FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Rise and fall

Posted in Moscow, Russia by folkestonejack on January 18, 2007

A rather busy breakfast today with the hotel restaurant astonishingly packed out at 7am with what seemed to be some sort of army gathering given the number of high ranking officials sitting down to breakfast in full military uniform! It’s not every day that you have to dodge away around generals to get to the buffet… nevertheless, I managed to get a tasty breakfast and a refreshing cup of green tea with lemon.

Sign at Moscow Sculpture Park

I started my day of sightseeing with a ride on the metro to Park Kultury then walked over the Krymskiy Most (bridge) to reach the New Tretyakov Gallery and Sculpture Park. At the same time I got a good view out across Gorky Park, with the Buryan (the Russian Space Shuttle) visible by the riverside. It was a fairly cold, grey day so I didn’t walk into the park but settled for a walk around the fairly small and to be honest, far from impressive, sculpture park with it’s handful of statues of Brezhnev, Lenin and Stalin. Quite disappointing really, having heard much about how it was better than similar parks in Budapest and the Baltic states.

Statue outside Moscow Sculpture Park

Once I’d walked back around to the Tretyakov, my next mistake (it was turning out to be a good morning) was to choose the wrong entrance. I paid to enter the exhibition galleries and found myself utterly baffled by what appeared to be galleries of modern artworks for sale. I wandered around for a bit, ate a slice of cake with coffee and then walked back around the building and discovered the right entrance! I felt like a muppet but hey…

My bad luck was not over yet, as I discovered that galleries 19-34 of the New Tretyakov were closed for re-hanging so I couldn’t actually see any of the social realist artworks that I had come to see (much as I had failed to see the social realist art on my trips to Łódź and Warsaw!). Nevertheless, I paid up to enter and had a look at the Ivanov exhibition and some of the other works from the 20th century (including the cubist and futurist works on display). I was particularly taken with a series of panel paintings by Grisha Bruskin which are a continuation of/variation on the painting Leben über Alles (Life over All) produced in 1998 for the German Parliament. Even without the social realist art there were still many iconic paintings in the collection that I got to see, such as the striking painting Bathing of the Red Horse by Kuzma Sergeevich Petrov-Vodkin (1912) which is pretty hard to ignore, whether you like it or not!

Statue of Lenin at Oktyabrskaya Ploshchad

On leaving the New Tretyakov I walked to Oktyabrskaya Metro station so that I could get a good look at the statue of Lenin in the square before carrying on with my day. Keeping up with the theme I then went to Pavletsky station to see if I could find the pavilion with Lenin’s funerary train, which was supposed to be in the park alongside the station. Unfortunately the park was locked up with guard dogs to discourage entry, so that was one sight to cross off the list!

I had quite a bit of time spare so I took the metro out of town to Tsaritsyno (the Tsarina’s village) to see the palace that Catherine the Great had constructed to rival the imperial palaces at St Petersburg. The palace was never completed and fell into ruins until the present day, with huge plns to restore the buildings and re-open them.

At the time of my visit there was a lot of construction work taking place on the Great Palace which you could survey from the muddy grounds. Quite a few people had come to see and to visit the exhibition in the newly restored Bread House (re-opened in 2006) which sets out the history of the palace and shows some of the archaeological finds from the history of the place. Quite fascinating.

Tsaritsyno

As the light faded I headed back to the metro station (a fairly short distance from the park, via a fairly murky road under a railway bridge) and sat back for the longish metro back to VDNKh (the stops on this part of the line are much further apart – the metro map can sometimes be quite deceptive!). I returned to the hotel to change out of my exceptionally muddy clothes and then headed out to Alekzeevskaya to go to the supermarket (picking up chocolates and other treats for family/work) and to My-My for my evening meal.

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