In the art museums of Russia, women sit in the galleries and guard the collections. When you look at the paintings and sculptures, the presence of the women becomes an inherent part of viewing the artwork itself. I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over. In conversation they told me how much they like being among Russia’s great art. A woman in Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery Museum said she often returns there on her day off to sit in front of a painting that reminds her of her childhood home. Another guard travels three hours each day to work, since at home she would just sit on her porch and complain about her illnesses, “as old women do.” She would rather be at the museum enjoying the people watching, surrounded by the history of her country.
1. Stroganov Palace, Russian State Museum
2.Matisse Still Life, Hermitage Museum
3.Konchalovsky’s Family Portrait, State Tretyakov Gallery
4. Veronese’s Adoration of the Shepherds, Hermitage Museum
5. Rublev and Daniil’s The Deesis Tier, State Tretyakov Gallery
6. Michelangelo’s Moses and the Dying Slave, Pushkin Museum
7.Malevich’s Self Portrait, Russian State Museum
8. Nesterov’s Blessed St Sergius of Radonezh, Russian State Museum
9. Petrov-Vodkin’s Bathing of a Red Horse, State Tretyakov Gallery
10. Kugach’s Before the Dance, State Tretyakov Gallery
Mixtec or Aztec lip plugs, Mexico.
”In Mesoamerica the labret, or lip-plug, was a piece of jewelry worn only by noble males in Central Mexico. Inserted through a pierced hole in the lower lip, a labret qualified the wearer’s speech and breath as precious.”