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The exhibition, The Brotherhood of Free Culture: Recent Art From St. Petersburg, Russia represents a significant moment in the history of exhibitions of Russian nonconformism in painting. Like all Russian nonconformist art, this exhibition and these artists trace their roots back directly to 1863 and to the tradition of "unofficial" art, which, one might say, began with the refusal of those fourteen artists to remain under the yoke of the academy. The bold move of those young artists in the nineteenth century precipitated the formation of a more permanent group of painters into the Brotherhood of Traveling Art Exhibitions, or the Peredvizhniki, often mistakenly referred to in English as the itinerant painters. This is a misnomer. In fact, the point of the exhibitions organized by the members of that brotherhood - and a very important point at that - was not that the painters themselves would travel, but that their paintings would travel around the country, giving the population greater access to art and, in particular, to contemporary art. Interestingly enough, the majority of the population, to whom these paintings were traveling, could not afford even the four-ruble admission to see them.

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Copyright © 2002 Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art, University of Richmond Museums.