June 14 through September 1, 2012

Palekh Icons: The Enchantment of Russian Painting

Icon Network > Events > Past Events > Palekh Icons: The Enchantment of Russian Painting

Saturday 9 June 2012, by Icon Network

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Since the 17th century, Palekh, a small town in Russia, was renowned as the focus of Russian Orthodox iconography. Tsars favored Palekh icons because of the preservation of “old Russian” style characterized by fine, miniature painting of architectural backdrops and landscapes, high quality workmanship and the heightened detail executed with narrative motifs.

The October Revolution, with its outspoken atheistic ideology, introduced a major setback to icon painting in Palekh and throughout Russia. The holy images and the artists who created them were considered hostile to the Communist regime and were subsequently persecuted or arrested. This radical social change forced the Palekh masters to rethink the pursuit of this art form and soon learned to maintain their livelihood and tradition by painting small objets d’art: papier-mâché boxes using the same principles they employed painting icons. These paintings symbolize themes from real life, fairy tales, Russian literary works and folk songs.

Works from the private collection of Berlin, Germany art dealer and restorer, Thomas Mönius and augmented with paintings from the Museum of Russian Icons collection, are showcased in this transformation of traditions in the new exhibition. Exhibition components from the Mönius collection include large and average-sized icons from the 18th and 19th century, some with unusual motifs. Examples of Palekh objets d’art like papier-mâché boxes are included in the exhibition.

Thomas Mönius is one of the leading international authorities on Russian and Greek icons dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries. He began his work in icon restoration 25 years ago, and for nearly 20 years has owned Ikonengalerie Mönius on the Kurfuerstendamm, one of the most fashionable avenues in Berlin. His gallery serves as a strategic collaborative for icon museums and enthusiasts worldwide. Many icons from his private collection have been exhibited in noteworthy European museums.

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Tuesday - Friday 11AM - 3PM
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Docent tours available.
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