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Konstantin Somov “Uncensored”

September 6 October 27


Konstantin Somov “Uncensored”

September 6 – October 27

Konstantin Somov
“Uncensored”

Konstantin Somov
“Uncensored”
We invite you to our long-awaited exhibition “Konstantin Somov. Uncensored “, which will last in the Odesa Fine Arts Museum from September 6 to October 27, 2019.

In this exhibition, two heroes are strongly connected with Odesa. The first – was Konstantin Somov, St.Petersburg artist, graphic artist, illustrator, and one of the founders of the society and the magazine “World of Art”. The second hero of the exhibition is Mykhailo Braikevych, Odesa mayor of the late 1910s, engineer, economist, collector, philanthropist, public, and statesman.

Braikevich was friends with Somov – thanks to this he managed to collect one of the largest collections of the artist in the world, it is now stored in the Odesa Fine Arts Museum.

This year Konstantin Somov is 150 years old, and the last exhibition of Braikevich’s collection in Odesa took place 100 years ago. In September, we will show for the first time all the works of the master, which keep our funds. Among the exhibits are rare erotic drawings for the Book of the Marquise, a collection of frivolous French texts of the XVIII century. The exhibition will be complemented by Somov’s works, which are stored in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Dnipro, and other cities.

Konstantin Somov

Konstantin Andreevich Somov was born 150 years ago and died 80 years ago. Quite a few books and articles are devoted to this artist, and yet much less is still known about Somov than the place in the history of art he holds suggests. However, this does not mean that he was once forgotten but is now remembered. Despite minor labels, which he gladly used for more than half a century (“decadent”, “emigrant”, “homosexual”), he held a special position. While many artists built new theories, engaged in politics, and formed associations and schools, Somov seemed to shy away from modernity, while influencing it – his art, strength, and persuasiveness of artistic expression. And this strength and persuasiveness have always been difficult to bypass.

One of the most devoted admirers of Somov’s art was Mikhail Vasilyevich Braikevich. He came from a poor noble family that owned an estate in the village of Popivka near Odesa. In Odesa, he studied at the gymnasium, then graduated with honors from the Institute of Railway Engineers in St.Petersburg. For many years he successfully built railways and extremely complex port facilities throughout the Russian Empire, thanks to which he earned a fortune and gained recognition as a politician.

“The most refined and best man in the world” – so-called the St.Petersburg artist Somov and his contemporaries.

Somov and Braikevich met on the eve of the First World War. As you can see, the personal qualities of Mikhail Vasilyevich largely determined the nature of his collection. Somov worked slowly, and many of his works were promised in advance to collectors. Braikevich’s ardent desire to get as many of Somov’s works as possible forced the artist to extract from folders graphics of different years – sketches, sketches, sketches, preparatory sheets. Although more valuable in comparison with them are considered to be finished paintings and fully completed drawings, it is working on a paper that can introduce Somov’s studio, mostly graphics: to explain the creative idea, to show the architectonics of artistic thinking. When Braikevich and Somov came closer, the collector was allowed to work with the artist to order.

In early April 1919, due to the approach of the Red Army, the evacuation of Odesa was announced, and Mikhail Braikevich and his family left the city. However, before that, he managed to transfer his art collection to Novorossiysk University. Soviet rule lasted several months – in August, Odesa was occupied by the Volunteer Army led by Lieutenant General Anton Ivanovich Denikin.

Shortly afterward, the first exhibition of Braikevich’s collection opened. It was organized by Professor Nikolai Lvovich Okunev, who fled from the Bolsheviks to Odesa from Petrograd. The artist Philip Goziason wrote about that exhibition in the “Odesa Leaf”: “Thus, at the height of the Civil War, Odesa managed to acquire a real cultural gem: a small but extremely valuable and necessary museum of Russian paintings – paintings by Rokotov, Repin, Serov, Vrubel, Somov, Bakst, Benoit, Lancer… Congratulations from the bottom of our hearts our city, poor in artistic values, hungry for true art.”

