Friday, July 11, 2014

Konovalenko Gem Carvings

On our recent trip to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, we came across the Vasily Konovalenko: Gem Carvings of Russian Folk Life exhibit. It was quite possibly my favorite exhibit and the one I will remember for a long time.

From the Denver Museum of Nature & Science website:
In 1957, while working at the Mariinka Theatre in St. Petersburg, Konovalenko produced sets for the ballet Stone Flower, in which the protagonist is a stonecutter. Konovalenko's gem carvings for the ballet earned rave reviews, and he became smitten with the art form.
At first glance, they are "pretty figures". (Click on any image to enlarge it)

Upon closer inspection, when you realize that every sculpture is made of carved gems, your eyes get big and your jaw drops.

And then you have to look closer...

And closer...

The detail is incredible!

This reaction didn't just happen to me. I watched people, one after another, have this same reaction. They walk in to view the displays and have a moment of shock when they realize they are gem carvings. Then they would run and grab someone in their group to show them and it happened all over again.

These sculptures are IMPRESSIVE!

Even if they were carved from some other material, they would be wonderful.

Twenty of Konovalenko's sculptures were purchased in the 1980's by a museum trustee and made available to the museum for display. I'm so thankful that happened because this is the only public display of Konovalenko's sculptures outside of Moscow.

If you are visiting the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, this one exhibit is a "must see"!

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