Japanese

  St. Petersburg… the former capital of the Russian EmPire. One of the most beautiful cities in the world. Today it still has that imperial majesty, its architectural appearance marked by a rare integrity and fascinating beauty.
  The 1ong, tranquil avenues, the measured rhythm of the colonnades, the upward thrusting spires, the rounded domes and the horizontal granite embankments running along the River Neva form a Precious architectura1 setting in which one of the finest pearls is the Mikhail Palace, built during the first third of the 19th century. It is here, in the majestic suites of rooms in this marvellous palace, behind the strict classical facades, that we find the largest and most representative collection of Russian art not only in Russia itself but in the world.
  Man chooses different means of cognising his own history. Events are presented to us on the leaves of archive documents yellowed with age, through a logical chain of events built up in the pages of chronicles and learned treatises. But the reality of the past is probably best represented through the concrete objects to be found in museums. And the living soul of history, what we call the spirit of the times, is captured above all in collections in art museums and picture galleries, Looking at works of art, moving from room to room, the viewer seems to leaf through the pages of the past.


  Studying these pictures created by Russian artists at the turn of the 20th century, the attentive viewer is able to recreate through these few select works the spiritual context of this complex and contradictory period, to mull over the close inner contacts, the diffences and similarities, the indepence of two great, ancient cultures, Japanese and Russian.
  But for those less inclined towards such serious thoughts and generalizations the exhibition simply offers an opportunity to spend time pleasantly and fruitfully, for great art can be understood by all without the need for translators and interpreters.
  Here we have one of the most brilliant pages of the Russian avant-garde which remains unopened to the foreign viewer. Each morning for nearly a hundred years thousands of people of all ages and nationalities have passed through the state apartments of the museum, entering a very special world, far removed from the hurly burly outside, a world which contains the thousand years of the history of Russian fine art , the thousand years of Russian history. Every year the flow of visitors reaches around half a million, and each takes away with him something of the spiritual warmth which both the antists and the museum employees put into their work. We are very happy that, thanks to this exhibition, we shall have new freinds in distant− yet not so far removed from us−Japan.


Vladimk Gusev       
Director            
The State Russian Museum


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