Pictures at an Exhibition: A Printmaking Suite
April 5th – June 17th, 2019
The suite of prints exhibited here in the Wikoff Student Gallery spring from a collaboration with Stefan Kießling, a visiting musician from Germany, and the students in the Printmaking: Relief course taught in the Visual Arts Department by Senior Lecturer, Sandy Wimer.
The collaboration centered around Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. The students listened to the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra playing the most well-known and recorded arrangement for orchestra by Maurice Ravel. Each student was assigned one of the ten movements or one of the four intermezzi “promenades,” and was asked to listen carefully to their piece. They then made sketches and created multi-colored relief prints in response to what they heard. Some chose to illustrate their pieces literally, and others chose to take their listening to another space with impressionistic responses.
Originally composed in 1874 as a furiously difficult piano solo, Pictures at an Exhibition is Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s most famous work, and a tribute to his friend and compatriot, Viktor Hartmann. Initially the piece was ill-received by colleagues, leading Mussorgsky to decide against publishing it during his own lifetime. It has since become regarded as a work of musical genius, known around the world as one of the most celebrated compositions in the classical music canon.
In contrast, the majority of Hartmann’s artworks and architectural drawings have been lost to time. Hartmann studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg. His work consisted mostly of watercolors and pencil drawings of journeys abroad during the years 1864 – 1868. However, Hartmann was part of a movement that helped engender a Russian folk style that idealized the life of the peasant and the country’s native architecture.
Both Mussorgsky and Hartmann were Russian nationalists who worked to solidify a thoroughly Russian identity in music and art, respectively. When Hartmann died suddenly in 1873 due to a brain aneurysm, the grief-stricken Mussorgsky allegedly composed Pictures at an Exhibition in a few feverish months after attending a large retrospective of Hartmann’s work. Intended perhaps as a grand, memento mori to other nationalists of the day, intensified by the fear of a future Westernizing of Russian art forms, the success of Pictures at an Exhibition endures as a tribute to the Russian identity in both music and art.
The collaboration between Kießling and the printmaking class will culminate in a concert at Memorial Chapel on Friday, April 5th at 7 pm. Kießling will play Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on the pipe organ, while the students’ work is projected on the stage. Following the concert, there will be an opening reception at the Nott Memorial from 8:00 – 9:30 pm. Please join us for light refreshments and a chance to meet the organist and the artists. The concert, reception, and exhibition are all free and open to the public.
Artists include: Erin Besch (’19), Miles Bigelow (’19), Caitlin Buchanan (’20), Lauren Capron (’19), Matthew Caulfield (’19), Ava Disavino (’21), Sophia Gebara (’19), Zihan He (’19), Jennifer Mutch (’21), Maya Newell (’19), Pamela Rice (’19), Sophie Shapiro (’19), and Eleanor Vaughan (’20).
Funding for the reception was provided through an Intellectual Enrichment Grant from the Office of Minerva Programs. Photograph of artwork courtesy of Frank Rapant.
Friday, April 5th, 2019
Stefan Kießling will perform Pictures at an Exhibition on the pipe organ, while the students’ artwork is projected on the stage
Friday, April 5th, 2019
8 – 9:30 PM
At the Nott Memorial
Meet the organist and the visual artists