Russian avant-garde meets religious iconography

An exhibition of works by celebrated Russian artists including Wassily Kandinskji, Natalia Gončarova, Marc Chagall and Kazimir Malevich has opened at the Gallerie d’Italia in Vicenza.

Kandinskji, Gončarova, Chagall: The Sacred and Beauty in Russian Art celebrates the 20th anniversary of the gallery’s opening.

Housed in the baroque Palazzo Leoni Montanari, it was the first of three museums opened by Intesa Sanpaolo to share its extensive art collection with Italian and international visitors.

The exhibition explores the links between the boldly futuristic Russian avant-garde movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the country’s ancient tradition of religious iconography.

The bank’s collection of icons formed the gallery’s first exhibition.

Giovanni Bazoli, President Emeritus of Intesa Sanpaolo, says: “In the sumptuous baroque residence of Vicenza’s Palazzo Leoni Montanari, the first branch of the Gallerie d’Italia was born in 1999. It was immediately known as ‘house of the icons’ because, as part of the major project of appreciation of the bank’s art collection, it was destined to host one of the most important collections of Russian icons in the West.”

“Twenty years after the inauguration of this exhibition – with the intention of sharing our collection more widely – we today present an exhibition which, thanks to exceptional loans from the Tret'jakov Gallery of Moscow and other international museums, documents how Russian modern art has been nourished by the spirituality of the ancient iconographic models.”

Among the works exhibited alongside ancient icons are Kandinskji’s 1909 Red Wall Destiny and Gončarova’s 1910 work Trinity.

A programme of cultural events, including talks, concerts, films and family activities, will complement the exhibition.

“On the occasion of its twentieth birthday, the Gallerie d’Italia of Intesa San Paolo in Vicenza, reaffirms its vocation to be a meeting point between the European East and West,” says Bazoli. “It will help us recognise the richness of our common Christian roots.”

Author: Giulia Rhodes

Credits: Wassily Kandinsky (Moscow, 1866 – Neuilly sur Seine, 1944) Destiny (Red Wall) 1909, Oil on canvas, 84x118cm The Astrakhan State Art Gallery n.a. P.M. Dogadina


Kandinskij, Gončarova, Chagall: The Sacred and Beauty in Russian Art is at the Gallerie d’Italia, Vicenza until January 26, 2020