Sullivan, Ph.D. (University of Michigan) Maria Alessia Rossi, Ph.D. (The Index of Medieval Art, Princeton University)
Description: In response to the global turn in art history, this two-day symposium explores the temporal and geographic parameters of the study of medieval art, seeking to challenge the ways we think about the artistic production of Eastern Europe. Serbia, Bulgaria, and the Romanian principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia, and Transylvania, among other centers, took on prominent roles in the transmission and appropriation of western medieval, byzantine, and Slavic artistic traditions, as well as the continuation of the cultural legacy of Byzantium in the later centuries of the empire, and especially in the decades after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
This symposium will be the first such initiative to explore, discuss, and focus on the art, architecture, and visual culture of regions of the Balkans and the Carpathians (c.1300-c.1550). We aim to raise issues of cultural contact, transmission, and appropriation of western medieval, byzantine, and Slavic artistic and cultural traditions in eastern European centers, and consider how this heritage was deployed to shape notions of identity and visual rhetoric in these regions from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries. This event will offer a comparative and multi-disciplinary framework, ranging from art history to archeology and from material culture to architectural history.
We aim to create a platform where scholars at various stages of their careers can discuss their research and engage in dialogue regarding the specificities but also the shared cultural heritage of these regions of Eastern Europe that developed eclectic visual vocabularies and formed a cultural landscape beyond medieval, byzantine, and modern borders.
Papers could address topics that include, but are not limited to: How cross-cultural contact facilitated the transfer, appropriation, and transmission of ideas and artistic traditions across geographical and temporal boundaries in Eastern Europe (c.1300-c.1550) Artistic and iconographic developments as expressions of particular social, political, and ecclesiastical circumstances and dialogues in the Balkans and the Carpathians The intentions and consequences of diplomatic missions and dynastic marriages in the visual agenda of eastern European centers Workshop practices and traveling artists beyond medieval political and religious borders Patronage and new constructs of identity before and after 1453
Interested scholars should submit a paper title, a 500-word abstract, and a CV by August 15, 2018 to the organizers at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Funds will be available to defray the cost of travel and accommodations for participants whose papers are accepted in the Symposium. So far, this event is supported in part by the International Center of Medieval Art (www.medievalart.org), the Society of Historians of East European, Eurasian, and Russian Art and Architecture (www.shera-art.org), as well as The Index of Medieval Art at Princeton University.
We are pleased to announce the results of the December 2017 SHERA elections and warmly welcome the following individuals to the SHERA Board. Congratulations! We look forward to working with you.
Members-at-large (2 year term)
Hanna Chuchvaha Nic Iljine Natalia Kolodzei Andrey Shabanov
Secretary-Treasurer (2 year term)
Alice Isabella Sullivan
Web News Editor (1 year term)
Corina L. Apostol
Thank you to the SHERA dues-paying members who voted.
Sincerely, SHERA Officers
Eva Forgacs, President Karen Kettering, Vice-President/President-Elect Ksenia Nouril, Secretary-Treasurer Yelena Kalinsky, Listserv Administrator Corina L. Apostol, Web News Editor Anna P. Sokolina, SHERA-SAH Liaison
The SHERA Emerging Scholar Prize was awarded to Christina E. Crawford (Emory University) for her article “From Tractors to Territory: Socialist Urbanization through Standardization,” Journal of Urban History (January 2018).
The jury consisted of Carolyn C. Guile, Janet Kennedy, Juliet Koss, Marie Alice L’Heureux, and Colleen McQuillen.
Jury commendation: Rigorously researched and theoretically astute, Christina Crawford’s essay “From Tractors to Territory: Socialist Urbanization through Standardization” (Journal of Urban History) is the Award Committee’s unanimous choice for the First Annual SHERA Emerging Scholars’ Essay Prize. Examining the design and construction of both the Kharkiv Tractor Factory (1930-31) and the neighboring planned city for its workers, Crawford details the importation of a Fordist model of industrial standardization into a Soviet context and demonstrates how the concept of priviazka, taken from contemporaneous architectural discourse, was productively applied to other spheres in order to facilitate rapid growth in manufacturing and distribution. Her essay illuminates the importance of adaptability within the ostensibly standardized design practices that fueled the breakneck tempo of industrialization and urbanization during Stalin’s first Five-Year Plan. Innovative and authoritative, Crawford’s scholarship offers a methodological model for considering the relationship of architectural design and economic development during the process of early Soviet industrialization.
