DISCLAIMER: This is an unauthorized
work of fiction using characters that are (c) & TM by
Marvel Comics Group. No profit is being made on this story,
so I'll invoke The Marvel Readers' Bill of Rights (for the
full text see Stan's Soapbox in some of the May 1998
comics, e.g. Generation X #38):
"8. The right to practice scripting and drawing our Marvel
characters for your own pleasure and amusement."
The story and the original characters in it (for a list, see
the end notes) are (c) Tilman Stieve (Menshevik@aol.com).
You can download this and copy it for your entertainment,
but don't sell it for profit, or Marvel will set their lawyers
on you. Please do not archive this on your website without
informing me first.
Pictures at an Exhibition belongs to the continuing
series, the Tales of the Twilight Menshevik; it interconnects
with a few other stories, but should be understandable on
its own. It is set in an alternative future, about thirteen
years after the death of most of the X-Men on 2 September,
You can find the other Tales archived on "Fonts
of Wisdom," "Down-Home Charm," "MissyRedX:
The Average Website," and "Stacy's
Pictures at an Exhibition,
or: The Draughtsman's Account
Welcome to Breakstone LAKE Baikal, an exhibition of
drawings and paintings by Piotr Rasputin at the X-Men Museum
in Xavier Mansion, sponsored by Worthington Industries, the
Charles Francis Xavier Foundation and the Ministry of Culture
of the Russian Federation. To use this recorded guided tour,
just scan or punch in the numbered codes next to the exhibits
and at the entrances to the galleries, and press the PLAY
button. Feel free to use the seating provided to listen to
the more lengthy explanations. Should you prefer to hear the
tour in a language other than English, punch 001 for the language
setting menu. This tour is available in Russian, Spanish,
French, German, Shi'ar, Japanese and Chinese. The starting
point in the first gallery is code-numbered 100.
For an account of the history of Xavier Mansion, please press
For a brief history of the X-Men and the related teams, please
For an outline of the aims of the Xavier Foundation, please
A multimedia introduction to the exhibition is on show every
full and half hour in the former kitchen.
Piotr Nikolaevich Rasputin, a second-wave X-Man, went on to
achieve world wide fame after the end of his superhero career
as Colossus. He continues to be associated with the team's
former members and the existing teams descended from the X-Men,
thus his oeuvre contains many portraits of mutant heroes and
heroines both living and dead. Given the X-Men Museum's focus,
the exhibition concentrates on these, even though that makes
it not entirely representative of the artist's work as a whole.
Piotr Rasputin is after all is best known to art historians
as an abstract painter, but that aspect will be more exhaustively
covered in next year's retrospective at the Museum of Modern
This first gallery begins with some of Piotr Rasputin's earliest
works, from the time before his mutation became manifest and
he was recruited by Professor Charles Xavier.
For a potted biography of the artist, please punch 101.
Daddy fixing the combine harvester (1986).
The artist's father, Nikolai Rasputin, sketched at a forced
pause during the wheat harvest at the Ust-Ordynski collective
farm, nearly four years before Piotr joined the X-Men. This
is from the artist's oldest surviving sketchpad and already
shows a bit of promise for the future. Nikolai Rasputin's
face is mostly obscured by the hat he wore to shield him from
the intense sun of late Siberian summer, but notice the exquisite
detail in the muscles of the lower arm and the hand gripping
Misha in Space (1988)
The artist's elder brother Mikhail was a cosmonaut in the
Soviet space program and not surprisingly became a source
of fierce local and family pride. Also not unnaturally he
was idolized by his younger brother, who chose him as his
subject for his first attempt at a full-sized water-color
painting at Chapayev High School. Piotr Rasputin received
top marks for this portrait, which however is testimony not
only to the young artist's raw talent, but also to the way
he then conformed to his teacher's artistic guidelines. Fyodor
Grigorenko, whose father's paintings had been awarded a Stalin
Prize, was a conservative by the standards of his time, upholding
the principles of Soviet Realism. Grigorenko's teachings were
to exert a great influence on Piotr Rasputin's work for years
to come and this probably was one of the reasons why he continued
to draw and paint realistically for so long. After his exposure
to different styles in the US and British scene he did develop
his realism in ways not foreseen by his first mentor, but
one recalls one critic's remark at one of his first exhibits:
"Rasputin gives his male portraits jaws strong enough to crack
Brazil nuts -- maybe he should consider a career in adventure
Please press 116 to listen to Piotr Rasputin
remembering his time as Fyodor Grigorenko's pupil.
