The Bolshoi Theatre


Ivan Korzhev’s sculptures of ancient muses Erato and Terpsichore for the central facade of the Bolshoi Theatre capped a long-term work on the restoration of the main cultural attraction of the Russian capital. The sculptures replaced the earlier art works of P. Klodt and M. Rukavishnikov decorating the two central exedras of the Bolshoi Theatre.

The muses Terpsichore and Erato symbolize two opposite theatre principles: Dionysian (creative, sensual, irrational) and Apollo principle (harmonious, rational, critical). Ivan Korzhev captured and rendered the two poles of the same essence in his sculptures creating fresh new images.

It took him a year to create the sculptures for the Bolshoi after dozens of expert reviews and approvals. In search of composition core for each muse he began his work with accurate reviewing of archives. The sculptor had to create a variety of preliminary sketches on paper and plasticine to finish sculptures’ gestures, attributes, drapery, facial expressions. The result was two balanced and symbolic art works materialized as "the single human nature" (1.75 meters) in plaster.

The next step for the author was to double the sizes of sculptures and create them in clay. The life-size of muses is 3.6 meters. The flat models of sculptures were tried on directly into the exedras of the Bolshoi to determine the exact sizes of original statues.

Finally Ivan Korzhev proceeded to forming and moulding his sculptures in plaster. All moulded fragments were put on a special metal frame, assembled together and finally shaped up. The culmination was when the sculptures Erato and Terpsichore were installed on the facade of the Bolshoi Theatre. The installation of a sculpture is a complex process involving expensive lifting mechanisms and other technologies.

The sculptures by Ivan Korzhev for the Bolshoi Theatre will be unsurpassed masterpieces for many years to connoisseurs of art from abroad as well as from many parts of Russia.