The Lovis Corinth Museum has opened in Gvardeysk. It is located in a house where the famous German Impressionist lived the first years of his life. Or rather, what Corinth’s childhood home has become after decades of destruction and subsequent painful restoration. On Thursday, May 19, the “technical” opening of the museum took place, and from Friday it should be open to all visitors. As an experiment – seven days a week.
The small house on the banks of the Deima on Wasserstrasse (now Water) was built in 1825 and has long belonged to the family of Lovis Corinth, who was born in Tapiau. The artist then moved to Königsberg, lived in Munich, Berlin, became the beauty and pride of German Impressionism, but many times returned to his hometown, gave him paintings and never forgot about him.
In the Soviet and post-Soviet years, Lovis Corinth’s childhood home was residential and multi-apartment, gradually declining. Then it was declared an emergency and resettled, but decided not to demolish, but to turn it into a museum. In the spring of 2020, reconstruction began, during which part of the building collapsed. In the regional government statedthat the “capital” reconstruction with “disassembly of some elements” was provided by the project. As a result, the original house was almost completely demolished, and then the contractor recreated a copy of it, though with some conventionality. For example, the building got plastic windows and a veranda made of something suspiciously reminiscent of corrugated board.
But, despite the difficulties with the contractor and the courage of some architectural solutions, the museum in the “House of Corinth” still earned, albeit a couple of years later than originally expected in the regional Ministry of Culture (originally planned to complete the reconstruction by May 1, 2020).
The Museum of Fine Arts filled the “house”, for which it became the first branch. On the ground floor there are four exhibition halls, in one of which you can watch a 15-minute film about Lovis Corinth. The second hall is dedicated to the artist’s childhood and the history of Tapiau of that period. In a separate hall – Corinth’s graphic works, in total in the collection of the Museum more than a hundred of them, this is the largest collection in Russia. There is also a room where various exhibitions of works by modern masters will be held.
Another, the multimedia part of the exhibition is hidden from view and is available only to adult visitors. The fact is that Lovis Corinth worked a lot with the naked nature (including his own), so not all of his works dared to show to the general public.
On the attic floor (even more cozy than the main one) there is a children’s art studio. Unlike the museum, it is already in full swing, mostly Guards schoolchildren come here.
On the opening day, Gvardeysk presented the new museum with an original self-portrait of Lovis Corinth. The painting was bought on the German market by German professor Volker Krayer and presented to the city on the condition that when the Corinth Museum opens in Gvardeysk, the self-portrait will take its place in his exhibition. And so it happened.
Now the authorities and the museum are deciding whether to fence the newly built branch with a fence around the perimeter. They really do not want to do it, says the head of the “house” Karina Bespalova. However, the landscaped area has already become a center of attraction for local youth – and not in the sense that the museum dreamed of. In addition, landscaping will continue. In particular, they want to make a park of sculptures here – to exhibit works that are stored in the funds of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Text: Alla Sumarokova, photo: Vitaly Newar / New Kaliningrad
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