Museums

“Blue Temples”, Nicholas Roerich – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Blue temples – Nicholas Roerich. 1921. Tempera on canvas 495 x 785 cm
In 1920, Nicholas Roerich left for the USA, where he organized a large exhibition tour of American cities. On the American continent, the Russian artist, philosopher, ethnographer created several series of paintings with different characters and contents. The work dedicated to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Roerich called “Blue Temples.” Being an inquisitive researcher, Roerich could not help but become interested in an amazing place – one of the deepest canyons on earth. Half a century after the picture was created, the canyon will be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

One of the central philosophical and cultural ideas of Roerich proclaimed the unity of cultures and peoples, and the Grand Canyon combined the traces of as many as 4 geological eras. So in the picture the mountains and rocks of the canyon look like a layer cake. But the stepped cliffs, Roerich presented in the form of monumental structures, temples. This imagination of the artist organically blended both in the concept of his philosophical ideas and in the geographical picture of the area. Like some sacred structures, the tops of the rocks of the deepest canyon serve as a kind of symbol of unity. After all, beauty is understandable to everyone, and the beauty created by nature in a complex and long evolutionary process does not belong to one country or religion, people or historical time – it belongs to the whole world, to humanity.

Roerich appointed blue as the dominant color in this work. Here you can see, it seems, all its shades: from dark ultramarine to delicate azure. Roerich loved to work with blue color – the master brilliantly painted the sky, and thanks to his talent, the heavens literally lived their own lives, delighting with outlandish figures and outlines. In the same work, Roerich leaves the sky virtually neutral, focusing on the natural architecture of the canyon, monumental, powerful.

Roerich deliberately uses tempera, knowing that after years of saturated, the blue color will not lose its brightness and saturation, like oil-based paint. The artist boldly operates with color masses, wrapping them in shape with the help of simple, understandable lines.

During his relatively short stay in America, Roerich managed to do a lot – to establish several cultural centers, art associations in large cities, open the Art Center in New York. His stormy artistic and social activities, numerous cultural lectures resulted in deserved admiration and recognition in the West, and in 1923 the first museum in the world appeared in America, dedicated to only one artist, namely the Museum of Nicholas Roerich. A talented artist, an outstanding personality, a subtle thinker were discerned here much earlier than in his own country."

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