Interactions of the German and Russian cultures
Two prominent German artists — Ernst Barlach and Käthe Kollwitz — come back to Russia, the cultural region which they always felt connected to and which noticeably influenced their work. Their works reflect a cultural transfer that began more than 100 years ago and which this exhibition project aims to build on. What makes Käthe Kollwitz and Ernst Barlach outstanding figures of modernity is their unbroken plea for the man in his existential situation. Neither Barlach nor Kollwitz ever attempted to abstract from the state of human existence, but placed it in the center of their art and captured it in powerful images, which still produce a massive impression today. Both artists saw the task of their art in changing the world with their profoundly humanistic art. Their greatest achievement was undoubtedly their tireless struggle for peace.
The exhibition of over 220 works by the two German artists is accompanied by an extensive presentation of their Russian contemporaries: sculptors Boris Korolyov, Sergey Konyonkov, Anna Golubkina, draughtsmen and printmakers Vera Yermolayeva, Pyotr Osolodkov, Vassily Masyutin, Nikolay Kupreyanov, and others. Works by Russian artists, distinguished by their acute social vision and profound inner turmoil, could, by all means, be included in the circle of problems raised by many European artists. Shown next to the works by Barlach and Kollwitz, they persuade the viewer that imposing any ideological, political, or stylistic limitations on art is pointless since art has its own instruments for reflecting the complexity of the world, however tragic its history might be.