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Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall... Who Is The Fairest of Them All?

Texts by Alevtina Kalinina

irrors and reflections have frightened and fascinated people since ancient times.

For the self-loving Narcissus of Greek mythology, the reflective surface of water was actually an instrument of self-knowledge and self-actualization. The splinters of the trolls’ mirror altered Kai’s views dramatically in the fairy-tale of the Snow Queen. The theme of mirrors and reflections comes up time and time again in literature, and painters with their innate interest in colours and lighting have long been aware of the way that mirrors can be used to change the environment. The current exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery makes it possible to look at mirrors through artists’ eyes.

Presenting the works of artists from Venetsianov to Infante, the curators of the exhibition also draw our attention to the changing role of this simple reflecting surface depending on the epoch, the artists’ taste and the social environment. Thus, mirrors at the beginning of the 19th century live their quiet lives as decorations along with portraits of ancestors and chandeliers. For painters of the second half of the 19th century, mirrors became important because they were a characteristic part of interiors. With the advent of Art Nouveau, more mysticism appeared in compositions with mirrors.

Until 21st of February
State Tretyakov Gallery, 10, Krymsky Val
Open: 10:00 – 19:00, Thursday – till 22:00,
except Mondays  

Take a look at ‘In the room’ by A. Korin, for example. For Korovin, Kuznetsov, Gerasimov, a mirror is a perfect tool to show more nuances with colour in the bloom of flowers in their still-lifes. For masters like Altman and Puni, these are mirrors that divide life into the real and unreal. Infante creates impressive artefacts on completely different surfaces with the help of strips of mirror so that is no longer possible to guess in which world you have found yourself.

Naum Granovsky: photo chronicles of Moscow

They often call Naum Granovsky a photo chronicler of Moscow. His career began in the 1920s and it is very much linked to the political development of the USSR. At the age of 16 he came to Moscow from Ukraine and was lucky to find a job at the State News Agency — TASS. For more than fifty years he managed to capture the history of Moscow: from the 1930s when there were still very few cars in the streets and many two- or three-storey buildings, to the new Stalinist city with its granite embankments, spacious avenues and of course metro stations. Then there is Moscow during WW II: antiaircraft guns on the roofs, noiseless blimps and later Victory parades. The 1950s is the decade of neo-classical architecture with the construction of the seven vysotkas. The whole evolution of Moscow

Until February 18
Lumiere Brothers’ Gallery, 10, Krymsky Val
Open: 10:00 – 19:00, except Monday

is methodically and minutely preserved in Granovsky’s pictures. News stories of those different decades reveal forgotten facets of life. The exhibition at the Lumiere brothers’ gallery provides extremely precise material for those who are interested in the history of Moscow and the history of photography itself, as Granovsky’s name can deservedly be found on the same list as his European colleagues of the same epoch.

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