Kandinskij, Gončarova, Chagall. Sacro e bellezza nell’arte russa

Gallerie d’Italia, Vicenza

To mark 20 years since the opening of Intesa Sanpaolo’s first museum hub, Gallerie d’Italia in Vicenza hosts Kandinskij, Gončarova, Chagall. Sacro e bellezza nell’arte russa, an exhibition welcoming 45 works by great Russian artists of the late 19th and early 20th century, in unique juxtaposition with precious icons from the Intesa Sanpaolo collection.
Running from 5 October 2019 to 26 January 2020, it charts the extraordinary dialogue that, little over a century ago, characterised the distinctive nature of Russia’s contribution to international contemporary art.
The exhibition juxtaposes the icons with a series of carefully chosen major works, many of which have never seen the light of day in Italy before, loaned primarily from Moscow’s leading Russian art museum, the Tret’jakov Gallery, from the museums of Yaroslavl, Astrakhan, MMOMA (Moscow Museum of Modern Art) and the Bakhrushin Theatre Museum, Moscow, as well as the Musée National Marc Chagall, Nice, and the Museum of Modern Art-Costakis Collection, Thessaloniki.It aims to show how modern Russian art draws on ancient iconography for its spirituality, rebuilding a national identity and, through the Avant-Garde, a new aesthetic sensibility that recognises the icons’ extraordinary ability to express a universal language.

The exhibition is curated by Silvia Burini, Giuseppe Barbieri and Alessia Cavallaro in collaboration with the Centre of Studies of Russian Art (CSAR) of the Ca’ Foscari University, Venice.

Running concurrently is an extensive programme of events: Russian-language films and seminars on the history of Russian art, ballet and chamber music, free educational programmes and, at weekends and on special opening days, art walks and creative workshops for families and visitors of all ages.

Painting the invisible

The Russian art world’s appreciation of the centuries-old tradition of religious icons really took off in the second decade of the 20th century. Some of its leading exponents had already shown an interest in sacred art in the late 1800s, not least leading names in Russian Art Nouveau such as Vrubel’, Vasnecov and Nesterov, Ivanov (all featured in Kandinskij, Gončarova Chagall. Sacro e bellezza nell’arte russa) who experimented with sacred objects without linking themselves directly to the ancient traditions. But a much closer relationship with the icons emerged in later decades through the Avant-Garde movement. Whilst its themes are not overtly religious and the artworks are no longer intended for use in worship, as with the turn-of-the century painters, the resounding presence of the icons can be seen much more clearly.

For Russians – as reiterated by Kandinsky – beauty is an inner need that derives from experimentation with the invisible (nevidimoe) in daily life (byt).

The exhibition begins by exploring the theme of the sacred in the late 1800s before focusing on the figures who – like Kandinsky, Natalia Goncharova and Chagall, as well as Petrov-Vodkin and Filonov – demonstrated like no other exponents of the Avant-Garde the profound affinity between the philosophical and theological concept of the icon and the movement’s spiritual and aesthetic quests.


from 05.10.2019 to 26.01.2020
Opening hours
from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Last admission: 30 minutes before closing.
Closed on Mondays.

Combined ticket valid for the exhibitions and permanent collections:
– full-price: €5.00
– reduced: €3.00