Next Emerging Scholar Prize deadline: September 30, 2018
SHERA congratulates Dr. Alla Rosenfeld on her appointment as Curator of Russian and European Art at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. The Mead Art Museum is an institutional member of SHERA.
The press release of the announcement is pasted below.
AMHERST, Mass. — The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College has appointed Dr. Alla Rosenfeld to the position of curator of Russian and European art, effective May 22, 2017. Rosenfeld will oversee the program for Russian and European art at the Mead, including researching the collection, developing exhibitions and proposing new acquisitions. In addition, Rosenfeld will collaborate with the Amherst Center for Russian Culture and other faculty, scholars and students at Amherst College.
Rosenfeld comes to the Mead from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., where she has taught a wide range of courses on Russian art and culture and served from 1992-2006 as director of the Russian Art Department and senior curator of Russian art at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers. Rosenfeld also worked as vice president and senior specialist in Russian paintings for Sotheby’s in New York from 2006-2009.
Rosenfeld earned her master’s degree in the theory and history of art from the Ilya Repin State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture (Academy of Fine Arts) in St. Petersburg, Russia, and her doctorate in modern and contemporary European and American art from the Graduate Center at City University of New York. Her research and teaching centers on modern and contemporary European art, with particular emphasis on Russian culture and intellectual history, Soviet and post-Soviet cultural politics, Soviet nonconformist art, the history of design and graphic arts, the history of theater and theater design.
Rosenfeld has curated numerous exhibitions on subjects including nonconformist art, Russian costume and stage design and Russian graphic arts of the early 20th century. Rosenfeld’s publications include the A Biographical Dictionary and A World of Stage: Russian Design for Theater, Opera, and Dance. She was general editor and contributed to the volumes Moscow Conceptualism in Context and Art of the Baltics: The Struggle for Freedom of Artistic Expression under the Soviets, 1945-1991. Rosenfeld has been awarded various prestigious research fellowships, including the Belvedere museum of Austrian Art in Vienna and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.), as well as several fellowships from the American Association of Museums.
For Rosenfeld, the Mead’s acclaimed Thomas P. Whitney Collection of Russian Art holds particular allure. “I see my new position as an unparalleled opportunity to work with such an important collection of Russian art and to contribute my utmost for the Mead’s success,” she says. Along with her other responsibilities as curator, Rosenfeld is looking forward to working closely with faculty and students at Amherst College. “I believe that it is important to promote the participation of students in the activities of the museum through research opportunities and assistance in on-site curatorial projects that involves the Mead’s rich collections of Russian and European art,” she says. “I hope that I can share my significant research in avant-garde and contemporary art with students to fulfill curricular goals as well as attract larger audiences to the museum.”
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Alla Rosenfeld to the Mead’s staff and to the Amherst community,” says David E. Little, director and chief curator of the Mead, who chaired the search committee. “Dr. Rosenfeld is a prolific scholar and curator with an infectious passion for art and history that I know will inspire Amherst students and yield great publications and exhibitions at the Mead. She possesses deep knowledge in both Russian art and publications, matching perfectly with the focus of the Thomas P. Whitney collection.”
Established with funds bequeathed by William Rutherford Mead (Class of 1867), a partner in the storied architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, the Mead Art Museum holds the 19,000-object art collection of Amherst College, representing a wide range of historical periods, national schools, and artistic media. The Mead’s Thomas P. Whitney Collection of Russian Art features more than 400 objects created by artists in Russia and in exile in the 19th and 20th centuries. Whitney, a diplomat, writer, translator and journalist, graduated from Amherst College in 1937, co-created the Amherst Center for Russian Culture in 1991, and donated his collection of Russian artwork to Amherst College in 2001.
The Mead’s collection also includes American and European paintings, Mexican ceramics, Tibetan scroll paintings, an English paneled room, ancient Assyrian carvings, West African sculpture, Korean ceramics, and Japanese prints, along with fine holdings of American furniture and silver.