Barbarians preferred depicting Masks, — for pure artistic enjoyment and also to scare off hostile forces. Christians painted Icons, and the main subject of their art became episodes from Old and New Testaments.
In the Renaissance these two stylistic approaches reached their summit: the profound achievement of Christian art was the undeniable integrity of a human being created in God’s image. But gradually faces of artists’ contemporaries and neighbors were discerned on Icons. For the world’s greatest artists the light was most important, and the light was divine, it converted Faces into Icons.
Sometime after the French Revolution, the divine light started flickering, and Faces overtook Icons — first noble and majestic, then folksy and relatable, the whole multiform spectrum of humanity emerged in art.
But the 20th century made art shudder: Icons, Faces and Masks clashed. The Christian culture was wounded massively, but did not die, so that “A lot of magical changes of a dear face,” as Afanasy Fet, a 19th century Russian poet, postulated, became the new subject of art. Both in literature and painting, though also in our everyday life we excitedly observed how Faces turned into Masks, but still sometimes into Icons.
We find a large spectrum of visages ranging from the sacred to the profane in our museum's collection. The Sixtiers (1960s artists), whose work we call “the Soviet Renaissance,” knew quite a bit about them. But where do we look for Icons? In Hieromonk Domaskin's volumes on New Russian Martyrs? Or, perhaps, in a certain light a great artist’s Face can turn into a semblance of an Icon?
At our exhibition, Icons, Faces and Mugs will look into the eyes of each other and the visitors in the 21st century.
The exhibition features more than 70 works by 1960s and contemporary artists: Anatoly Zverev, Dmitry Krasnopevtsev, Dmitry Plavinsky, Vladimir Yakovlev, Vladimir Yankilevsky, Oleg Tselkov, Mikhail Shemyakin, Leonid Kropivnitsky, Mikhail Shpindler, Boris Sveshnikov and Vyacheslav Kalinin, Eduard Steinberg, Leonid Purygin, Ivan Lubennikov, Natalia Nesterova, Leonid Rotar, Natalia Turnova, Grigory Bruskin and photographs of artists captured by Anatoly Brusilovsky and Igor Palmin.
AZ Museum Director — Natalia Opaleva
Author and curator — Polina Lobachevskaya
Production designer — Anatoly Golyshev
Media artist — Platon Infante
We recommend travelling to Mayakovskaya metro station. The walk to the AZ Museum will take around five minutes. After leaving the station, turn first to the right into the alley, then moving forward, at the first intersection, turn left to 2nd Tverskaya-Yamskaya street. Walk a few meters. AZ Museum will be on your right.
There are paid parking spaces on either side of 2nd Tverskaya-Yamskaya street or in the nearest alleys. Parking is limited, and on weekends and public holidays, the parking lots may be full.