Nika Dzeban: Shishkin and the Beautiful Subtleties

Ivan Shishkin. Swiss Landscape. 1866. Source Link.

Looking through the artist’s biographies, identifying who they spoke with and seeing which aspects of other artist’s works came into the paintings of Levitan, Shishkin and Savrasov becomes a peculiar “detective” work. Over the past month, I’ve been focusing more on Shishkin and the progression in his works. I’ve realized that Shishkin’s earlier landscapes tend to be more saturated with colour and less refined natural objects. While in his 1866 painting “Swiss Landscape” we can see the bright blue sky and light filled field, the composition of the work appears Western and almost over satiated with various compositional elements. The 1869 “Noon. Vicinity of Moscow. Bartsevo,” painted in Russia and similar in composition and content to the aforementioned work, shows the shift away from the Academic landscape standards, especially when the work is compared to the 1866 version of the same name. Moreover, Shishkin’s later works instead of pulling us forward become much more suggestive of the vastness to the right and left of what is depicted, and rather than appearing highly orchestrated and polished become more representative of Russia’s extensive lands.