Piotr Rasputin: "Fyodor Ivanich was a popular teacher,
but a bit eccentric -- we students called him Dyadya Fedya,
Uncle Fedya -- behind his back. He loved the pictures of his
father very much and was very sad because every year there
were fewer of them in museums and public buildings. Even the
state-sanctioned art establishment had passed Ivan Grigorenko
by years before... But Fyodor Ivanich was a great teacher.
He taught me many techniques, some just the basics, others
more completely, and he always had the right advice or help
when I needed it, when I was running into problems. And he
always encouraged me to push myself. For example, when I was
barely sixteen, he asked me to paint a big akvarel', er, watercolor
of my brother Misha, who was a big local hero as a cosmonaut.
And you know you can't make many mistakes with watercolors...
or you have to start all over from the beginning. But after
several attempts it worked out surprisingly well. I was very
proud and happy I did it to Fyodor Ivanovich's satisfaction.
I am looking at the portrait with new eyes now, but still
have to say it is not bad for a sixteen-year-old.
Fyodor Ivanich was from Rostov on the Don, originally, and
two years after I joined the X-Men he retired. I met him again,
once, years later. He was not having an easy life -- because
of inflation his pension was worth very little, so he painted
landscapes to sell to make money, but not many tourists come
to Irkutsk, so he was thinking of moving back west of the
Mikhail Nikolaevich Rasputin (1988)
This second portrait of the artist's elder brother was drawn
later in the same year as the watercolor painting. In the
meantime tragedy had struck the Rasputin family: Mikhail was
missing, believed dead after his last space flight. This portrait
was intended for the family living-room. Partly because of
the sadness of the occasion Piotr Rasputin chose charcoal
as his medium. In this somewhat idealized portrait, Mikhail
Rasputin is shown against a dark, cross-hatched background,
wearing his cosmonaut's military uniform and decorations,
including that of a Hero of the Soviet Union which was awarded
Twilight Over Lake Baikal, Summer (1989)
Lake Baikal is a subject to which Piotr Rasputin would keep
returning in later years, but this pastel drawing is one of
the few of his pictures of the world's largest body of fresh
water that was painted from nature. For most of the Baikal
pictures he created afterwards he would have to rely on photographs
and his memory.
Xavier Mansion (1990)
Joining the X-Men in his costumed identity Colossus meant
that Piotr Rasputin became separated from his family for a
long time. He had to keep in touch by mail, and normally would
enclose a few sketches in his letters. These sketches were
usually done in pencil, occasionally also using a pen or ball-point.
The picture before you is one of the bigger ones he did at
the time and had to be folded several times to fit into the
envelope. Since the artist regarded his sketches as mere illustrations,
he also did not hesitate to write his explanatory remarks
onto the drawings. The legend in blue ink at the top translates
as "Xavier Mansion from the back". The arrow to the window
in the second floor says: "My room". Note the unusual signature:
'Koloss', the Russian translation of the code-name Charles
Xavier gave him.
For a guide to the Library and a description of Alicia Masters'
bust of Charles Xavier, please press 131.
Fall in Westchester (1990)
A rarity for the artist's stage of development at the time,
this neo-Impressionist watercolor (which may actually have
started out as a study for a larger and more detailed picture)
shows Piotr Rasputin's wonder at the spectacular bright colors
of the trees and bushes in the Xavier estate during his first
fall in America. It was so different from the autumn at home
in Siberia. The shapes of the trees here become secondary
to the multitude of shades of yellow, red, orange and brown,
with the dark green of the conifers and evergreens providing
Kurt Wagner (1990/1991)
Piotr Rasputin described his teammates and friends to his
family, including this page of sketches of Nightcrawler. The
pensive facial study top left may have been made during a
team briefing, while the dynamic full-body picture in the
center, where Nightcrawler parries an attack with his epee,
must have been made when the artist watched his friend during
a Danger Room exercise. The third sketch shows Kurt Wagner
with his later wife, Amanda Sefton. Piotr Rasputin got to
know her quite well, as he and his then girlfriend Betsy Wilford
frequently double dated with her and Kurt.
