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Universal artists

Exhibition December 21, 2023 − February 22
december 21 at 18:00 in the exhibition hall of the Museum of Modern Arts named after S. P. Diaghilev will be held the exhibition "Universal Artists. To the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg State University".
When preparing the project of the jubilee exhibition "Universalist Artists. The S.P. Diaghilev Museum of Contemporary Arts of St. Petersburg State University identified almost one hundred and fifty names of people who studied at St. Petersburg University and LSU named after A.A. Zhdanov and proved themselves in the field of fine arts. Unfortunately, the small format of the exhibition space and the difficult accessibility of works by Vrubel, Ge, Polenov and other coryphees of Russian painting made it possible to create an exposition only on the basis of university collections and works from private collections. At the same time, it helped to focus on names not well known to the general public and relatively young masters at the height of their creative powers. In the exhibition each of the four dozen authors who once studied at the university is represented by one work. The exposition is opened by the works of the classics of Russian art of the early twentieth century - Nikolai Roerich, Ivan Bilibin, Yuri Annenkov. Alexander Benois and Mstislav Dobuzhinsky are presented as masters of book illustration. The works of Georgy Vereisky, Sergey Shteinberg, Evgenia Evenbach, as well as the works of Oleg Lyagachev, Valentin Gerasimenko, Vadim Voinov, participants of the nonconformist movement, belong to the Soviet era. The homemade booklets of Yevgeny Rukhin, the leader of Leningrad independent art, are of interest as evidence of the market relations that existed in the underground despite official prohibitions. Early forms of local conceptualism are demonstrated by Valery Cherkasov, whose works rarely appear in exhibitions. Among the artists of the late twentieth century there are both famous names like Vladimir Shinkarev, the creator of the "mitki" movement, and amateurs known only in a narrow circle. Students will be interested to see the works of their teachers-teachers of the university: philosopher Valery Savchuk, art critics Ivan Chechot and Gleb Ershov. In addition to masters of painting and graphics, the exhibition includes the famous photographer Valentin Til Samarin, as well as artists who turned to new forms of art that emerged in the late twentieth century: performance art - Viktor Snesar, video art - Lera Lerner, and 3D-animation - Sergey Shvemberger.

The new exposition of the Diaghilev Museum. S.P. Diaghilev develops the research started by the university publications "Universities in the World of Art" (2008) and "Famous Art Workers at St. Petersburg University" (2017). These books demonstrated that many names familiar from childhood of great artists, poets, musicians, and theater figures are associated with the university. Lyon Feuchtwanger's popular words "a man talented is talented in all fields" -- this is one explanation for the fact that masters of the fine arts are not even humanities majors, but people who studied to be physicists, mathematicians, geologists, zoologists, and soil scientists. The Renaissance geniuses called "titans" by Engels, who in the person of Leonardo combined a scientist and an artist, created the ideal of a harmonious person, which in St. Petersburg State University was based on the historically formed field around the university, attractive for various talents, the reputation of the temple of science, "place of power" or, as the English say, "place to be". For example, Sergei Diaghilev studied at the Faculty of Law for six years instead of the required four because, by his own admission, he "loved the university terribly" for its atmosphere and dapper uniforms. Nowadays, St. Petersburg State University already teaches a wide variety of artistic specialties, and the exhibition of university students of the past eras, who took up art at the call of their hearts, demonstrates to future artists the value of university education in all its high complexity and great diversity.