An exhibition of the world-famous Russian artist Erte opened in Moscow


The talent of Roman Tyrtov – graphics, fashion designer, costume designer, set designer, sculptor, jeweler – brilliantly manifested itself in each of these areas and captivated the public with the novelty of artistic techniques, the skill of a draftsman. The master owes his impeccable taste to his native St. Petersburg, where he received his first lessons in professional skills. It was from here that a 19-year-old young man of small stature, a fragile physique from the family of a vice admiral, following his dream, went to Paris to become one of the most famous artists in the world.

– Roman Tyrtov left behind a rich cultural heritage that will serve as a model of taste, harmony and style for many generations of our descendants. His illustrations for glamor magazines, costumes, sculptures and drawings are perfect. They kindle in our souls the light that is so necessary today and inspire confidence that it is beauty that will save the world,” said Olga Galaktionova, General Director of ROSIZO, opening the exhibition.

The exposition is based on colored engravings created by the master in the late period of his creative work, bronze sculpture, objects of decorative and applied art, magazines and covers from the 1910s–1930s, as well as theater sketches that exist in a single copy. For the first time, a complete digital archive is presented – 200 magazine covers by Roman Tyrtov.

“Erte’s name is superbly known abroad and undeservedly forgotten here in Russia,” says Andrey Raikin, curator of the exhibition. “But this man influenced the formation of the Art Deco era, its unique style, opened its new facets, diversity. Each of his works is a hymn to the beauty of the human body, a captivating play of imagination and endless admiration for his only ideal – the movement of dance.

Photo: ROSIZO press service

The exhibition includes more than 80 items from private collections and state museums, including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, the House of Russian Diaspora named after. A. Solzhenitsyn, the museum-estate “Arkhangelskoye”, as well as the theater “Helikon-Opera”.

Here are some interesting facts from the life of our great compatriot: Erte dressed Anna Pavlova. His biggest collector was Barbra Streisand. He considered the Italian opera singer Lina Cavalieri to be the most beautiful woman in the world. In the USA, Erte was called exclusively “the Russian artist Roman de Tyrtov – Erte.” For 22 years in a row (from 1915 to 1936) the covers of Harper’s Bazar magazine were published exclusively in covers designed by Roman Tyrtov. In Hollywood in 1925, he was met by an orchestra that performed “God Save the Tsar!” Since 1967, he has had annual solo exhibitions around the world, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Andy Warhol was a fan of Erte’s work, considering him a living classic. Erte celebrated his 95th birthday at the Trump Tower. He lived 97 years and worked until his last day.

I must say that the exhibition of the unique artist is exquisitely designed: the time (the beginning of the last century) and the place (USA, Hollywood, a corner of Russia) are unobtrusively decorated with details and nuances. On the walls of seven halls, each of which has its own color, Erte’s quotes, revealing him as a person, his character. “I love being alone. I need solitude for work and for life. Like a cat, I am quiet and independent by nature.” Or “Imagination is the main thing in my work. Everything I have done in art is a play of the imagination.”

Some of Erte’s statements are still relevant today. For example, he believed that clothing was like alchemy. “Fashion should not resemble a uniform. Everyone must maintain their individuality, adapting fashion to the properties of their personality. Fashion that becomes obligatory inevitably disappears from the scene.

In the last, seventh, semicircular hall, Erte’s series of engravings “The Seven Deadly Sins” from the collection of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, which has not been exhibited in Russia before, is presented for the first time. You won’t see them right away – the “sins” lurk behind the curtains. What pride, greed, anger, envy, adultery (or fornication), gluttony, and despondency look like can be seen if the curtains are pulled apart in turn. Sins, however, like everything in Erte, are refined, impeccable in execution and with a slight irony.

– When Erte worked in the studio, he covered his works hanging on the walls with curtains – so as not to distract. And only when guests came to him, the curtains moved apart, – Andrey Raikin explains.

At the exit, the audience is escorted by another quote: “Everything in life changes,” says the proverb. My long, rich and prosperous life refutes it. I recommend you remember.

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