Fahé, Nereel and Shakani (1999)
Many of the sketches and paintings Piotr Rasputin drew during
his early days with the X-Men were lost to posterity for a
variety of reasons -- because he felt dissatisfied with them
and threw them away, or because they were destroyed during
the artist's travels with the team or when the places where
he lived were damaged or looted. Most of the surviving works
from that period were those the artist gave away to friends
who lived outside the Mansion or mailed to his family in Siberia.
Sadly that means that a number of important facets of Piotr
Rasputin's life in the early 1990s cannot be illustrated by
contemporary works of his -- in some cases this is accidental,
in others it is because he considered the subject matters
too intimate to give pictures of them to teammates or relatives.
Consequently, although it is known that Rasputin drew a great
many sketches of the ballerina Anya Makarova, not a single
one of them is known to have survived, and there appears to
be only one drawing left of Betsy Wilford, who went out with
Piotr Rasputin during late 1990 and early 1991: a discarded
unfinished sketch that happened to be preserved because the
artist used the other side of the sheet for another picture.
All the sketches of the women Piotr Rasputin met during
the X-Men's sojourn with the Fall People of the Savage Land
in 1991 were lost. At the time he considered the series of
nudes and semi-nudes too 'risqué' to send home to his parents
and sister. "I was afraid it might give them ideas ... and
correct ones at that," he recalled when interviewed by the
makers of this exhibition. However, we can present one of
the artist's later works to fill the gap, a painting done
in 1999, mostly from memory.
Here we are shown three friends Piotr made during his first
stay in the Savage Land. The woman on your right is Shakani,
who sadly was killed by a large predator in 1991, and the
one on the left is Fahé, who became one of the victims of
Terminus' attack on the Savage Land two years later. Between
them stands Nereel, later the head of the United Tribes and
consort of the artist. She asked him for a picture to commemorate
the occasion and her two late friends, and Piotr Rasputin
painted them as he vividly remembered them: as three young,
desirable and mostly naked young women full of the joy of
life. Note that at the lower right edge the artist placed
himself, or to be precise, you can see part of his left hand
holding his sketchpad, with the end of his pencil also visible.
Heroes and Villains? (1991-1992)
A rare collage work by Piotr Rasputin, this triptych shows
three men who were making headlines in mutant rights politics
in the early 1990s. The original impulse came from the debates
between Senator Robert Kelly and Professor Charles Xavier,
which were widely reported in the media. Originally conceived
as a diptych, the work was expanded into a set of three pictures
as a reaction to the impact of Magneto's ultimatum to the
world's leaders. The portraits of Senator Kelly, Professor
Xavier and Magneto are made up of cuttings from newspapers
and magazines, with differences in thickness of the layers
large enough to achieve a relief effect. The three subjects
are portrayed as masks with holes for eyes, reflecting the
artist's view that the media only present a superficial picture
of the issues and the people who represented them. If you
look closely, you see that Piotr Rasputin made no difference
between state-controlled and free media, including clippings
of pre-Glasnost articles from Pravda and Izvestiya
about Professor Xavier, the X-Men and Magneto as well as some
from Western papers. For the Soviet articles, the artist had
to use photocopies and printouts from microfilms as the public
libraries who archive the newspapers obviously would not allow
him to cut out the articles. The mask of Senator Kelly comes
equipped with a 'wig' made of thinly-cut strips of paper,
while Magneto's mask is actually just a rendition of his empty
helmet -- at the time Magneto was still very much an enigma
to the artist and his friends.
