Art Tours to St. Petersburg:
Each summer, during the White Nights Festival, the Hermitage Group hosts artists
and travelers for Insiders Art Tours. In addition, dates and programs can
be custom tailored to individuals or groups, so contact us for personalized itineraries:
Below are the general program details:
St. Petersburg--A City for
St. Petersburg offers the perfect surroundings for art
study. Founded by Peter the Great in 1703 as Russia's window on the West, St.
Petersburg became one of the leading cultural capitols of Europe by the 19th century.
Peter brought architects from Italy, France, and Holland to create a city in the
grand European tradition. Canals, designed to acknowledge Peter's love for Amsterdam
reinforce St. Petersburg's connection to its western neighbors. And its artists
have always been held in high esteem, with statues and monuments throughout the
city honoring its poets, writers, and musicians .
Your visit will begin
with both bus and canal tours through St. Petersburg giving you two complementary
views of this paradoxical city. Everywhere you look you will see unique architectural
wonders, which 70 years of Soviet planning couldn't destroy. The city is faded
from its former glory, but filled with an exuberance and excitement as it fights
to reclaim its heritage.
You will be visiting only one week after the longest
day of the year. During this time of the White Nights, darkness never falls completely.
There are numerous musical, dance, theatrical, and other artistic events in the
evenings for which your guides can arrange admission. Or simply stroll though
the city and experience the pastels of a midnight dusk as they paint the city's
For the practicing artist, St. Petersburg offers exposure to
both the historical and recent influences of Western art. From the incredible
richness of its iconography to the dynamic experiments of the constructivists,
futurists and the Russian avante garde, one immediately senses the font from which
many contemporary movements sprang.
The Hermitage Group of St. Petersburg
The 8 artists/teachers who founded the The Hermitage Group have worked
and painted together since the late 1960's. But, because of their unwillingness
to follow the dictates of state sanctioned artistic norms, they were forbidden
from exhibiting in their own country until the reforms of glasnost.
1990, they opened The St. Petersburg College
of Composition, the first independent art school in St. Petersburg. In part
because of the underground following they developed through their clandestine
activities during their years as teachers in Soviet art schools, upwards of 200
students were enrolled in the school by 1992.
In that same year, and again
in 1993, they toured the United States meeting with artists and educators during
a series of exhibitions and workshops. Through these contacts, the international
exchange workshops were created as a vehicle to bring the rich artistic heritage
of the Hermitage Group's painting and teaching techniques to Western Europeans
Noted Art Critic Peter
Frank describes their unique perspective:
Because of the richness and diversity of its cultural heritage,
the city itself will become your campus. Your studies will include a combination
of studio work at the Hermitage Group's school, classes at various museums, and
outdoor drawing and painting throughout St. Petersburg. Participants will receive
both specific and detailed technical input as well as first hand experience with
the Renaissance and modern masters' paintings which form the essence of
the Hermitage Group teachings. And most importantly, you will have plenty of free
time to explore the streets and alleys of the city which inspired Pushkin, Rimsky
Korsikov, Dostoevsky, Malevich, Kandinsky, and Chagall.
The workshops have
been designed with small class size to allow separate sections appropriate to
any level of expertise from beginning student to professional artist. Sections
will be provided for high school students, college level students, hobbyists as
well for as art teachers and professionals.
While the specific format of
the classes will be designed on the spot to acknowledge participants' needs and
to allow time for special events, the general plan is for week-day classes from
10:00 until 12:30 and from 2:00 until 4:30 with lunch served at the school. Many
of the afternoons will include visits to the Hermitage and Russian Museums for
both lectures and free time to explore.
Emphasis of the art instruction
will be on two dimensional drawing and mixed media, including pastels, watercolor,
ink, charcoal and pencil. Throughout the program every attempt will be made to
maximize your interaction with the Russian people. The classes will include students
from St. Petersburg, and you will be invited to artists' studios throughout
the city. We will have a closing reception and (if you are brave) a joint exhibition
of the participants work.
