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Jim Samson

This book asks how a study of many different musics in South East Europe can help us understand the construction of cultural traditions, East and West. It crosses boundaries of many kinds, political, cultural, repertorial and disciplinary. Above all, it seeks to elucidate the relationship between politics and musical practice in a region whose art music has been all but written out of the European story and whose traditional music has been subject to appropriation by one ideology after another. South East Europe, with its mix of ethnicities and religions, presents an exceptionally rich field of study in this respect. The book will be of value to anyone interested in intersections between pre-modern and modern cultures, between empires and nations and between culture and politics.

Artists at Play

Natalia Erenburg, Iakov Tugendkhold, and the Exhibition of Russian Folk Art at the “Salon d’Automne” of 1913

Anna Winestein

collecting and display of narodnoe iskusstvo [folk art]. 1 This article addresses this gap, examining the artistic circles where the project originated, earlier efforts to present Russian folk art in Paris, the show’s rationale and selection of particular works, from private and public collections, as

The Poetics and Aesthetics of Otherness

Orientalism and Identity at Abramtsevo

Maria Taroutina

present article investigates the pervasiveness of Eastern motifs, themes, and subjects in the works of a number of prominent artists of the Abramtsevo circle, including Korovin, Polenov, Repin, Serov, Viktor Vasnetsov, and Vrubel. Mamontov himself took a keen interest in the art and culture of the East

Eleonora Paston


This article examines questions related to dilettantism, typically defined in negative terms as engagement in an activity without proper professional training. However, this concept can also prompt a positive association, connoting freedom from inertia, ossified techniques, and professional stereotypes and clichés. The present article contends that dilettantism is especially necessary in transitional periods of art history. At such moments, innovations may arise more readily in intimate and amateur circles, rather than in professional contexts. Such a circle developed in the 1870s-90s among the community of artists who gathered around the prominent industrialist and philanthropist Savva Mamontov, a man of diverse talents, who astutely intuited new trends in art. This group of artists came to be known as the Abramtsevo artistic circle, after the name of Mamontov’s country estate located just outside of Moscow, where the vast majority of their artistic activities took place.

In Abramtsevo’s informal, creative atmosphere ideas for new aesthetic projects spontaneously materialized across a range of different artistic spheres—theater, architecture, decorative, and applied arts—in which members of the circle were essentially amateurs. But it is precisely in these areas that the artists would make their most significant contributions. Thus, the first seeds of a novel understanding of theatrical production as a single immersive entity were initially sown on the amateur stage of the Abramtsevo estate and subsequently fully blossomed in Mamontov’s Private Opera (1885-91; 1896-99), which played a foundational role in the development of Russian musical theater. The Church of the Spas nerukotvornyi [Savior Not Made by Human Hands], built by members of the Abramtsevo circle (1881-82), became the first exemplar of the Neo-Russian style in the history of Russian architecture, an important constituent of stil modern or Russian Art Nouveau. The activities of the kustar workshops in Abramtsevo—the carpentry workshop (1885) and the Abramtsevo ceramic studio (1890)—made a significant contribution to the development of the applied arts and industrial design in Russia, leading to their “rebirth” on a national level.

“A Special Place”

On the Significance of Abramtsevo

Elena Voronina

than thirty thousand museum objects), as well as the wonderful landscape that is easily recognizable in the canvases of numerous famous Russian artists (the total area of the reserve is around 50 hectares). We hope that the present publication will be of interest not only to specialists, but also to

Vasilii Polenov’s Architectural Projects

Between the Neo-Russian Style and National Romanticism

Elena Kashtanova

“pure” styles in architecture, for there are always borrowings from past and present. Appeals to the traditions of Old Russian architecture, free interpretation, the desire to convey the spirit of Ancient Russia—all of this gave rise to the Neo-Russian style, the earliest example being the Church of the

Darya Manucharova

’ intention to introduce a new educational paradigm with the help of art. The present article is devoted to this rarely studied topic and focuses on the didactic ideas of Savva Mamontov’s circle in the sphere of theater, examining both the early amateur theatrical works and the later “golden age” of Mamontov

Inge Wierda

its religious and artistic legacy continue to resonate in Russian culture to the present day. The area in question derives its name from Saint Sergius (1314-92), who, seven hundred years ago, traversed the soil of Radonezh, Khotkovo, Sergiev Posad, and its environs. Like the region’s religious

Viktor Vasnetsov’s New Icons

From Abramtsevo to the Paris “Exposition Universelle” of 1900

Wendy Salmond

artists and their public. First conceived for the Church of the Savior Not Made by Human Hands at Abramtsevo, Vasnetsov’s icon paintings exemplified the Abramtsevo community’s commitment to forging a link between an imagined national past and a rapidly modernizing present. That Russia’s artistic elite

Regulating Russian Arts and Crafts

The “Second All-Russian Kustar Exhibition” of 1913

Ludmila Piters-Hofmann

with the Tercentenary. 16 The eventual solution was to use the Imperial Botanical Gardens. The new building for the herbarium and library on Aptekarskii Island was, at the time, still a building shell and the distribution of the rooms in the four-story stone building was deemed suitable for presenting