Jack London (1991)
During his second year as an X-Man, Piotr Rasputin decided
to do a series of prints to exercise and diversify his proficiency
in various techniques. As a common subject, he used 'famous
artists', asking his teammates to choose someone from the
performing or creative arts they admired. Wolverine's request
for a portrait of the writer of The Call of the Wild
and other famous stories came easy to Piotr Rasputin as London
was one of the most popular American writers in the Soviet
Union. Note the tiny wolf's head worked into the shadow under
the author's left ear. The template for this woodcut was a
photograph from the jacket of a copy of a collection of short
stories Piotr had read in school. This preliminary print is
shows the state before the artist redid the eyebrows. The
final version also was printed with a darker red dye. For
the artist's recollections of making this series, please press
This cold-needle engraving was done for Kurt Wagner. Unable
to make up his mind whether to choose Errol Flynn or Burt
Lancaster, Nightcrawler finally went for someone different
entirely, the singer/songwriter who died at age 25 in a mysterious
car accident in 1969 and became a legend in Germany. The plate
for this print, like the others was lost when the Mansion
was heavily damaged in 1993. For the artist's recollections
of making this and the other prints of the series, please
Piotr Rasputin: "It was fun to make the Legends
prints -- the others would visit me in my workshop, we would
listen to music together while I worked, that sort of thing.
In some cases it obviously was music by the artists concerned.
Alexandra, who had the same name as my mother, and sang a
lot of Russian songs or songs with Russian themes had a deep,
soulful voice that I really grew to like. Unfortunately Kurt
later had to buy the records all over again after the original
ones vanished into another dimension from Excalibur's lighthouse.
Katya, for whom I did a silk-screen of Nijinsky, would be
all over the room, demonstrating entrechats, of course that
was when we still... uh, thought we were in love. My only
mistake was to ask Illyana for an artist to draw -- she chose
Jon Knight, and so I had to listen to New Kids On the Block
and watch their videos for what seemed like weeks. Listening
to Miriam Makeba with Storm and to the Professor's Toscanini
LPs was a lot more enjoyable. Curiously, Logan and I were
the only ones who selected writers -- I had Pushkin and he
gave me a choice of Frederick Philip Grove or Jack London,
and, well, I knew London."
Katya Practicing (3rd - 7th February, 1992)
Katherine Pryde joined the X-Men in the fall of 1991, and
for a time she and Piotr Rasputin were inseparable. Her activities
as the superhero Shadowcat soon interfered with her passion
for ballet, ultimately forcing her to say good-bye to her
childhood dreams of a dancing career. In spite of this, she
continued to practice; this series of five pencil and charcoal
sketches depicts the youngest X-Man rehearsing a solo routine
at Stevie Hunter's ballet studio in Salem Center. The artist's
growing confidence in his craft becomes evident if you look
closely: With each successive sketch there is less and less
use of pencil and eraser.
Katya, Illyana and Another (1992)
Katherine Pryde and the artist's sister Illyana Rasputina
were roommates at the Xavier School residence for well over
a year. This pastel double portrait shows them in their room,
together with their companion, Lockheed the dragon. A few
months before this picture was painted, Illyana Rasputina
had been abducted to another dimension and because of temporal
anomalies aged several years before she returned a few seconds
later. She joined the New Mutants under the code name Magik
(Russian for 'mage') and later served with the X-Men, Avengers
and Excalibur. This painting later was presented by Piotr
Rasputin to Dame Katherine's mother, Ms. Teri Lieberman, who
kindly provided it for Breakstone LAKE Baikal.
Happy 1st Anniversary, Rogue! (1993)
As a former enemy, Rogue was not welcomed with open arms when
she joined the roster in 1992. However, she eventually won
her new teammates' trust and friendship, and in 1993 the X-Men
held a surprise party in honor of her first team anniversary.
For that occasion, Piotr Rasputin created this banner with
a picture of Rogue surrounded by the then active members of
the X-Men and New Mutants. By selecting 172,
you can listen to some explanations and comments by the artist.
Not all that long after the celebration, a number of X-Men,
including Piotr Rasputin, were gravely injured in the so-called
New York Tunnel Massacre. Because the Mansion at that point
no longer could be considered safe, the most gravely wounded
were ferried across the Atlantic to the research center on
Muir Island off Northern Scotland. Rogue, who was put in charge
of that evacuation, took a few personal possessions with her
on the flight. The ones she left behind on Muir Island when
she returned to America, including this banner, were put into
storage and forgotten, not to resurface until 2021 during
the ordering of the late Lady MacTaggert's estate. They were
then handed over to Rogue's surviving relatives, who then
put this picture on permanent loan to the X-Men Museum.
