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Peredvizhniki

  • Date Submitted: 04/02/2014 09:36 AM
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Peredvizhniki (Itinerants or Wanderers).
From the mid-eighteenth century, the Russian school of painting and sculpture had been controlled by the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. In the relatively liberal atmosphere of Alexander II's "Great Reforms," there was growing discontent among some artists with the traditionally conservative attitude of the Academy of Arts. In 1863, a group of students at the Academy rebelled at the proposed topic for the annual Gold Medal painting competition: "The Entrance of Odin into Valhalla." They felt that this mythological fantasy was too remote from the real life of Russia that, they believed, demanded their artistic attention. Thirteen painters and one sculptor resigned from the Academy. Soon after they withdrew from the Academy, these "Thirteen Contestants" formed an Artists' Cooperative Society. In 1870, they formed the "Society for Traveling Art Exhibitions," and the painters became known as "Peredvizhniki" (in English, they are known as "Wanderers" or "Travelers" or "Itinerants." ThePeredvizhniki committed themselves to populist themes painted in an accessible realist style and believed their art might serve as a vehicle for social reform and promote the development of a national consciousness. Although the leaders of the Peredvizhniki were conscious of European movements, their own agenda was a Russian one. Among their constant themes were the Russian peasantry, the Russian landscape, and the Russian clergy. But thePeredvizhniki were progressive not only in the subjects they chose to paint, but also in the way they reached their audience. Earlier, significant art exhibitions had been limited to Moscow and St. Petersburg, but now the artists who allied themselves with this traveling group had the opportunity to reach a much wider audience than they would have earlier. The creation of an art tradition depends, of course, not only on how art is created, but how it is preserved, displayed, and received by current and...

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