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Russia Has Invaded Norman by Susan Grossman Russia has invaded Norman. A series of exhibits at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art is exploring everything from icons, to immigrant art and photography at the University of Oklahoma institution. This Soviet theme and exploration of the many aspects of Soviet life is supported by films, lectures and courses. The days of Romanov rule (1613-1918) was recently featured in Tradition in Translation: Russian Icons from the Hillwood Collection. Offering a rare insight into sacred devotional images of Russia, the icons and their evolution reflected the influences of the East versus the West, tradition versus innovation, and church versus state during the 300-year reign of the Romanov family. On the heels of the icons exhibit comes American Artists from the Russian Empire which opened Oct. 4 with a free public showing. Exploring early 20th century Russian immigrant art, the traveling exhibit features Soviet street scenes, paintings of the American West, abstracts and portraits. Overall, the exhibit showcases the volume and diversity of the styles, genre and media used that made Russian immigrants among the most active and influential in America. The collection emphasizes how everyday environments reflect art. Featuring a wide-ranging selection of works on loan from museums, galleries and private collections, American Artists from the Russian Empire explores the impact of American culture and art movements on Russian artists living in the United States and highlights the influence and contributions of these artists in shaping American culture. “American Artists from the Russian Empire is an innovative undertaking, drawing as it does upon the unique resources of many American collections,” said Derrick Cartwright, executive director of the San Diego Museum of Art. “These collections, both public and private, represent the profound contributions of dozens of Russian-born artists.” Composed of more than 70 paintings and sculptures by Nicolai Fechin, Leon Gaspard, Jacques Lipchitz, Mark Rothko, Ben Shahn, Alexis Arapoff, Pavel Tchelitchew and Max Weber among others, the installation will remain on display through Jan. 4. Evgenia Petrova, deputy director for science at the State Russian Museum, curated the show and gave a walk-through of the show at its opening. Lenders to the exhibition include the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and private collections of artist’s daughters Kate Rothko and Mary Arapoff. Following the Oklahoma debut, the exhibit will travel to the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow before returning to the United States for a final showing at the San Diego Museum of Art. Said Ghislain D’Humieres, director of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, “The influence of this exhibition on the university’s culture

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Alexander Liberman, Maquette for On High, Welded and Painted Steel on Steel Base, 23 5/8”x16”x16”

of learning is enormous and we are delighted for Norman to be the opening venue and Oklahoma to be one of only two states to host the exhibition.” This collaboration between the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Russia and California provides an outstanding opportunity to promote an exceptional collection of art and to open a discussion about the influence of national culture on careers and styles of individual artists. Through this exhibition, visitors should be encouraged to consider concepts of international diversity, compassion and curiosity for foreign cultures.” In conjunction with American Artists from the Russian Empire, faculty from the OU College of Fine Arts have collaborated to create a “dream” course to enhance the understanding of the exhibition. Experts of national and international stature will visit campus and teach, along with OU faculty, Russian Arts in the 20th Century. The course will examine all aspects of Russia and its history including architecture and palace interiors, dance, music and art history and will be open to the public. The museum’s weekly film series, Fred Films, will tie into the Russian theme as well. Coming in November is a photography exhibit titled Reflections: Russian Contemporary Photography. Photos included were taken by photographers of the Moscow Times newspaper between 1992 and 2002, a time of exceptional turmoil in Russia with the end of communism. The exhibit will be open until Jan. 4. n About the Author: Susan Grossman is assistant director of marketing for University of Oklahoma Outreach and a freelance writer based in Norman. She can be reached at susangrossman@cox.net.

Profile for Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition

Art Focus Oklahoma, November/December 2008  

2008 November/December Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight...

Art Focus Oklahoma, November/December 2008  

2008 November/December Art Focus Oklahoma is a bimonthly publication of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition dedicated to stimulating insight...

Profile for ovac