A large-scale two-part project “Gothic Enlightenment” was opened at the A.V. Shchusev State Museum of Architecture and the In artibus Foundation from April 28 to July 30. The jubilee Year of Vasily Bazhenov”, dedicated to the 280 anniversary of the birth of the great Russian architect.
More than 140 works, including graphics, painting, sculpture, decorative and applied art, historical artifacts and videos, will be presented to the audience at both venues and conditionally divide the exposition into seven parts. The works of the great architect at the exhibition will be complemented by the works of such famous architects and artists as Matvey Kazakov, Giacomo Quarenghi, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn, etc.
In the Museum of Architecture, the exhibition project will occupy six halls of the main suite in parallel with two halls of the permanent exhibition, where a model of the Grand Kremlin Palace created by Bazhenov in the 70s of the XVIII century.
The first viewer is greeted by the section “Propylaea”. It reveals a fan of possible interpretations of the theme “Gothic taste” in the age of Enlightenment. Interior of the Gothic Cathedral (painting Emanuel de Witte) will be adjacent to the Rembrandt view of old Amsterdam, which, in turn, rhymes with panoramas of ancient Russian cities. The same section introduces a plot about the theater (the theatrical scenery of Vasily Bazhenov during the Parisian apprenticeship), about the paraphrase of jousting tournaments — high-society carousels, as well as the theme of Gothic melancholy in the cult of ruins on Piranesi engravings.
According to the logic of the movement, the viewer continues to get acquainted with the “Gothic taste” in the “Residence” section. Its halls will become like the wrong side of the Kremlin utopia. The viewer will see palaces designed by Vasily Bazhenov and Matvey Kazakov precisely in the “Gothic taste”, including elements of Renaissance, Mannerist and Palladian planning schemes. In the center of attention is the panorama of the Tsaritsyno residence (1776) created by Bazhenov. Some rare sheets of the Moscow architectural school of classicism are being shown for the first time. They introduce how the specific motifs of the old Russian architecture of the Kremlin were interpreted in the new secular buildings. In the same section there are dimensional drawings of Tsaritsyn, filigreed by Soviet architects of the 1950s.
The “Temple” section completes the suite. Its exhibits are unique evidence of the search for the image of the ideal church in the culture of the Enlightenment age.
In the In artibus Foundation, the viewer is greeted by the section “Russian Gothic”. The foundation’s space will be transformed into a square, the center of which will be the Kremlin cathedrals and the Ivan the Great Bell Tower from the model of the Grand Kremlin Palace by Vasily Bazhenov. The exhibits around form a kind of panorama. Since the concept of “Gothic” was mobile, when depicting ancient Russian tsars, princes and heroes, artists focused on the canons of the theater.
Theatrical culture, stage rhetoric, metaphors, symbols become part of the exposition in the In artibus Foundation. In the perspective corridors of the hall at the entrance we see two portraits: Vasily Bazhenov with his family (1780s) and Catherine II during the coronation in the Assumption Cathedral of the Kremlin on September 22, 1762 (1777). Both compositions fit into the panegyric theatrical tradition. The dialogue of the two heroes of the enlightened performance in the “Gothic taste” is being built. Pointing to the plans of his creations, architect Bazhenov is addressed to Empress Catherine. In the big picture, she takes the monarch’s crown in the heart of “Gothic Russia” — the Assumption Cathedral of the Kremlin. At the same time, the ceremony itself, the architecture of the cathedral are corrected by Torelli under the influence of theatrical plots of the XVIII century. So two sections are introduced, “Empress” and “Architect”.
Theatrical symbolism defines the final section of the exhibition “Tournament”. Engravings and sculptures of the XVIII — first half of the XIX century resurrect the image of imperial holidays, which became popular in the era of Catherine II, horse carousels. Their prototype was the jousting tournaments of the “Gothic times”. In the age of Enlightenment, carousels became a mirror in which culture sought to contemplate its ceremonial reflection.
The expositions of both sites feature works from the collections of the A.V. Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, the In artibus Foundation, the State Historical Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the A. A. Bakhrushin State Central Theater Museum, the Tsaritsyno State Museum-Reserve, the Dmitrovsky Kremlin Museum-Reserve, the Russian State Library and from private collections.
A catalog in Russian and English will be prepared for the opening of the project. The exhibition will host a rich educational program, including a round table, lectures, excursions, film screenings and much more.