Pushkin Museum, Moscow: Naked Hunks, Marble Trunks

The Pushkin Museum is the largest museum of European art in Moscow and one of the capital’s most popular cultural hangouts.

After moving to Russia, I passed the building a few times on my way to the club and for whatever reason decided that was enough. I already walked past it like a bazillion times, I would say when my friends urged me to visit the museum. In the end it took me more than five months to actually visit the place – and I’m sharing this embarrassing statistic with you, because I don’t want you to make the same mistake.

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If you are even vaguely interested in art, the Pushkin Museum should be on your must-visit list when you come to Moscow. It has works from the likes of Van Gogh, Picasso and Matisse, a vast collection of ancient artifacts and even larger-than-life statues of naked men. Well, some parts are larger than life, anyway…

The first room you seen in the museum is pretty overwhelming. It’s filled with elaborate sculptures – oh, don’t think I didn’t see you ogling the one I was talking about earlier… Can we move to the next room now? I promise there will be more naked people hanging from the walls. No, not literally!

What did I tell you, darling? There are naked people aplenty! Museums are like strip clubs for the highly educated. Is that inappropriate? Should I take it back?

There, you naughty fox. Some landscapes to calm you down a little. Or is it just me? This whole Valentine’s Day thing is not doing me any favours. Have you ever considered escaping couples in a museum? Do not do it. They’re in the corridors and on the paintings. Double kill.

Alright, fine, I’ll stop discussing my issues with you. For now, anyway. Let’s talk about the ancient artifacts on display in the Pushkin Museum. This was by far the best part of the exhibition in my eyes. It should be noted that I have a slight obsession with old civilisations. And when I say slight, what I really mean to say is that I’ve run out of Ancient Rome documentaries to watch on YouTube.

But the contemporary art did not disappoint either. That last painting is Erik Bulatov’s “Horizon” (1971) and it beautifully illustrates the division between reality and propaganda in the Soviet Union. His paintings are extremely rich – both in colour and in metaphors. As Matthias Arndt put it, his “lush, green landscapes toil under the labels ‘Not To Be Leaned On'”. That’s the thing with Russia – it smells of fresh paint. I don’t believe that people are spray-painting the grass in Sochi green, as Twitter would have it. But it wouldn’t shock me.

It’s fascinating how much life people can breathe into a still image. Ordinary – or in this case pretty extraordinary – surroundings come alive and gain new layers of meaning in the presence of a live being. We each have a story to tell and it’s fascinating how many stories can be told without a single word.

Отечество мое – в моей душе. My homeland is in my soul. That was the name of the temporary exhibition in the museum and it is also the quote I want to leave you with. As a frequent traveller, I struggle with the concept of a homeland – who would want to choose one when you can make the whole world your home? What is your take on this? Does your homeland have a fixed address or do you carry it in your heart in a fold-up bag?

  • Was there 2 months ago… the collection is just stunning! had to wait quite a bit tho (like an hour at minus 20°C ;p). Tbh i didn’t like the old part all too much…but the museum containing the art from the 20th century. Boy i never knew they had so many monets van goghs, matisse – etc!