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Georg Kolbe: Russian Impressions

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The article describes German sculptor Georg Kolbe’s two direct engagements with Russia and its culture in the early twentieth century. The first, brief but fruitful, encounter, in 1912, the same year that Kolbe’s bronze sculpture Tänzerin (Female Dancer) was purchased by the National Gallery, was with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, who had returned for a second visit to Berlin. Kolbe received Vaslav Nijinsky and Tamara Karsavina in his studio; photographs and drawings of the two star dancers served as inspiration for works such as Tänzer (Dancer) and the Heinrich Heine monument in Frankfurt am Main, and also strengthened Kolbe’s interest in modern dance. The second opportunity came in 1932, when Kolbe, as a successful and established sculptor, was invited to tour the Soviet Union. In 1933, Kolbe published a brief account of his travels under the title “In einem anderen Land” (In another country); his observations, enriched with picturesque details, convey a feeling of empathy for the host country and its inhabitants. Only once does Kolbe admit to a certain discomfort with regard to the atmosphere in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Slavic Art History and Culture, Otto-Friedrich-Universität BambergGermany


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