For a guide to the prominent features of this room, the former
Day Room, please select 171.
Piotr Rasputin: "Normally we would have wanted to celebrate
her birthday, but she didn't tell us when that was, and somehow
none of us thought it appropriate to ask her (also because
it would have spoilt the surprise). It probably was for the
better, because we later learned that she didn't really celebrate
her birthday but what she considered her 'true birthday',
the anniversary of the day she first met her adoptive parents,
Mystique and Destiny. And we only learned about that because
one day a cake for her arrived by special delivery, and then
she was so overcome with emotion she locked herself in her
room for half a day... In the end we decided to throw, erm,
hold a party when she completed her first year with us.
"I drew her being tossed in the air in celebration by
the X-Men and New Mutants. The round blanket looks like a
quiche -- that was an in-joke: When Rogue first arrived at
the Institute, I answered the door, and I had just started
making a quiche in the kitchen. Holding the rim, starting
from the top, and, er, going clockwise, you can see Kurt,
Dani Moonstar, Phoenix, 'Berto Da Costa, Logan, Doug Ramsey,
Magneto, Warlock, me, Sam, Ororo, Illyana, Katya, and Amara.
In the background there's the Professor (who at the time was
missing in outer space) and Scott with Madelyne and little
Nathan, who we then thought were safely in Anchorage. Magnus
had joined us shortly before. At the time he and Rogue did
not really take a personal interest in each other -- for them
it definitely was not love at first sight."
Elizabeth in the Morning (1993)
During the X-Men's secret stay in Australia, Piotr Rasputin
used the time between missions to do a series of nude and
seminude portraits of his teammates, including a self-portrait.
This cycle was long believed lost until it was rediscovered
two years ago in a secret base abandoned by the cyborg criminal
Donald Pierce. Evidently the paintings had been captured by
the Reavers when they took over the X-Men's former base in
late 1993. The canvases were in a damaged state and had to
be restored under the guidance of the artist. A selection,
where the subjects or their heirs gave permission, are on
public exhibition here for the first time.
This portrait of Elizabeth Braddock aka Psylocke was the
first of the series. As a former fashion model she was the
first one whom Piotr Rasputin approached and she liked the
concept. Her portrait is set in scene as the artist imagined
life at home in Braddock Manor: Elizabeth Braddock is shown
in the process of rising from bed, her body partly draped
in a light blanket and a diaphanous drape. A certain artificiality
is evident -- the artist had seen a lot of things since he
left his home on Lake Baikal, but Psylocke's near-aristocratic
background still was a foreign world to him.
Please press 191 if you want to listen
to some of the subjects of the cycle talk about the sittings.
The following excerpts are from the Trish Tilby Sessions,
a series of interviews conducted during 2005 and 2006 to provide
background for a longer television documentary. Because the
recordings were not intended for immediate broadcast, but
more or less to be filed for posterity, the interviewees were
a bit more open and relaxed than on other occasions. One of
the reasons the X-Men acceded to Ms. Tilby's request was to
put their story of events on record to guard against the possibility
of them not surviving long enough to set the record straight
in years to come. In the first excerpt, Rogue and Psylocke,
then with the Meddlers, reminisce about their time together
Rogue: "Well, the base was an okay place, but bein'
cut off from the rest o' the world wasn't good for us. Some
of us soon were gettin' stir-crazy. An' of course the problems
ah was havin' with Carol's personality an' the occasional
demonic influence didn't exactly help..."
Psylocke: "Not to mention your entering into a triangle
with Ali and Longshot..."
Rogue: "That was just me tryin' to have fun, not meant
serious at all -- Ali, like, totally overreacted! But it was
funny when we crashed in on Petey 'n' you durin' our fight."
Psylocke: "Please don't remind me."
Rogue: "Y'see Trish, Dazz blew her top when she caught
me wearin' her clothes, and in the fight that followed, we
ended up in the room where Betsy was posin' next to nekkid
Psylocke: "I was tastefully draped!"
