Soviet Art Works Will Come to Fogg

A collection of Russian paintings never before seen in the U.S. will come to Harvard's Fogg Art Museum this spring, for one of its only three American showings, officials said yesterday.

Titled "Russia, The Land, the People: Russian Painting 1850-1910," the exhibit of 62 realist late-19th century Russian paintings is one of 13 cultural, educational and scientific exchanges between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, resulting from November summit meetings between President Reagan and Soviet Premier Mikhail S. Gorbachev, United States Information Agency (USIA) officials announced this week.

A `Major Exhibition'

"We are very excited about this. It is really a major exhibition, both to scholars and the general public," said Peter Nisbet, curator of the Busch-Reisinger Museum and co-ordinator of this exhibit.

"European museums have had a steady flow of exhibitions of this kind, but America has been left out of active cultural exchanges," Nisbet said. "Maybe this will begin a change and America can be a beneficiary of this exchange as well," he said.

The Harvard exhibition will take place from April 13 to July 15, 1987.

In exchange for the Russian paintings, the U.S. will send 65 American paintings from approximately the same time period--including works by Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent--to Leningrad and Moscow museums.

"The goal of the exchange is for each country to see how the other perceives itself, its landscapes, its history," said Dee Bennett, a spokesman for the Smithsonian Travelling Exhibit Service, which is acting as curator of the collection during the U.S. showing.

Although Soviet museums have lent their exhibitions to U.S. galleries before, "this one is a novelty because the works are done by Russian artists, such as Ripin, Shishkin and Kandinsky, whereas every other exchange consisted of European artists' work exhibited in Russian galleries," she said.

"It will be wonderful to see 19th century art that isn't French. It will complement our current Italian painting exhibit, offering alternative views of the 19th century," Nisbet said.

The terms of the exchange requested that the art be displayed in academic settings, and that it be accompanied by some kind of symposia, Bennett said. Harvard plans a one-day symposium relating other Russian arts to the exhibit to enable people "look at the art in as informed and intelligent a way as possible," Nisbet said.

In addition, during the run of the show, the museum has planned events that relate to 19th century Russian culture, including lectures, a film series and concerts of Russian music.

The other galleries chosen to house the collection are the David and Alfred Smart Gallery of the University of Chicago and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Experts Mixed on Value

Soviet experts praised the exchange for cultural and aesthetic reasons, but denied that it will have any political impact. "It is a very pleasing, very significant cultural exchange," said Adam B. Ulam, Gurney Professor of History and Political Sience.

"These cultural exchanges have no politicalvalue," said Richard Pipes, Baird Professor ofHistory. "They always try to put themselvesforward as a peaceful nation, and this createsgood will, but it will have no effect on theirconduct. Russian art is very nice, but Russia isstill in Afghanistan, they still keep Sakharov."

Pipes added that the American side of theexchange is more important "because their peopleare more shut off. The people in this country whoare interested in Russian art have books, they cantravel, but what we send to them transcendscultural importance. It changes the way they seethe world, but still has no politicalsignificance.