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Culture news, 29.12.2004 14:39

The Christmas Present

Christmas Present On 21 December 2004 an exhibition in the series called The Christmas Present opened in Room 152 of the Winter Palace. The exhibition features the results of a joint project between Hermitage and the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory which attracted participation by contemporary Russian artists. A similar program was carried out at the factory at the beginning of the 20th century and led to the creation of outstanding porcelain objects by Malevich, Kandinsky, Petrov-Vodkin, Kustodiev and Matveev.

The art project of 2004 took place over five months from June to October and its culmination is the current display of the original works in the State Hermitage. More than 50 well known contemporary artists from Petersburg, Moscow and Germany took part in the project: Zaven Arshakuni, Leonid Borisov, Olga and Alexander Florensky, Zurab Tsereteli, Nikas Safronov, Natalya Savinova, Svetlana Platonova, Vasily Golubev, Anatoly Belkin, Rashid Dominov, Mikhail Kopylkov, Inna Olevskaya, Vladimir Tsivin, Alexander Zadorin, Vladimir Zatorov, and others. Most of them worked in the factory ateliers and production lines, where they received materials and technical advice on working with porcelain. Those who were dealing with porcelain for the first time had their works fired by qualified masters of the Lomonosov Factory.

The project resulted in the creation of more than 1,000 separate porcelain objects, of which more than 300 have been put on display in this final exhibition in the Hermitage. Among the display items are traditional porcelain table service of classical as well as avant-garde forms, sculptures and vases, decorative dishes and platters, compositions consisting of several objects and installations, decorative ornaments, as well as a whole assortment of original objects. There is unusual diversity and emotional intensity in the painting applied to the porcelain. It reflects a broad rànge of creative art by participants in the project. One can also see at the exhibition new works on the subject of the ballet Nutcracker which Mikhail Shemyakin has created for the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory.

In his foreword to the exhibition catalogue, director of the State Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky makes the following comments:

"The collaboration between the State Hermitage and the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory is developing very quickly. The Christmas Exhibition in the Winter Palace this year is really something quite novel - the combined result of work side by side by professional painters on porcelain, the very pride of the factory, and some of the most interesting artists of Russia, who never before dealt with porcelain...Our art of porcelain production won over new admirers and adepts who will now hardly turn their backs on porcelain as a medium for artistic expression. The Christmas Exhibition in the Hermitage, which is traditional and conservative, thereby acquires a new dimension. It creates a new audience for the factory and also new ways of influencing the production at the factory. Our collaboration is yielding splendid fruit.

"Our joy over these results is diminished only by the sad news of the tragic and untimely death of one of the exhibition’s initiators, Tamara Vasilievna Kudryavtseva. The exhibition is dedicated to her memory.

"Art today, as in every other age, develops thanks to traditions, even if it denies them. The experiment at the porcelain factory has again put this fine mechanism to work. A divine material like porcelain demands full dedication from those who work in the medium, as well as a high level of technical mastery and refined taste. We are delighted that so many artists possess this gift."

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