Vasily Perov – Hunters at Rest (1871)

“What’s your story? It’s all in the telling”, contemplates Rebecca Solnit in her non-fiction book The Faraway Nearby. “Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads…

Konstantin Makovsky – The Kissing Ceremony (1895)

No one knows exactly how kissing came about, whether it was instinctive or learned behavior, yet its influence is hard to overstate. From greetings to displays of affection, signing papers (seal with a kiss) and marriage pronouncements, New Year’s celebrations and religious traditions, kissing has been part of many cultures for the longest time. And…

Ivan Shishkin – Rain in an Oak Forest (1891)

Given the monikers “Forest Tsar”, “Old Pine Tree” and “Lonely Oak” by his contemporaries, Ivan Shishkin enchanted everyone with his meticulous eye for detail and with his extraordinary skill in grasping the beauty and simplicity of nature. His highly realistic landscapes – usually rendering forests – belong to a larger movement at the time, called…

Wassily Kandinsky – Composition IX (1936)

With the new discoveries in science, including Einstein’s famous theory of relativity at the beginning of the 20th century, artists started questioning the limited, illusory reality they were experiencing. There must be more beyond the physical world, they thought. Art became a way to test the notion that a deeper, spiritual dimension was within reach…

Natalia Goncharova – The Cyclist (1913)

Born into an aristocratic family descended from the poet Alexander Pushkin, Russian artist Natalia Goncharova was destined for greatness. Eccentric, audacious and fully aware of her capabilities, at only 32 Goncharova became the first woman and avant-garde artist to have a retrospective show in Moscow.  Ultimately, she would be known for co-founding Rayonism, a style…

Konstantin Somov – The Boxer (1933)

The fact that there are such few male nudes in art stands as proof that for the longest time women couldn’t access the art world. Even if they could, it would have been highly inappropriate for them to be alone in a room with a naked male model, let alone paint them for hours. Some…