Russia is a ‘reservoir’ of culture and art and the multiple galleries and museums that spread throughout its territory are a clear example of this. The State Tretyakov Gallery is an art gallery located in Moscow which is renowned for the exquisite exhibitions found within its walls.
The gallery officially came into being at the beginning of the 20thcentury, but its history goes back half a century. In 1856, Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, a Russian merchant, had begun collecting works of art signed by Russian artists that lived in his time. His goal was to acquire paintings, drawings and sculptures which would in time evolve to encompass a considerable number of works that represent the Russian national art in its different forms. The purpose was to put the basis of a museum.
Between 1856 and 1892, he dedicated his time to finding exquisite works of art, his collection reaching more or less 2.000 pieces at the end of this term – the collection comprised 1,362 paintings, 526 drawings and 9 sculptures.
It is no wonder that everyone was taken aback when faced with such an impressive assortment of works of art. Thus the construction of the Tretyakov Gallery was put into motion. The edifice to house the collection had to be worthy of the privilege it was bestowed on it. The façade of the structure was artistically created by Victor Vasnetsov, the painter who conferred a unique Russian fairy-tale architectural design to the gallery.
The construction work took only two years to be completed (from 1902 to 1904) and the site chosen for the gallery was near the Moscow Kremlin (to the south). But the gallery did not remained unchanged, on the contrary, expansion was underway and it can actually be said that in the 20th century the gallery experienced a ‘boom,’ having expended to encompass a number of adjacent buildings. Among these edifices was the Church of St. Nicholas in Tolmachi which dated from the 17th century.
At present, the Tretyakov Gallery is home to more than 130.000 pieces of art, one more valuable than the next. Just to name a few, ‘Trinity’ by Andrei Rublev, ‘Composition VII’ by Wassaily Kandinsky and ‘Black Square’ by Kazimir Malevich can be admired at the gallery.
But the Tretyakov Gallery is not solely a place where artistic pieces are on display. The institution also organizes various events which are in a way connected to culture. For instance in 2012, the gallery was the site of the famous FIDE World Chess Championship which was disputed among Vishwanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand. There might be some voices to disagree with this type of events taking place inside the gallery but there has to be underlined that culture comprises several segments and chess might just be one of them. It is in effect a form of art, especially when discussing it at the level at which it is played in the championship. Not to mention that the event attracted two types of audiences, those interested in fine arts and chess lovers.
1985 marks an important year in the history of the Tretyakov Gallery this being the moment when the gallery merged with a gallery of contemporary art, but solely from an administrative point of view. The latter gallery still kept the position it occupied to the south of the Crimean Bridge. This addition was quite important for the museum as it consisted of an important collection of sculptures which were representative for Socialist Realism.
In close proximity of the gallery of contemporary art tourists can admire sculptures which have been ‘exiled,’ so to speak. The statuettes are representative for the Soviet Union and when the URSS had fallen, every reminder of that time had to be erased. But the sculptures were not destroyed; they were relocated in this garden which comprised the remnants of a fallen regime.
Those who visit the State Tretyakov Gallery will not regret their decision because they will have the chance to admire unique works of art, some of them having been created more than a century ago.