Review of Gallery Shchukin (Marina and Nikolay Shchukin) in Paris, France

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Lynne Partington
Paris, December 17, 2014

Glittering glorious Paris lives up to its sobriquet as the City of Light particularly during the Pre-Christmas Season each year.  Trees along the length of the Champs Elysees are covered in tiny sparkling white lights. Stalls line the streets selling everything from roasted chestnuts, hand crafted soaps and macaroons, to French cheese and cashmere sweaters.  There are skating rinks, pony rides, champagne tasting, and even Santa riding his sleigh above it all.  Yes, it is pure magic and it is all true.

Oooh La La.

Yet there is a another facet to winter in Paris which is warm, deep, and elegant.  At the mid point on the Champs Elysees between the Arc de Triomphe at one end and the enormous brilliantly lit Ferris Wheel dominating the Place de la Concorde at the other, one will find the Avenue Matignon. Walk along this street for a very few minutes, just a short block or two, and feel how the atmosphere changes.  The hustle and bustle of the Christmas Carnival are left behind, replaced by the quiet sophistication of a very different Paris.

Elegant cafés and tiny art galleries nestle against each other, understated yet compelling.  I arrived at number 4 Ave. Matignon where I was welcomed at the door by the warm, friendly Karolina Blasiak, Art Consultant for the collections of Marina and Nikolay Shchukin, for whom the Gallery is named (www.galleryshchukin.com).  By now rain is falling so I settled down with a cup of coffee while Karolina who speaks fluent English, (or French, German, Russian, or Polish if you prefer) explained the fascinating history behind the gallery and its current collection.  Karolina lived for many years in New York, was associated with the prestigious Arthur Kalaher Gallery (www.arthurtkalaherfineart.com) in Southampton and spent winters among art collectors in Sarasota, Florida.  She has a keen sense of American taste and appreciation in modern and contemporary art.

Karolina gave me a tour of the gallery and shared the fascinating history behind  it’s current collection.  Sergei Shchukin was born in Moscow in 1854.  Between 1880 and 1890 he became a respected textile trader during Russia’s fast rise in capitalism and in 1895 began collecting works of art.  Between 1905 and 1914, although a tragic time in Sergei’s personal life due to the violent deaths of many family members, his obsession with art continued to grow.  Shchukin became the ideal patron of Henri Matisse and bought 37 paintings of his best period.  In 1909 Shchukin purchased his first cubist Picasso.  He was at first both repulsed and fascinated by the completely unknown and miserable Spaniard but by 1914, his “Picasso room” counted fifty paintings, and Shchukin was reputed to be “the man who owns more Picasso than Picasso himself.” The outburst of the first world war severed  all communications, however, between Shchukin and his painters and merchants. By then his collection was complete with 258 works.  By February 1918, after the October Revolution and the start of the civil war Lenin’s Bolshevik government moved to Moscow and by August of that year dark clouds rose among the Moscow capitalists. Shchukin and his family left  Soviet Russia for Paris, at that time with forged passports and his cash, converted in diamonds, hidden in his little daughter Irina’s doll.  By October of 1918, Lenin declared the Shchukin collection and the palace, the property of the people.  Shchukin himself continued to live in Paris until his death in 1936.

On Thursday, September 11, 2014, Gallery Shchukin had the pleasure of presenting to the public a part of the private collection of Marina and Nikolay Shchukin which was dedicated to Russia’s Modern Masters.  The exhibition entitled “Night Life, Stage Life and Everyday Life” is comprised of a selection of works of Russian Artists from the early thirties of the twentieth century and gives a fresh look on the Russian avant-garde.  The inauguration at 4 Ave. Matignon attracted many collectors as well as Parisians and international visitors who were very impressed by the paintings and drawings of Russian artists who had been influenced mostly by French painting. In mid-January,  since I will still be in Paris, I am eagerly looking forward to the exhibition of sculptural works by:  “Russian Artist, Dashi Namdakov” and for the opportunity to meet the owners of the gallery Marina and Nikolay Shchukin.

The Gallery Shchukin is not to be missed during a trip to Paris when a quiet reprieve from the busy Champs Elysees reminds one that there exists a parallel universe within the City of Light.  It is a universe steeped in elegance and beauty that reveals itself on the Avenue Matignon.  Galleries provide viewers with a staggering array of art, none more profound than works of the avant garde Russian artists that lie behind the little  decorative iron gate at Number 4.

 

http://www.galleryshchukin.com
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VERNISSAGE DE L’EXPOSITION

Vie nocturne, vie sur scène et vie quotidienne par les Maîtres russes modernes

LE JEUDI 11 SEPTEMBRE 2014

GALLERY SHCHUKIN, PARIS

Exposition du 12 septembre au 8 novembre 2014,

Le jeudi 11 septembre 2014, la galerie Shchukin a eu le plaisir de présenter au public une partie de la collection privée de Marina et Nikolay Shchukin consacrée aux maîtres russes modernes. L’exposition « Vie nocturne, vie sur scène et vie quotidienne par les Maîtres russes modernes», révélant une sélection d’œuvres datant des trente premières années du XXe siècle, permet de porter un nouveau regard sur l’avant-garde russe.

L’inauguration, au 4 avenue Matignon, a attiré beaucoup d’amateurs, parisiens et internationaux, qui se sont montrés très séduits par les tableaux et les dessins de ces artistes russes influencés en grande majorité par la peinture française. L’événement a été enrichi par la présence du commissaire de l’exposition Matthew Drutt, venu exceptionnellement de New York, et des propriétaires de la galerie, Marina et Nikolay Shchukin. Ils ont eu le plaisir d’accueillir les nombreux présents et d’échanger avec eux sur les artistes et les œuvres exposés.

EXHIBITION OPENING

Night Life, Stage Life and Everyday Life by Russia’s Modern Masters

Thursday, September 11, 2014

GALLERY SHCHUKIN, PARIS

Exhibition from September 12 to November 8, 2014,

Thursday, September 11, 2014, Gallery Shchukin had the pleasure to present to the public part of the private collection of Marina and Nikolay Shchukin dedicated to Russia’s Modern Masters. The exhibition “Night Life, Stage Life and Everyday Life » by Russia’s Modern Masters”, showing a selection of works from the early thirties of the twentieth century, gives a fresh look on the Russian avant-garde.

The inauguration at 4 avenue Matignon, attracted many collectors, Parisians and international visitors who were very impressed by the paintings and drawings of these Russian artists influenced mostly by the French painting. The event was enriched by the presence of exhibition curator Matthew Drutt, who came exceptionally from New York, and the owners of the gallery, Marina and Nikolay Shchukin. They were pleased to welcome the many present visitors and discuss with them about the artists and the works on display.

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