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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Group 301-401 (Evening): The Art of Russia, Part Two

This episode is entitled, "Roads to Revolution." Today (November 13) we will finish this episode and begin part three. Here is the whole video and all of our discussion questions.



Discussion questions:
  1. According to Andrew Graham-Dixon, St Petersburg was part of a great cultural project to do what?
  2. Elizabeth I left her mark on Russian culture--in what way?
  3. “A distinctly Russian feeling of excess” ... what is Graham-Dixon referring to?
  4. If you wanted to experience the “full baroque blast” of Peterhof, where would you go? What does Graham-Dixon mean by Elizabeth’s “Midas touch”?
  5. On the ceiling of her ballroom, Elizabeth had herself painted in whose company?
  6. Who made possible the luxurious life of the elites, according to the narrator? [Judy would add: How did the Russian system differ from classical feudalism?]
  7. What is meant by “a hand-to-mouth existence”?
  8. Did the condition of the rural working class improve or worsen under the reign of Catherine the Great?
  9. “And artists too had to endure their own form of servitude.” What does Graham-Dixon mean?
  10. “Utterly competent, completely derivative”--what is Graham-Dixon asserting about the Russian academic painters?
  11. By the beginning of the 1840’s, “Russian culture was on the brink of a momentous change.” How did writers lead this change?
  12. Why did the censor not allow Fedotov to publish his pictures in the form of engravings or lithographs?
  13. What were some of the Wanderers’ favorite subjects?
  14. What made the Wanderers, as landscape painters, different from the Impressionists of western Europe?
  15. What was Repin's childhood like? Did it affect his art?
  16. In the painting “Religious Procession in Kursk,” is there something--other than his disability--that makes the boy on crutches stand out from the crowd? Is that a clue about Repin himself?
  17. Which of his own pictures did Repin not allow the public to see?
  18. What was the “intensely political purpose” of Repin’s house?
  19. What meaningful detail does Graham-Dixon point out in Repin’s painting of the barge-haulers? Why is it meaningful, according to the narrator?
  20. Graham-Dixon says that the chapel at Abramtsevo represents a “moment of reconnection with Orthodox Christianity”. Is “reconnection” an accurate way to describe it?
  21. What do you think of Graham-Dixon’s portrayal of Vrubel as a kind of “dark prophet”? Was Vrubel’s final Demon truly prophetic?
  22. What questions did Graham-Dixon say were key at the beginning of the 20th century? At the beginning of the 21st century, do you think these questions are less important, more important, or just as important?
  23. Graham-Dixon states that “ancient structures of power had not changed since Peter the Great.” By saying this, he is dismissing Tsar Alexander II’s reforms. In your opinion, was he misleading by leaving that out, or did Alexander II’s reforms leave the power structures essentially unchanged? (hint: I don’t know)
  24. What was the “Hippopotamus”?
  25. In what ways did the city of Moscow inspire Kandinsky? Do you think Pavel Tretyakov had any role in this?
  26. What is Kandinsky’s “Composition No. 7” foretelling his audience?
  27. Speaking of his “Black Square,” how did Malevich respond to his critics? What could he do that they could not?

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