Icons of Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection


Just the thought of seeing even half of Sergei Shchukin’s iconic art collection amassed in one place sent me reeling when I read about the current exhibit in Paris. Never having traveled to St. Petersburg’s Hermitage or Moscow’s Pushkin Museums, and only catching glimpses of Shchukin’s Matisse masterpieces at the Los Angeles County Musuem many years ago, I thought I might never experience the fullness of his collecting vision until Anne Baldassari, curator of the current exhibit at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, broke the ice and persuaded Shchukin’s descendants, as well as Russia’s museum directors, to release his remarkable collection. And, thanks to Bernard Arnault, Fondation d’enterprise Louis Vuitton’s President, who financed this extraordinary exhibit, thousands of visitors can now witness the chronology of modern art’s trajectory via one man’s collecting genius.

c1224aaf5bd1ece73318c2f566bb0845Shchukin, a wealthy textile industrialist, whose biography encompasses both personal tragedy and Russia’s historic political upheavals, only collected from 1898-1914, filling the walls of his Trubetskoy Palace from top to bottom, frame crowding frame on the packed walls of the palace. At the Foundation 130 works are on display, including multiple Monets, Gauguins, Cézannes, Picassos, Degas and Matisses, so many iconic images leading from Cézanne to Russian Suprematism in 50 short years, and all because Shchukin opened his galleries to his artist countrymen at his palatial home. Malevich, Goncharova, Rodchenko, Popova and others had never witnessed Impressionism, Fauvism or Cubism first-hand in all their glory; their artistic lives were changed forever.

But, after a chronological and thematic art display experience at the Fondation (enhanced by quotes from disbelieving, quizzical Russian art critics and photos of Shchukin’s Trubetskoy Palace’s art-filled walls) I recommend dashing back into the basement galleries to catch a glimpse, once more, of Monet’s “Woman in the Garden,” his “Dejeuner sur l’herbe,” and “Houses of Parliament” fronted by delicate seagulls gliding through fog, before you say goodbye. Our Parisian sojourn, expressly to see this iconic collection, is one I shall never forget. Go if you can. Closes February 20, 2017.




Linda Viertel


One Response to “Icons of Modern Art: The Shchukin Collection”

  1. Good news – It has been extended to March 5th. I so hope to see it…great review…I hear nothing but applause.

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