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Sculptors and livre d’artiste

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The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts presents an exhibition of artworks by the world’s most prominent sculptors in livre d’artiste publications. The exposition includes 22 livre d’artiste objects by 15 famous sculptors: Arman, Jean Arp, Michel Guinot, Alberto Giacometti, Alexander Calder, Henri Laurens, Aristide Maillol, Marino Marini, Henry Moore, Mimmo Paladino, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Auguste Rodin, Eduardo Chillida, Hristo, and Ossip Zadkine. Along with livre d’artiste publications, visitors will have an opportunity to see the masters’ sculptures and see that in many cases, the works of sculpture are stylistically similar to prints made by the same masters. Most of the exposition items are provided courtesy of the collectors Georgy Gens and Boris Friedman.

    • It is well known that sculptors are great graphic artists. While planning a future artwork, a sculptor studies various versions of it on paper in three dimensions within a drawing plane. A line is something that joins a drawing and a sculpture together. The preparation process of livre d’artiste publications, including elaboration of sheets, covers, cases, the principle of print positioning, and the art of typography, resembles the creation of a sculpture.
    • The exhibition “Sculptors and Livre D’Artiste” opens with artworks by the most prominent sculptors of the first half of the 20th century: Auguste Rodin and Aristide Maillol. It is no surprise to see so many nude figures in their graphical series of livre d’artiste publications. One of the first livre d’artiste works was Octave Mirbeau’s novel “Le Jardin des Supplices” with colorful lithographies by Rodin, published by Ambroise Vollard in 1902.
    • The next section is dedicated to sculptors Henri Laurens and Ossip Zadkine. Visitors will see two livre d’artiste objects with illustrations made by Henri Laurens during his cubist period. Interestingly, the etched image in the book “Les Pélican,” published in 1921, is similar to the master’s sculpture made during the same period. Ossip Zadkine’s works are represented by three livre d’artiste publications made in various styles and techniques. The lithography series is dedicated to Heracles’ heroics, while his etchings for Guillaume Apollinaire’s “Calligrammes” can be seen as his unique comment on the poet’s piece.
    • Artworks by Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti can be found in a separate exhibition space. The publication “Elephant Skull” with Henry Moore’s beautiful etchings is of particular interest. The etchings were inspired by an elephant skull that was once presented to the sculptor. Alberto Giacometti’s lithography series dedicated to his sketches of Parisian views is especially impressive. It was published after Giacometti’s death and remains the artist’s hymn to his favorite city.
    • Livre d’artiste works by Michel Guinot and Eduardo Chillida are new to Russian viewers. Chillida’s graphics will be presented in Russia for the first time. The most prominent Spanish sculptor of the 20th century, Chillida created many livre d’artiste works—more than 20 graphic series. The exposition includes his first and last livre d’artiste publications. Michel Guinot’s graphic series is known to the Russian public from the exhibition “Iliazd. Ilya Zdanevich’s 20th Century. From Holdings of Russian and French museums” that took place at the State Museum of Fine Arts in 2015. The master’s sculptures will be exhibited for the first time.
    • Artworks by Jean Arp and Alexander Calder are also exhibited together. Colorfulness and fantasy are distinctive features of these artists, both in graphics and sculptures. Calder’s livre d’artiste works are being exhibited at the Museum for the first time.
    • Livre d’artiste publications illustrated by Italian sculptors Marino Marini, Mimmo Paladino, and Arnaldo Pomodoro constitute another section of the exhibition. Their graphical cycles have the easily recognizable style of their sculptures. These include horses and horsemen on Marini’s sheets, Paladino’s variety of technical and visual methods, and Pomodoro’s abstract geometry. For the exhibited livre d’artiste publications of Paladino and Pomodoro, special sculpture works were created and embedded in the cases of the publications.
    • The last section is dedicated to Arman and Hristo. Like the livre d’artiste publications by Paladino and Pomodoro, Arman’s publication contains a sculpture—parts of a wristwatch in a piece of plexiglass. A unique feature of the exhibit is a composition that Hristo created as a gift to art historian Jacob Baal-Teshuva, who wrote a number of books about the master’s works. It is the edition of The New York Times newspaper that was issued on Baal-Teshuva’s birthday, wrapped in polyethylene and tied with a rope. This could be the only small-scale original artwork by Hristo, who is famous for wrapping buildings, bridges, and other large objects with cloth.
    • Boris Friedman, curator and collector:
    • What drew sculptors to create graphic series for livre d’artiste publications? What do these seemingly different types of arts have in common? Trying to understand this phenomenon, I came to see that there is a shared nature in the creation of sculptures and livre d’artiste works: a publication is constructed as a virtual sculptural object. The naturalness and rationality of this combination in sculptors’ works gave me the idea of another exhibition that would demonstrate both the originality of their graphics in livre d’artiste and the consistency of such artworks with the character and style of their sculptures.
    • Marina Loshak, Director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts:
    • Our museum pays special attention to the livre d’artiste genre. Over the last few years, we have done seven projects to introduce viewers to the most famous masters of this art form. “Sculptors and Livre D’Artiste” is our first exhibition where only sculptors’ artworks are demonstrated. Its conceptual feature is the combination of publications and sculptures of the same authors in one exposition.

A special catalog was prepared for the exhibition opening with detailed descriptions and images of all exhibited artworks. It contains an article about a previously unknown manuscript by Ossip Zadkine dating back to 1945, including parts of the text and their translation into Russian.

The exhibition project also includes an educational program consisting of lectures and meetings with famous art historians, sculptors, artists, and publishers. A number of round tables with experts are planned during the exhibition as well, along with film viewings. The curator, artists, and art historians will hold special events in the exhibition halls to share their perception of livre d’artiste works by sculptors.

Partners and Sponsors

General partner of 19th and 20th Century European and American Art
General sponsor of the exhibition
Informational partner
Professional informational partner