The Culture and Sightseeing program
those participants not taking the workshops, we will offer a guided exploration
of the treasures of St. Petersburg as well as an insider's look which few visitors
get. In addition to visits to the major museums, cathedrals and palaces, our sightseers
will be invited to a variety of behind the scenes looks at the cultural life of
the city. Since the artists of the Hermitage Group are part of the St. Petersburg's'
artistic circle, they are able to arrange very special activities. For example,
last year's program included visits backstage at the Kirov Ballet, meeting with
museum restoration experts, entrance to the closed collections of the Ethnography
museum which house one of the largest collections of Native American artifacts
outside the U.S., and private tours of the Hermitage Museum.
everyone, we will provide plenty of opportunities to shop for folk arts and crafts,
vodka and even caviar under the guidance of the most resourceful shoppers in the
world. There are stores and small markets throughout the city where Russians buy
their presents, which few tourists ever see. We'll help you navigate them and
provide translators. The media would have you believe there is nothing to buy
in Russia...don't you believe it!
A word on Schedules
the Soviet banner has fallen, the fabled Russian bureaucracy still stands. Rather
than planning an exact itinerary, we coordinate our days between guides, artists
and art historians to take advantage of unpublicized events. Many of the activities
during your visit will be arranged on a moment's notice. The itinerary is characterized
by a flexibility which allows us to respond to opportunities as they arise.
Grand Hotel Europe --14 days--From $4,300 including airfare from New York
travelers who want to mix some indulgence into their workshop experience, we offer
the 5-star pleasures of one of Europe's premier hotels. Restored in 1991 to its
Art Nouveau splendor, the Grand is managed by the Scandinavian Reso Hotel properties.
Centrally located, the Grand is walking distance from most major attractions.
Its bars, restaurants, gift shops and exemplary concierge staff offer the visitor
every convenience. Your stay includes buffet breakfast daily and transportation
to and from IAISP.
As with any great urban center, the vibrancy and excitement
of St. Petersburg can become trying and exhausting. The Grand Hotel will provide
you with a respite and sanctuary so you can rekindle your energy to once again
explore and discover the treasures of the city.
days--From $2,500 including airfare from N.Y.
for our high school and college participants, this program is open to anyone seeking
a more personal experience of Russian life. While it also offers significant cost
savings, its primary benefit is not financial. You will be staying with artists'
families and friends and living as the Russians do. Through all their past and
current difficulties, between their shortages and long lines, Russian family life
maintains an incredible warmth. Their hospitality is unparalleled, and what they
lack in material possessions they more than compensate for with gifts of the heart.
It will be an exciting and wonderful experience as you join your host family in
the daily ritual of life in the new Russia.
You will eat breakfast and
dinner with your hosts, and contrary to most media stories, there is plenty of
food in Russia, but for the average Russian it is prohibitively expensive. Your
host families will receive dollars to purchase food and prepare meals to Western
standards. Russian cuisine is rich and hearty, and also includes many vegetarian
dishes. If you have dietary restrictions, please let us know. While we cannot
guarantee particular culinary details, every attempt will be made to satisfy your
Your host families will be screened and approved as knowledgeable
of and sympathetic to the needs of American travelers. Even so, the traveler who
selects this option must be adventurous, open to different standards, and willing
to accept the absence of many things we take for granted. Second bathrooms, for
example, are unheard of. Numerous small inconveniences require that you come with
an open attitude.
YOUR U.S. COORDINATOR
Tony Wolff is the
Hermitage Group representative in America. Formerly an international management
consultant to such companies as Apple Computer, IBM, AT&T, Bank of America,
etc., he scaled back his business significantly in the late 80s to devote his
efforts to citizen diplomacy projects with the then Soviet Union. As a volunteer
consultant for the U.S./Russian Foundation for Social Innovation, Tony first visited
the Soviet Union in 1989, and met the Hermitage Group. He was inspired by the
dedication of these artists who had painted together for over 20 years even though
they were prohibited for most of that time from exhibiting their work; the next
two years were spent securing permission to bring the artists and their paintings
to the U.S. We would love to share the fruits of that dedication with you.
of pricing and program options are available upon request