Art and Faith

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Ilya Repin. Burlaki (The Volga Bargehaulers). 1873

Burlaki (The Volga Bargehaulers)

Ilya Repin

1873

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Burlaki is probably the most famous work by Repin, and it is probably the most famous Russian painting in the West. I fear that it is well-known in the West because it confirms many of the misconceptions and distortions concerning Russia common amongst Westerners. Russia wasn’t a totalitarian state. It angers me (and other Russians, as well) to know that the only exposure to our visual culture is this work (technically brilliant as it is, and justly famous). Our culture and civilisation are more humane and beautiful than this. Go figure…

BMD

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