At the end of 1923, Somov found himself in England traveling from the Soviet Union to the United States, where he went to organize a major exhibition. In London, Konstantin Andreevich was gladly received by Braikevich and his family. In exile, the artist and connoisseur came together even more closely. Mikhail Vasilyevich became one of the main catfish customers. Braikevich came on business to Paris, where Somov finally settled in 1925, and each time saw the artist.

“My wild admirer Mykhailo Vasyliovych came to visit me – he was with me twice,” Somov wrote to his sister in Leningrad; Such adoration as he has for me is truly touching and very uplifting. He said, “All my free money is yours!” But he earns it by sweating his forehead. It is also touching that his wife, as he says, does not pay attention to money, is not bourgeois, and does not prevent him from spending on collecting. “An enthusiast who doesn’t exist now,” – the artist added in his diary.

The purpose of this exhibition is to remind us of the great patron Mikhail Braikevich, but first of all, of course, about Konstantin Somov, whose art he highly valued.

Pavlo Golubev

The Book of the Marquise

The Book of the Marquise is the highest achievement of Konstantin Somov as a book graphic artist and at the same time one of the peaks of the illustration of the Silver Age as a whole.

In the mid-1900s, Somov was already well known in European countries, especially in France, Austria, and Germany, and worked for German publishers.
One such order came from the Hans von Weber Verlag publishing house in Munich. The name of one of them, the anthology of erotic literature “Book of the Marquise”, directly pointed to the source of stylization – the boudoir book of the XVIII century.

The book was published in 1908. Although the idea of the anthology was not fully realized (because of this the Munich edition was called the “Little Marquise”), work on it seriously influenced Somov’s art of the next decade. The artist often returned to
the characteristic plots and motifs of the Book of the Marquise. He was repeatedly visited by the idea of preparing a new edition.

In November 1915, the Union graphic and graphic institution invited Somov to prepare a new Marquise. The artist began without delay: he wrote the original drawings of the Marquise Book and collected preparatory materials for a new graphic suite. This work took 1916 and was part of the next. Somov used all the sketches for the Munich edition (the banned ones were published) and created new ones. In addition, he completely rewrote the anthology.

However, over the next two years, Union ceased to exist. The idea was picked up by the St. Petersburg firm Golike and Wilberg. Somov prepared two books for her at once: the so-called “Middle Marquise” and “The Great Marquis” – the most complete collection of erotic drawings on the theme of gallant age (the most outspoken in the “Middle Marquis” did not get).

All the authentic copies of the “Grand Marquis” that have come down to us are well known: occasionally one of them appears in free sale. But in the Odesa Fine Arts Museum there is an even greater rarity – excerpts from the Book of the Marquise painted by Somov. The author’s coloring of one-color prints was to serve as a model for printing artists in creating color illustrations. However, Somov usually did not limit himself to this task: he painted a few more prints – created others, not intended for reproduction of unique color variations. Collectors willingly bought such works.

In 1917, at the request of Mikhail Braikevich, the artist painted about sixty illustrations of the “Grand Marquise”. The work was performed in three stages: first, in the spring of 1917, Somov painted five sheets. In the summer, the artist completed the main part – “about 60 pieces” – and finally in September, one or more extrusions. Unfortunately, the list of these illustrations is not in Somov’s documents or the OFAM archives – even the number of works is currently unknown. According to archival sources, a significant part of them was stolen during the Romanian occupation of Odesa during World War II.

Buy a catalog

Exhibition catalog

The publication acquaints with the works of the master from the collections of the Odesa Fine Arts Museum, other museums of Ukraine, as well as Latvia and Lithuania. Especially for the anniversary exhibition, the artist’s works have been carefully described and commented on with the involvement of a large number of archival materials that have not yet been published. Many of these works are reproduced for the first time.

The cost of the catalog: UAH 350
The number of pages: 232
Language of publication: Ukrainian

The publication includes appendices: the initial prices of some works, a list of paintings and drawings by Somov, lost during the Second World War, etc. Most works are published for the first time. The publication is addressed to both specialists and a wide range of readers interested in the history of art and culture.

Compiler – Pavlo Golubev, curator of the exhibition “Konstantin Somov. Uncensored “,
Candidate of Art History

Details

Start:
06.09.2019
End:
27.10.2019
Event Category:
вул. Софіївська, 5а
Одеса,Ukraine
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