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Nicolai Fechin, Portrait of My Father

Nicolai Fechin, Portrait of My Father (1912), oil on canvas [Frye Art Museum, Seattle WA, Feb 9-May 19] Collection: The Eugene B Adkins Collection at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

Nicolai Fechin

Frye Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum, Seattle WA – Feb 9-May 19, 2013

Nicolai Fechin, Nude Figure

Nicolai FechinNude Figure (1911), oil on canvas [Frye Art Museum, Seattle WA, Feb 9-May 19] Collection: The Filatov Family Art Foundation

Nicolai Fechin, Portrait of a Young Woman

Nicolai FechinPortrait of a Young Woman (1912), oil on canvas [Frye Art Museum, Seattle WA, Feb 9-May 19] Collection: Frye Art Museum

This significant retrospective of Nicolai Fechin’s artwork is the first hosted at the Frye Art Museum since 1976. The Russian-American painter (1881-1955) is best known for his innovative portraiture and painting technique that blends realism with highly textural surfaces and an emotional handling of paint that well preceded Abstract Expressionist styles.

Born in Kazan, Russia, Fechin studied early on with popular Russian painter Ilya Repin, whose work emphasized the realistic values of northern European masters such as Rembrandt. By 1910 Fechin’s work was internationally recognized, and he participated in major exhibits in Europe and the United States. Due to the chaos and poor conditions of post-revolutionary Russia, Fechin immigrated to New York in 1923 where he spent several years working before relocating to Taos, New Mexico and later Southern California.

This major exhibit ranges from early works during Fechin’s emerging years in Russia to later pieces during his time in Taos and California where he became increasingly interested in the landscape and the native people of New Mexico.

With a strong emphasis on works created in Russia, this overview draws largely from the Frye’s holdings from this seminal period of Fechin’s career when some of his most evocative paintings came into fruition. Among the 55 pieces in the show, Fechin’s strength lies in vibrantly coloured portraits that glow with personality, subjects that merge into the activated picture plane and figuration that emphasizes gesture, movement and vitality.

Allyn Cantor


 Thu, Apr 4, 2013