16 October, 17

Art-marathon: Kiefer — Khlebnikov

On the night of July 1 to 2, 2017 as part of the educational program for the "Anselm Kiefer to Velimir Khlebnikov" exhibition in the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage the art marathon “Kiefer and Khlebnikov. Intersections: Painting – Literature – Music” took place. Supported by the Aksenov Family Foundation, the "Dialogues" discussion program was organised with participation of well-known figures of culture and art.

The goal of the marathon was to show the urgency and relevance of synaesthesia of painting, literature, music, and other art forms that was popular in the modernist art of the early twentieth century on the example of various aspects of the works of Anselm Kiefer and Velimir Khlebnikov.

The art marathon "Kiefer and Khlebnikov. Intersections: Painting - Literature - Music" discussions series was opened by Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage: "Kiefer is my favorite contemporary artist and Khlebnikov is my favorite poet. Therefore, I am very happy that the exhibition turned out to be successful and beautiful... I am also very happy that we are all here today and that I see many beautiful faces... Thanks to Kiefer's paintings, The Nicholas Hall has acquired a nice touch due to the light which goes first to the ceiling and then to the paintings. Only now its magnificent column caps have been revealed and become perfectly visible”.

Opening lectures by art historians Ivan Chechot and Stanislav Savitsky summarized the experience of analyzing the significance of Khlebnikov for Kiefer as well as of Russian culture for German intellectuals and of German culture for Russian intellectuals.

Both Kiefer and Khlebnikov are a superpresence. It is a challenge to be present in time and space as you really are, to the fullest extent, no matter what»
Ivan Chechot

The first series of discussions were moderated by curator and art critic Dmitry Pilikin and art historian Olesya Turkina, where composers Vladimir Martynov and Dmitry Shubin, art historian Gleb Ershov and artist Mikhail Karasik, artist Ivan Govorkov, Larisa Grinberg from the National Center for Contemporary Arts (NCCA) and Grinberg Gallery director Vladimir Dudchenko discussed the art of Kiefer and Khlebnikov. Dmitry Shubin noted how the context of perception of certain symbols, such as the submarines present in Anselm Kiefer's paintings, changes over time. Vladimir Martynov called Kiefer the last great painter after Mark Rothko, who generates great meanings in painting after pop art, conceptualism, and the digital revolution.

What is the greatness of Khlebnikov and Kiefer? Both of them break through for the person. They go beyond the symbolic barrier with which, like red flags, a person limits himself. The composer John Cage also fits this company»
Vladimir Martynov
  • Larisa Grinberg, in a dialogue with Vladimir Dudchenko, suggested discussing practical issues: relevance, commercial success, symbolic capital, the ability to borrow someone else's symbolic capital. Greenberg noted that, in her opinion, the Russian avant-garde is the only influential period of Russian art on a global scale, but Khlebnikov's influence is limited, since he worked in the field of language. "Kiefer is inspired by a specific Russian poet who is close to him in a number of topics." In a conversation about commercial and symbolic success, the question of nationality often comes up, so the dialogue turned to the topic of nationality in art: “Kiefer, on the one hand, is a very German artist, and, on the other hand, he finds parallels in the art and literature of various nations and rhymes them in his practice." It was noted that the world is becoming a global village, where art is losing its nationality, but at the same time, art develops poorly if there is no national support. Dudchenko also noted that although Kiefer is an international and internationally intelligible artist, he is anyway rooted in a deep "Germanness" — once he withdraws into the international field in his work, there always follows a return to his own, nationally hardwired ideas.

The second series of discussions included artist Marina Koldobskaya and Alexey Boyko, Ph.D. in art history and researcher at the State Russian Museum; curators and art critics Lisa Savina and Andrey Parshikov; Vassily Uspensky, curator of graphic arts at the Western European Fine Arts Department of the State Hermitage Museum; and literary critic Andrey Rossomakhin. The moderators were Dmitrii Ozerkov, head of the Contemporary Art Department at the State Hermitage Museum, and Ilia Doronchenkov, professor of the Repin Saint-Petersburg State Academic Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

Lisa Savina and Andrei Parshikov's collaborative speech was an answer to the question of how Anselm Kiefer influenced contemporary Russian art.

Kiefer is an artist who has greatly influenced contemporary Russian art both visually and ideologically»
Lisa Savina

Among the Russian artists who at different times were influenced by Anselm Kiefer's visual paradigms they mentioned: Peter Belyi (Pinocchio Library project), Alexander Brodsky (Rotunda project), Valery Koshlyakov, Anatoly Belkin, Vitaly Pushnitsky, Pavel Otdelnov, Ilya Trushevsky and others. The question, "Is Russian Kiefer possible?" directed the conversation toward an analysis of whether there is a national component in the works of the German artist at all. "Kiefer doesn't live in Germany, and he hasn't exhibited there for many years. He doesn't broadcast 'Germanness,' so Russian Kiefer shouldn't live in Russia," said Dmitrii Ozerkov. "I wouldn't talk about national identity. Kiefer is more than national, he interprets history as a global fatalistic construct; he is close to Tolstoy in his perception of history — for him it is a magnitude he observes from the outside," Lisa Savina summed up.

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