Alexandre Benois: a bridge between writers and artists

Alexandre Benois: a bridge between writers and artists

2023-06-04 20:23:22

Mikhail Seslavinsky gathered under one cover the whole world of an outstanding illustrator

On June 4, in Moscow, at one of the venues of the Red Square festival, Mikhail Seslavinsky presented an album about the life and work of Alexander Benois. The book turned out to be large-scale and attracted the attention of readers: there was nowhere for an apple to fall at its presentation in the center of the capital.

“The Book World of Alexander Benois” – this is the name given to the capital work of a public figure, researcher of book graphics and collector of rare editions Mikhail Seslavinsky. Genre novelty should be designated as an album, since the illustrative component in it occupies no less important place than the narrative one. Opening the meeting, which brought together up to a hundred Benois connoisseurs, Seslavinsky lamented that the book could not be released in 2020, on the 150th anniversary of the birth of the outstanding illustrator: the covid prevented. But even three years later, a new significant date was found: 125 years since the creation of the creative association “World of Art”.

– Alexander Nikolayevich created a bridge between writers and artists. During Pushkin’s lifetime, there were five or six illustrations for his works. Gogol did not like illustrations. And Benois had an important concept: books should exist together with illustrations,” Mikhail Seslavinsky described the revolution that took place more than a century ago by the hero of his book.

“I myself am a collector,” Seslavinsky admitted to his own second-hand weakness. And he revealed the main milestones in the fate of Benois: the “imperial” period, when the painter created the legendary illustrations for Pushkin’s poem “The Bronze Horseman”, first rejected by the “fools bibliophiles” from among his contemporaries, and then became a classic. Then there was a period when the artist tried to “befriend the Soviet authorities” and do something for the masses, supplying his works to the “People’s Library” series as part of cooperation with the literary and publishing department of the People’s Commissariat for Education. And, finally, the life of the genius of the Silver Age in exile. Just at that time, Benois began to be treated with caution in his homeland, calling him “a typical representative of the reactionary and anti-popular trends of decadent bourgeois art.”

In addition, Seslavinsky explained what Benoit is grateful for. The fact is that after the events of 1905, when censorship was abolished in the Russian Empire, “the Russian intelligentsia begins to race to dig its own grave”, publishing caricatures of the existing system and the royal family.

“I did not find any such satirical work,” the researcher stated.

Seslavinsky also said that he included in his brainchild a solid selection of books from Benois’ personal library, equipped with a mass of notes from their owner:

He read with a pencil in his hands. And the books themselves have become objects of culture.

The most memorable “mirror” of the biography was the volume “Gogol in the Circle of Artists”. He entered Benois in July 1959, about which there is a corresponding inscription.

“There are comments on every page. And suddenly they break off on the 102nd page. Benois died on February 9, 1960 in Paris. I think this is the last book that he had in his hands,” said Mikhail Vadimovich.

And in the end, he showed on the screen a photograph signed on the back: Alexander Nikolaevich Benois a few days before his death.

“Look into those eyes,” Seslavinsky urged. “They reflect the entire history of Russian art.”

#Alexandre #Benois #bridge #writers #artists


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News

Editor's Pick