Russian artist with
a Japanese soul,
at the Tretyakov
by Olga Slobodkina-von Bromssen
The Tretyakov Gallery opens a display of art works by
Varvara Bubnova (1886-1983), a well-known Russian artist.
She was born in St. Petersburg, into the noble family of Wolf,
who were friends of the poet Alexander Pushkin. After graduating
from the Emperor’s Academy of Arts, Bubnova started
her creative career in the circle of avant garde artists in St.
Petersburg. In 1913 she became a member of “The Union of
the Youth” art group and participated in exhibitions together
with such famous artists as Vladimir Mayakovsky, David Burlyuk,
Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova and Kazimir Malevich.
She translated from French the “Manifesto of the Futurists.”
From 1919-1922 Bubnova lived in Moscow and worked
for the Institute of Art Culture together with Vasily Kandinsky,
Robert Falk, Lubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova and Alexander
Rodchenko. In 1922 she went to Japan where she lived for
36 years. During that period she created mainly still-lifes and
lithographs, actively participating in the artistic and cultural
life there. She is still considered one of the best lithographers
of that country.
“It’s hard to understand the arts of other countries. They
are like foreign languages. One has to learn them to the same
degree when one can understand foreign speech. The understanding
of a foreign art is probably easier than learning
a language, but then the learner should have a big heart and
trust in the creative forces of another nation.” These words
belong to Varvara Bubnova and she was able to implement
this philosophy in her life. Living in Japan, Bubnova taught
Russian at universities and brought up quite a number of
Russian language specialists whom she also taught to understand
the spirit of the Russian culture. The most well-known
contemporary professors of Russian and translators into Russian
are among her students. In Japan, Bubnova was a real envoy
of Russian culture. She wrote stories about Russian art for
Japanese encyclopedias. From 1959-1979, Bubnova lived and
worked in the town of Sukhumi and at the age of 72 moved
back to Leningrad where
she died at the age of almost 97. The
artist lived a long and interesting
life leaving a lot of pupils
both in Russia and Japan.
In 1982 the Japanese government
awarded Bubnova with the order of the
Crown of the
degree for the development of the
cultural ties between
Japan and the USSR.
May 11-July 3.
Krymsky Val 10,
exhibition rooms 21-22
The current display is
of the artist’s black and white and
lithographs, watercolors and paintings—all in all about
70 works—from the collection of the Tretyakov Gallery and
the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.