Rogue: "Anyways, once the cat was out of the bag, everyone
wanted in on the game. Well, pretty much everyone."
Psylocke: "Some had to be cajoled into posing in the
altogether. Alex refused when we first suggested it to him."
Rogue: "He. Whatever happened to the pictures? Ah s'pose
they were lost or destroyed after ah disappeared."
Psylocke: "Probably. I think they were still around
when we all went through the Siege Perilous, but none of us
found any of them when we visited the place later... A pity
really, my portrait probably was one of the most beautiful
pictures of my old body. I wouldn't mind having another look
Rogue: "Peter never got round to finishin' mine. Ah
enjoyed posin' for Petey, it gave me all sorts of ideas about
us -- but my Carol side thought he was too young an' green."
Psylocke: "Hang on a mo, you and Colossus...?"
Rogue: "Oh, ah definitely had the hots for him then.
If ah had known how to control my absorption then, ah'd've
tried to take advantage of the sittings to seduce him. Why
not? He was the dishiest male around, and he was unattached!"
Psylocke: "Well, he was the type young girls like you
If you wish to hear more, please press 192.
The second excerpt is from an interview Trish Tilby did with
Storm in 2005. Ororo Munroe then was leader of the X-Men.
Trish Tilby: "Do you regret taking the X-Men to Australia,
Storm: "It was something that seemed to make sense
at the time. Leaving aside the wisdom or lack of it of pretending
we were dead, it did put us under quite a bit of stress. At
the Mansion we had been within easy walking distance of our
Trish Tilby: "Easy walking distance for you!"
Storm: "I guess going from Cairo to the Serengeti on
foot does give a different perspective... We had also been
within a hop, skip and jump of New York City, but now we had
to travel over a hundred kilometers to the nearest truck stop,
and it was even further to the nearest town, and there were
fewer ways of having a fun evening there than in Salem Center,
let alone Manhattan. So we stayed home a lot, and with such
a small group -- no more than nine persons all told, counting
Gateway, who never spoke a word -- that could lead to frictions."
Trish Tilby: "You went through a period of cabin fever?"
Storm: "You could call it that. Wolverine took to spending
more and more time in Madripoor between missions, and the
recurring tensions between the others made me feel like wandering
off into the Outback. Piotr probably handled it best: he just
kept on sketching and painting, painting and sketching. It
was a really fruitful period for him: landscapes both real
and remembered, battles from the past and present, portraits
of his teammates and himself in costume, in normal clothes,
Trish Tilby: "Whoa, whoa, whoa! He painted himself
in the nude? I'd like to see those... Just kidding, Hank!"
Storm: "Ha! No, actually he did a series of paintings
of us in the nude, which included a self-portrait, but unfortunately
these pictures were all lost later. Probably burned by the
Reavers. Sad really, some of them were quite good. I really
liked the way he painted me, it encapsulated how I felt then.
There was a lot more background than for the others, I was
this small figure against the arid Outback horizon, and looking
at the finished picture really brought home to me how lonely
I was feeling in my position of command. It was also interesting
from the aspect of Piotr's artistic development -- the first
painting I remember where he did not aim to re-create colors
naturalistically. Everything was a lot more intense than in
real life -- the sky was bluer, the earth was redder, almost
vermilion, which made for a stronger contrast with my hair
and skin (which he also rendered darker than it really was)."
Trish Tilby: "Did that also go for the others? Although
it's hard enough to visualize all of the others willingly
participating in that project..."
Storm: "Well, some were more modest than others. But
by the time the Australian episode ended, Havok was the only
one Peter hadn't managed to talk into posing for him, that
is if you don't count Madelyne, who... passed away before
he could ask her. Well, let's see, Betsy was kind of half-covered
up in her portrait, Rogue and Logan more or less let it all
hang out, and Alison's 'naughty bits' were obscured by Longshot's
Trish Tilby: "They were in one picture?"
