Russian Realist Painters in Revolutionary Times

The Kunstsammlungen (Art Collections) Chemnitz presents the exhibitionThe Peredvizhniki – Russian Realist Painters. The exhibition consists of 90 works on loan from the State Tretjakov Gallery, Moscow, and the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg. The Peredvizhniki were an important and highly influential Russian secession movement in the second half of the 19th century. In their realist portrait, landscape and genre paintings the Peredvizhniki artists opposed the traditional Academy painting, which they regarded as too rigid, both in form and content. The Peredvizhniki (which in Russian means Society for the Promotion of Touring Exhibitions) were an artists`group founded in Saint Petersburg in 1870. Between 1871 and 1922 the Peredvizhniki organized 48 touring exhibitions to numerous cities in their attempts to familiarize people outside of Moscow and Saint Petersburg with their art.
Contrary to the more traditional, darker palette, the Peredvizhniki opted for a freer mode of painting in brighter colours, it was the time of impressionism after all. They also intended their portrayals to be more natural and show people in relation to their immediate surroundings. The group was determined to depict contemporary Russian society; they painted poor agricultural labourers, political activists and prisoners with the same dedication as the intellectual elite and mythological or folkloric themes, to say nothing of the idyllic expanses and beauties of the Russian landscape. The Peredvizhniki soon became a driving force in Russian art. The group was finally disbanded in 1923. The works of the Peredvizhniki have enjoyed great popularity in Russia since the late 19th century, whereas they are little known in the western European context.

The works date mainly from 1870 to 1910, when the influence of the Peredvizhniki on Russian art was at its strongest. The exhibition highlights several of the focal points of Peredvizhniki art, including the major social, intellectual and political issues influencing Russian art at the time and reflected in the works of these artists.