Painting “Birch Grove”, Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi – description

Description of the picture:

Birch Grove – Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi. 1879. Oil on canvas. 97×181 cm

   The most popular painting by Arkhip Kuindzhi “Birch Grove” is the main translator of the main stylistic differences of this painter, the quintessence of his thoughts and amazing coloristic finds.

   The painting was created specifically for the seven exhibitions of the Artistic Mobile Society, and immediately caused surprise of the audience and spectators – it was not out of habit for everyone to color the canvas.

   Although many liked the satisfied, bright mood of the work, this very picture was the impulse that divorced the artist with the Wanderers. Soon after the exhibition, an anonymous article appeared under the pseudonym “Amateur” in the Molva newspaper, which blamed Kuindzhi for the bad taste – the author de-rediscs his paintings very much. Also, the article sounded doubts about Kuindzhi’s talent in principle, it was also said that lighting effects were not the result of a filigree mastery of technology, but the introduction of lighting devices that were hidden behind the canvases of paintings. The name of the mysterious “Lover” was soon revealed, it turned out to be an employee of the “workshop” Kuindzhi, a member of the mobile society M. Klodt.

   Kuindzhi claimed the expulsion of the offender from the Wanderers, but no one responded to this request, and Arkhip Ivanovich himself left. In general, biographers agree that the conflict between Kuindzhi and Klodt was just an excuse – the artist has long jumped over the socially-revealing framework of art, promoted by society, and the Birch Grove is a colorful proof of this.

   Having conceived the plot, which was used by the majestic huge number of Russian painters (Levitan, Shishkin, Savrasov), the master for a long time found an impeccable composition – preserved sketches and sketches testify to this. According to these relics, one can trace how the creator chose the height of the trees, the area of ​​the meadow, and wondered how much space to give under the forest. In other words, there is nothing spontaneous in this picture, it is the fruit of verified artistic thought and in no way plein air.

   What is the decorative picture? If you pay attention to the group of birches, which are located with verified accuracy on the canvas, or rather on the base of the trunks, you can see how they are deliberately flattened, which creates a certain convention. Also, decorativeness is manifested in static – the foliage on the trees seemed to freeze, and the air is so transparent that of course: there is not a single breath of breeze in the meadow. The thicket in the depths of the picture is devoid of detail – it is a dark green wall, designed to shade color contrasts.

   But all the beauty lies in piercing greenery and sunlight. The painter deliberately “lowered” the shadow to the frontal plane, further emphasizing the contrast with respect to the sunlit glade.

   You don’t immediately notice a stream with green water, although it flows in the very center – it seems that the sun breaking through the crown of trees has transformed the path in such a way. But the sparkling mirror surface confirms that it is the stream that conditionally divides the canvas into two halves.

   The creator used spotless colorful paints, and if you look fragmentarily, it seems that they are just unrealistic sometimes, but you just have to look your canvas wide, feel this sunny catchy day on a practically physical level.

   Kuindzhi, with his own decorativeness, simplification, innovative introduction of the power of color, overtook almost everything in his time, and therefore not everyone accepted the work right away, although it was the “Birch Grove” that was destined to become the artist’s “calling card”.

   And this is true – the “birch” theme did not let the painter go all his life. In addition to the most famous work, there are 5 more with a similar title, of which only two are considered complete. The third picture caused the most controversy – in addition to the vertical format, one can also feel the search in the field of symbolism … but this is a completely different story."