And it is a source of great controversy in the city of Moscow. First it has been voted one of the 10 ugliest monuments in the world. Its base would seem to be a towering wave from which the bows of several smaller ships poke out. And riding the top of this wave is a lifesize sailing ship with the sails furled. Standing astride the bow is a giant Peter the Great holding a golden map up in his right hand. He is wearing clothes almost looking like a Roman soldier, and totally out of sync with his time period. The Moscovites wonder why in the world it would be mounted in Moscow when Peter the Great hated Moscow and moved his capitol to beautiful St. Petersburg.
|The statue in the near distance, from a nearby park.|
And then there is the story of the designer. Apparently he was a favorite of the then Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov who gave this artist several municipal commissions, among them the Cathedral of Christ the Savior which you see in the background of the photo of the Peter the Great statue, to the left. The story is that this statue is based on a design to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the first voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World in 1492. Hence the ship is possibly the Nina, or the Pinta, or the Santa Maria. But no one in America would purchase and commission the statue. A similar Columbus statue was eventually sent to Puerto Rico but it was never assembled. Of course, designer Tsereteli denies that this was the Columbus statue that was repurposed to a Russian theme. It is a fact that as soon as Mayor Luzhkov left office, Moscow tried to send the statue to St. Petersburg, but that city also refused it. And so it still stands on the Moscow River.
I recall when our guide in Moscow pulled up along the Moscow River to show us this statue close up. He made some slightly negative remark about this statue which I didn't understand at the time because I had not read of this controversy. I can only say that from close up and from the near distance it is impressive to the eye. But I can see some of the issues. It might be like the blue working man's shirt sculpture, designed by conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim, that was supposed to be mounted on the corner of a parking lot down at our airport, Mitchell Field, in Milwaukee. Some thought that this huge translucent shirt denigrated the city's labor worker past. However, the artist insists that was never his intention. He had many other successful artistic installations that especially in his later years championed the human figure. But in Milwaukee, this particular design was so controversial that it never made it. But apparently neither did this Peter the Great (Columbus) statue at several places.
|The model for the proposed Mitchel Field parking lot "blue shirt" sculpture.|
Near the area of the Peter the Great Statue, between the Moscow River and the .... Canal, and south of the Kremlin, is a small pedestrian park called Bolotnoya Square. Along with a fountain and a typical 'man on a horse' statue, there is a famous sculpture group placed in the square in 2001 called The Sin Monument, or Children Are the Victims of Adult Vices by Mikhail Chemiakin. In the center of the grouping are two children covered with gold tone foil, and around them are aligned fairly large sort of scary statues depicting various adult "sins." The children have no where to turn because every adult figure is guilty of some flaw. And in addition, they are playing "blind man's bluff" , ie blind folded so they will not be able to see the obvious signs in the adults that show their flaws. When we visited in .... there were still a lot of people visiting this sculpture grouping. I have a photo of the whole grouping below. Here is a link of a site that shows each individual statue with great detail.
|Broad view of "The Sins Monument", Bolotnoya Square|
|A closer view of the center of the grouping with the children with blindfolds.|
|Ludzhou Bridge "padlock" tree.|
|Muzeon Park of the Arts: central statue of Lenin, surrounding busts of Stalin, |
and symbols of Russia in the background.
|Krymsky Val building of the Tretyakov Art Museum, adjacent to Muzeon Park.|
|Lenin in the center, small Stalin bust to left, Lenin bust to right, and Russian|
emblems to the far left, in Muzeon Park.
|In the center is a wall created by placing heads of fallen statues in a wire cage|
to create a wall. There are several walls like this in Muzeon Park.
|Statue of Stalin without its pedestal in Muzeon Park.|
|Cathedral of Christ the Savior|
|Gives you an idea about the massive nature of this church.|
|The Kremlin Wall from outside Red Square|
|Famous Saint Basil's Cathedral, now a museum.|
|Clock tower of the Kremlin|
|St. Basil's Cathedral from inside Red Square|
|Kremlin wall from inside Red Square; Lenin's tomb to the right in mid distance.|
|The huge gates of the 1939 Exposition Grounds.|
|A wonderful fountain showing peasant women in native costume. It was not|
running when we were there but apparently runs in the summer.