Panther (Fury) - 1967 Boris Vorobyov Painted by V.M. Zhbanov Porcelain; under-glazed monochrome painting


Until April first 2012 – State Hermitage -Rotunda, Winter Palace

Beginning in 1936, Boris Vorobyov began both a course of study at the Academy of Arts and a job at the Leningrad Porcelain Factory, which would be tied to his artistic career for more than three decades. He created a great number of models that added to the gold portfolio of the factory; many of them are still being duplicated, and are in as high demand among lovers of porcelain as ever. Contrary to established academic traditions, this artist remained true to the “animalier” style, using his creative gifts to shape a wide variety of materials: porcelain, faience, ceramics, glass, wood and metal.

Around 200 items from the collections of the State Hermitage Museum, the artist’s family and OJSC “Imperial Porcelain Factory” were included in the exhibit.

Every piece represents the artist’s deep appreciation of the value of nature, and of its simultaneous vulnerability; each of them is an embodiment of his serious and thoughtful approach to his models. The thematic range of Boris Vorobyov’s “animalier” style is very broad, but one unique motif in this artist’s work is the polar bear, which he used several times, reaching a pure stylistic conclusion in the classic paired figures of a walking and sitting polar bear.

Tigers and leopards were also frequent characters in Vorobyov’s sculpture. The monumental nature of the sculptures entitled Recumbent Tiger and Panther (Fury) demonstrates the artist’s complete command of form and material, as well as his understanding of the nature of his subjects. Panther is distinguished by its remarkable grace and elegance of form, and the acuity of its sculptural design. Created in the late 1960s, it might be said to represent a capstone to the artist’s many years of work in porcelain. In his work, this sculptor always strove to express the interior character of his subject as he understood and felt it himself.

The Quartet Series (based on I.A. Krylov’s fable of the same name) 1949 Boris Vorobyov Design for the painting by I.I. Riznich Porcelain; over-glazed colour painting, gilding


A
nimals were the main, but not the only theme that attracted Boris Vorobyov’s style. Literary images from the work of I.A. Krylov, A.S. Pushkin, M.Y. Lermontov, N.V. Gogol, A.P. Chekhov, S.V. Mikhalkov, translated into the language of porcelain sculpture, became equally important for the artist. Immediately after their creation, these works drew great interest from collectors and lovers of porcelain and were in high demand. Although these sculptures had literary antecedents, they were, nonetheless, works of art of their own right. Each of these groups is characterized by the freshness of the artistic approach taken to creating them and the absence of compositional and artistic cliche’s. Each of these figures preserves its own individuality.

The series of characters based on N.V. Gogol’s The Government Inspector and Dead Souls, which are often called the “Gogol types” was literally created in one breath; in four months, according to the artist. These figures all produce a similar impression; their nearly identical height emphasizes and even grotesquely overdoes the character traits and “typecasting” expressed in Gogol’s prose.

The sculptural cycle dedicated to Chekhov’s stories presents not only characters, but plot groups. The Chekhov series, while remaining without the domain of indoor sculpture, demonstrates the artist’s tremendous sculptural and compositional virtuosity.

These series of literary cycles concluded with a group of sculptures dedicated to the works of M.Y. Lermontov. The primary artistic principle at work here is that of the conventionality of the sculptural form, emphasized by the contrast between black and white tones and the various structures of the material. The artistic devices used here made it possible to express a dramatic internal duality, the psychological conflict that Lermontov’s characters are embroiled in.

In addition to the porcelain pieces from the collections of the State Hermitage Museum and that artist’s family, this exhibit includes thirty works of graphic art by Boris Vorobyov. The strongest impression is made by the watercolors, created by the artist in the 1980s, while he was severely ill; working from memory, the sculpture put an entire gallery of animal images, from both memory and fantasy, down on paper.

As part of this exhibit, the artists of the Imperial Porcelain Factory have presented their own decorative rendition of the image of the polar bear, transforming the same classical form created by Boris Vorobyov into a new, non-standard type of art object.

The “animalier” had been given the undeserved label of a “light genre.” Boris Vorobyov’s work is full of a deep and sincere approach to sculpture. Highly valuing his characters, he aspired to place the world of “out little brothers” on the same level with the human world, or even higher. Boris Yakovlevich Vorobyov felt that the aim of his work was to make sure that “these “porcelain animals” showed people the beauty of nature, forced them to listen to the voice of nature and fall in love with it.”

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