Storm: "Yes, Alison jealously guarded her relationship
with Longshot, so she insisted they posed together, with her
embracing him from behind. She was a bit paranoid about Rogue
trying to entice him away from her, when all the time Rogue
was... well, I guess I can mention it, it's all water under
the bridge... secretly sweet on Piotr."
Lady of Mystery IX (1993)
In 1993, Piotr Nikolaevich Rasputin came to the attention
of the wider Manhattan art world under the name Peter Nicholas.
The acrylic painting before you was purchased by a private
collector at 'Peter Nicholas'' first and only exhibition at
the Street Scene Gallery in SoHo. The owner later donated
it to the Metropolitan Museum of Mutant Art. The subject of
the painting is a model whose face Peter had seen on a billboard
on top of the building across the street from his loft. The
mysterious woman became an obsession with the artist, especially
after he ran into her by chance a couple of times, and he
painted a whole series of pictures mixing observation and
imagination. It finally emerged that the model was in fact
Callisto, the former leader of the outlaw Mutant group the
Morlocks, whose face had been altered by the former teammate
known as Masque. A few days later Peter Nicholas' career came
to an abrupt end as the artist felt compelled to resume his
life as Colossus.
For a guide to the prominent features of this room, the old
Formal Sitting Room, punch 201.
Professor Charles Xavier (1994)
This large-format charcoal portrait is a close study of Charles
Xavier's careworn face during a particularly troubled phase
of his life. His son David Haller had apparently lost his
mind, his long-time friend Magneto had just returned to a
life of terrorism despite his entreaties (albeit briefly),
and the Legacy Virus had just been unleashed, It is a somber
portrait, and a startlingly unsympathetic one. The artist
here is a sharp-eyed, but also almost clinically detached
observer. Almost unnoticed by his friends, Piotr Rasputin
was himself slowly sinking into a depression that led to a
growing estrangement from his teammates and ultimately his
desertion. Later that year, he would join Magneto's Acolytes.
Grigorii Rasputin (1994/95)
This unassuming, charred and partially melted piece of metal
is perhaps one of the most sensational items in this exhibition:
a remnant of the space station known as Asteroid M or Avalon.
While living there, Piotr Rasputin decorated the walls of
his quarters with various paintings, especially portraits
of members of his family. When Avalon was destroyed and fell
to Earth early in 1995, this portrait was among the few artifacts
that remained recognizable after the heat of re-entry and
the destructive final impact. Because the subject was the
artist's namesake and a fellow Siberian, many people assumed
that Grigorii Yefimovich Rasputin, erroneously known as the
'mad monk' (he was in fact married) was a relative of Piotr
Nikolaevich Rasputin. It occasionally amused the artist to
foster that belief, as he did here by including 'Uncle Grisha'
among his 'family gallery', but in fact the famous or infamous
priest was born Grigorii Novykh. The original colors -- as
far as the artist can remember he used acrylic paint -- combusted
during re-entry, but the outline is clearly visible due to
the different discoloration of the metal originally painted
and that left bare.
This portrait of his Excalibur teammate Meggan is an important
one in the artistic evolution of Piotr Rasputin. Meggan's
ability to transform her physical appearance at will and her
quirky personality in addition to a fruitful visit to the
Louvre put the idea into his mind not to paint a realistic
portrait but to render his multifaceted friend in a polyperspectival,
neo-cubist style. It marked the beginning of two years of
intense experimentation during which Piotr Rasputin strove
to find more personal, individual ways of artistic expression.
The portrait was kindly loaned by Brian and Meggan Braddock.
The altercation between Piotr Rasputin and Peter Wisdom, Katherine
Pryde's new lover and subsequently her husband, is one of
the events his biographers have discussed the most. That he
so seriously injured his perceived rival triggered a period
of intense critical self-reflection that continued even after
Peter Wisdom's recovery and the reconciliation with him and
Katherine Pryde. The sight of the dark side of his own soul
continued to haunt the artist, and one of the ways to react
to and digest his acts was a cycle of neo-Expressionist paintings.
