Space For Rent
Sunday, January 31, 2016, Magh 18, 1422 BS, Rabius Sani 19, 1437 Hijri

Record crowds brave Moscow cold for blockbuster show
Published :Sunday, 31 January, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 24
Although little known in the West, Valentin Serov-a Russian fin-de-si?cle artist famous for his portraits of artists, aristocrats and tsars-is beloved in Russia. The artist's exhibition at Moscow's State Tretyakov Gallery marking the 150th anniversary of his birth has been drawing crowds ever since it opened in October. But even the most die-hard Serov fans will have been surprised at the passion the show inspired in Moscow museum-goers who stood in line for hours in subzero temperatures last week and quite literally beat down the doors of the museum.
Last Saturday, the museum announced that due to popular demand the show would be extended through 31 January (it had already been prolonged once before). But six works from foreign museums will be missing in the extended run, including Madame Lwoff (1895), a portrait of the artist's cousin, from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Over 100 paintings and 150 graphic works from the Tretyakov and on loan from two dozen Russian and four foreign museums as well as private collections have been on display. A mock-up of a proscenium curtain completed by the artist in 1911 for a Ballet Russes production of Scheherazade is also on show.
Zelfira Tregulova, the general director of the Tretyakov, told reporters on Sunday that 440,000 museum-goers had already attended the Serov show, making it the most visited Tretyakov Gallery exhibition in the past half-century and possibly "an absolute record number in the history of exhibitions in the USSR and Russia."
The more caustic commentators credited a visit by President Vladimir Putin on 18 January for drawing a new wave of Serov lovers. He was shown on state television touring the exhibition with Tregulova and Vladimir Medinsky, Russia's culture minister, and commenting on Serov with detailed knowledge of the artist's childhood. He also discussed a popular internet meme that was inspired by the exhibition's popularity. Putin, viewing Serov's paintings of Alexander III and Nicholas II, compared Serov to Diego Vel?zquez, the Spanish court painter.
Serov, however, had complicated relations with the Russian court. He had artistic differences with Empress Alexandra over a portrait of Nicholas II and quit the Imperial Academy of Arts after Tsarist forces shot demonstrators on Bloody Sunday in 1905.
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