“Sunflowers, music, and apples”. That was Beanie-boy’s assessment of artist Zurab Tsereteli’s favourite things, and I can see why he came to that conclusion as there were indeed a lot of paintings and sculptures featuring those things in the Tsereteli Art Gallery.
Born in Georgia, but having moved to Moscow as a young man, Zurab Tsereteli is well known here for his sculptures including one of Peter the Great that stands on the banks of the nearby river. His art gallery is extensive (apparently there are works by other artists on the top floor but we didn’t get that far!) and includes an atrium filled with some of the biggest statues you are ever likely to see, rooms of paintings in a variety of styles, as well as sculptures of contemporary figures such as Vladimir Putin, Princess Diana and Mother Theresa.
It’s a lovely art gallery to visit with children – the majority of the art is in such vivid colours that Beanie-boy found it very visually appealing. It also helped that in some of the rooms the art was floor-to-ceiling meaning that much of it is easy to see and engage with – even if you are considerably under 4 feet tall. The subject matter of the art was also comfortable for pre-schoolers (no problem with images of decapitated heads as with the Old Masters at the Pushkin gallery) although I had been warned not to take the children inside the giant apple sculpture which is apparently filled with erotic images!
Beanie-boy’s favourite sculpture, which he returned to twice, was one of the Three Musketeers – I strongly suspect because they are holding swords. He was thrilled with the story of the brave soldiers who protect the king with their skilled swordsmanship, and he was still talking about the sculpture at bedtime.
Taking Little Pickle along was probably (definitely!) a mistake. At not yet two-and-a half years old she really was incapable of obeying the fundamental “Do Not Touch” rule of art galleries. She only succeeded on one occasion, and even then she only got as far as the pedestal that the statue was sitting on before the eagle-eyed attendant swooped down on her and stopped her from getting any further (I swooped too, but the attendant was remarkably quick on her feet!). In an attempt to ensure we didn’t get into trouble, I tried the “let’s all sit down and look at the sculpture together” technique but she squirmed around on my lap, clearly desperate to escape, and so I resorted to containing her in the toddler backcarrier. Little Pickle did participate a bit in the “what can we see in the paintings game”, with the food being by far her favourite: “Apple! Apple! Pear! Apple!” – so perhaps Tsereteli might conclude that she gained some appreciation for his art (and possibly favourite fruit) after all!
The gallery is at 19 Ulitsa Prechistenka and their website can be found at: http://www.tsereteli.ru/rah/# Admission for children is free. The titles of each work are given in English but the general signage is all in Russian – as a result it took us a while to locate the atrium with the giant sculptures which (just so you don’t have to hunt for it) we finally found through a door on the left-hand side of the gift shop.