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About the unknown Montparnasse, say a word. New book by Alec Epstein


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MOSCOW. The publishing house «Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie» published a book by the culturologist Alec D. Epstein «Forgotten Heroes of Montparnasse».

For graduates of the Russian Academy of Arts, the best way to encourage their talent was a retirement trip to Italy. Despite the impressive expenditure, there was no doubt about the expediency of such a scholarship to study the masterpieces of painting, sculpture, architecture. The scholarship holders could have spent three to six years in the homeland of Michelangelo and Raphael, receiving considerable lifts and annuals.

New trends in painting and sculpture, a departure from academism also influenced geographic preferences. By the end of the XIX century the place of attraction for the representatives of bohemia from different corners of the globe was the Parisian region of Montparnasse. Artists, inspired by the revolutionary works of innovators (Impressionists, Symbolists, Post-Impressionists, Pointillists), now sought to get to the French capital, the atmosphere of which favored the birth of new art. Here you could learn a lot in numerous private schools and find a chance for a successful career.

Students of one of the most famous - Julian Academy - were Henri Matisse, Felix Vallotton, Eduard Vuillard, Emil Nolde, Marcel Duchamp, Alphonse Mucha, Eugene Lansere, Alexander Kuprin, Lev Bakst, Peter Konchalovsky, Igor Grabar. The branch at rue du Vivienne opened its doors to women who had previously been deprived of the opportunity to study painting because of the sanctimonious rules of state educational institutions that prevented female representatives from attending classes with nudity. Among the students of Academie Julian were Anna Golubkina, Maria Bashkirtseva, Anna Bilinskaya, Paula Moderson-Becker, Kete Kolvitz. Training without a drill and strict discipline among famous artists, the need to take an inestimable for most foreigners exam in French, with the opportunity to participate in exhibitions.

It was no longer necessary for young artists to count on financial support from the state. A lot of talented, but not too wealthy people helped the generosity of the sculptor Alfred Boucher, the creator of the famous phalanx for the creative bohemian «La Ruche». Literators and artists found support, shelter and opportunities for work here, practically without paying for it.

Culturologist Aleksei D. Epstein in the book «Forgotten Heroes of Montparnasse», published by the publishing house «Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie» (The New Literary Review), tells about the fate of talented artists who came from the Russian Empire, mostly of Jewish origin. About those who managed to succeed, and those who were waiting for the sad ending, death during the Holocaust or departure to an undeserved shadow. Epstein also remembers those who substituted the shoulder for geniuses and losers: about Sergei Diaghilev, Gertrude Stein, Bertha Weil, Sergei Shchukin, Maxim Vinaver and many others.


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