This interdisciplinary project premiered at The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. on March 23rd, 2011.

The notes below are taken form the the programme. The full NGA program notes are available to download here.

Click on an image below to view the whole collection in a larger size

Noting that his wife, Tanya Anisimova, often improvises in response to paintings, artist Alexander Anufriev collaborated with her to create Tanya through the Eyes of Artists. The composition realizes Anufriev’s desire “to let the artist and the improviser face each other; to let these artists paint Tanya.” Since the artists in question—apart from Anufriev himself—have long been dead, he did the work on their behalf. Taking into account the personal characteristics of each of the chosen masters, he portrayed Tanya as that artist might have painted her. She, in turn, improvises in response to each portrait as the work is performed.

Anufriev provides the following comments on each of the movements of the work:

  • “Magritte: The last thing he is interested in is a portrait as we might have imagined it. All of his works are portraits, whether it’s a portrait of a rose, or of a painting, of a stone, or of a shoe. Everything he paints, he paints as if it were alive. One will never find dead matter in his paintings.
  • Picasso: He is self-confidence personified. A master of the artistic ‘here and now,’ he has an incredible ability to freeze the moment of the creative process.
  • Van Gogh: As paradoxical as this may sound, Brueghel’s influence is present in all of Van Gogh’s art with a Dutch theme. It is this above all, that places his art in an entirely different category from that of his French contemporaries.
  • Modigliani: To me, Modigliani is love personified. While his art is unique, his life was that of a typical Parisian bohemian.
  • Qajar. This portrait is a celebration of decorative art from the last of the great Persian dynasties.
  • Soutine: The initial impulse given to the artist is not exhausted until the work is finished.”

About Tanya through the Eyes of Artists, Anisimova writes: “Seeing a portrait by a given artist in front of me, I am rooting my improvisation in a time frame of this artist’s life. However, I am aware of the fact that any true artist is drawing his inspiration from the past as well as the future, and his or her art truly exists beyond time and place. The musical means of expression are not unlike those of the art of painting. When I improvise, I deal with color (musical harmony), tone (key, tonality), and rhythmic organization of sounds (a graphic art). The project is challenging and unique, since I am sitting in front of the portraits and creating a dialogue with the artists that encompasses past and future, yet is present now, in this very moment.”

Program notes by Tanya Anisimova and Alexander Anufriev.

The performers extend their thanks to Wayne F. Yakes, MD,for allowing the use of images from his collection.