Me and the museum director!

Picasso Exhibit at Artetazh in Vladivostok

Published: October 26, 2012

Ул. Аксаковская, д. 12
Hours: 11 am – 7 pm
Cost: Adults – 300 ru, Students – 200 ru, Schoolchildren – 150 ru, Veterans & Very Young – Free

Let it never be said that Vladivostok is not a cultured town; you just have to search for it. Following the posting of some interesting posters in the vicinity of VGUES’s campus, some of my American mates, our favorite Korean exchange student, and I decided to check out this Picasso exhibit. Seeing as real Picassos are extremely expensive and hard to come by (or so we thought), we figured that this would be an exhibit full of reproductions/reinterpretations of Picasso’s already famous works. To our surprise we were completely wrong!

Underestimation on our part was the order of the day (down with American ethnocentrism!). After skirting a somewhat shady alley, and walking through what seemed to be a gravel-strewn back yard, our expectations for the exhibit were not waxing too high. However, when we finally walked into the building and up the steps, we were greeted with the realization that this was not just some half-cocked exhibit, but actually an entire museum of modern art! Upon walking through the doors, our expectations were yet further confounded by the airy, glass-ceilinged exhibition hall that showcased at least 40 lithographs and 15 or so ceramics.

There was still the question, however, of exactly who had created these works, as some were actually signed “Picasso.” As my compatriots and I discussed the question, a Russian walked over to us and introduced himself as the director of the museum, Aleksander Ivanovich Gorodnii. After getting to know him a little better, and of course taking some photos with him, he explained that all the pieces were actually created by Picasso! Apparently there was a time when Picasso rented a villa in France where he was quite productive…but also quite messy. He would work in one room, fill it up with stuff and then close off the room and begin using another one as his workshop, until one by one the rooms were all used up and Picasso abandoned the place. Years later, in recent times, the owners of the villa auctioned off these minor works, and one of the most avid buyers was a Russian businessman, who in connection with Mr. Gorodnii, created the exhibit in Vladivostok by loaning his works to the museum. Apparently, after its tenure in Vladivostok, the exhibit will continue on to Hong Kong and other parts unknown.

Well, needless to say that after this exciting news, we all examined each piece with renewed interest. The overwhelming majority of us had not even known that Picasso dabbled in such mediums as lithographs and ceramics! It was exciting to see the different sides of Picasso’s craft, and that the recurring themes and figures that feature prominently in his well-known works also appeared in many of these minor ones, and indeed, may have even been the source of them. As an added bonus, as we had gotten on so well with Mr. Gorodnii that he offered us a guided tour of the permanent portion of the museum! We quickly took him up on his offer and were thoroughly delighted by the other wonders of modern art housed in the apartment-sized exhibit area. There, in such a small space, was collected art from around the globe, with artists from Russia, and especially Vladivostok, taking pride of place, but also allowing room for French, Japanese, and even American productions.

If you, too, would like to sojourn to this awesome place, the Артэтаж (Artetazh, “Art Floor”) Museum of Modern Art is located at 12 Aksakovskaya St. Its hours of operation are 11:00 am – 7 pm daily, and if you would like specifically to see the Picasso exhibit, that will be open until November 11, 2012. The cost for students is 200 rubles, for non-student adults 300 rubles, for schoolchildren 150 rubles, and for veterans and children younger than school age entrance is free.

About the author

Jordan Bryant

Jordan Bryant is a recent graduate of Harvard University (Go Crimson!), who specialized in both Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Classics. In order to deepen her knowledge of the Russian language and study the culture from a perspective different than the ones she had already experienced in the “two capitals”, she has journeyed to Vladivostok, which is on the other side of the country! After she returns from Russia, she hopes to matriculate into law school and work in the field of international corporate law in Eastern Europe.

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