These remain in the possession of the artist, who declared
them too personal to be shown, with the exception of the one
before you. Peter Wisdom is seen in his hospital bed, with
an exaggeratedly complex life-support system looming above
him. Apart from the unnatural shades of his skin, he is delineated
with a sympathetic and almost naturalistic brush. This is
a stark contrast to the figure of Katherine Pryde beside him,
who is pointedly turning her back on the observer, that is
the artist. Her face is bowed down to the unconscious patient,
and what little we can see of the it is rendered in soft curves
and warm shades of pink. But the sharp angles of her shoulders
and elbows -- in violent indigo and purple -- lash out outwards,
erecting a protective fence around her loved one. The dichotomy
of inside and outside is taken up by the coloring of the background.
Nereel and Peter (January 1998)
In 1997 Piotr Rasputin learned that he had fathered the five-year-old
son of Nereel, chief of the United Tribes in the Savage Land.
Still feeling superfluous to Excalibur's requirements, he
took a vacation in Antarctica, finally deciding to settle
down with Tribes. His functions as father, husband, and protector
of the village left him enough time to pursue his artistic
career, while some of his friends joked that what attracted
him most was the Tribes' relaxed sexual mores. About three
decades later he and Nereel are still together. Not long after
his move to the Savage Land, Piotr Rasputin painted this double
portrait of his consort and son. The fabric on which it is
painted is not canvas, but a fabric made by tribal spinners
and weavers from the fibers of plants that have been extinct
for millennia outside the Savage Land.
Brontosaurs Browsing (1999)
During the first years in his new home, Piotr Rasputin went
out as often as he could to explore the vistas, flora and
fauna of the surroundings. The landscapes and animal paintings
on this wall form a representative selection. The artist's
son Peter was a frequent companion on these excursions, and
it was usual on such occasions for Piotr Rasputin to include
a small portrait or to paint a body-part of him in the picture.
In this specific case, the crown of Peter's head can just
be discerned between the fern leaves in the foreground at
the bottom right. But at the same time when on the one hand
he returned to a more realistic painting style for his landscapes
and studies of village life, he also experimented intensively
with totally abstract works such as Composition #19 (revised)
on the opposite wall behind you. Here he was laying the foundations
of his middle and later periods.
For a guide to the old Parlor Room and the sculpture Fighting
for the Dream by Lyja Storm, punch 201.
Irene and Hope (1999)
Even after he moved to the Savage Land, Piotr Rasputin continued
to be invited by his former teammates and their families to
record events -- such as the 1999 Pryde-Wisdom wedding --
or arranged for him to portray friends. One such occasion
was for a portrait of National Security Advisor Valerie Cooper,
who had become closer to the artist's friends Kurt Wagner
and Rogue by becoming their mother's life-partner and giving
birth to their sisters. In 1999 the artist was commissioned
to paint a portrait of Valerie Cooper with her new-born younger
daughter Hope, which Dr. Cooper then gave to Raven Darkhölme
as a present. (This painting in the Darkhölme-Cooper home
is not accessible to the public). During the breaks between
the sittings, Piotr Rasputin also did a number of other sketches,
including this charming pencil and wash picture of the two
Cooper daughters: Irene, is seen at age three, sitting in
an easy chair with her two month old sister Hope in her lap.
Irene later served for four years with Factor X before becoming
an lawyer and politician under her married name Irene Cooper-Marks,
while Hope now is a well-known designer of theatrical and
Scenes from the Mfidul (2000)
Outsiders are rarely admitted to the United Tribes' spring
festival, but in October 2000 an exception was made for the
X-men -- represented by members both of the official team
and the Meddlers -- who were invited to participate after
beating off the offensive of Garokk and Ares. Although he
himself was kept very busy during the dances and rituals,
Piotr Rasputin took the time to make thumbnail sketches of
his friends and former teammates. Above these, you can see
a number of larger and more detailed china ink drawings he
afterwards drew based on these sketches. In the left picture,
Siryn is surrounded and tickled by a gaggle of Madroxes as
amused tribespeople watch on. A comparatively rare example
of Piotr Rasputin portraying friends in a cartoonish style,
which is rather appropriate to the occasion. In the second
picture from the left, Storm is dancing a Kuposa under the
eyes of four admirers. Starting from the left, Wolverine,
Hercules (then in the Avengers/X-Men exchange scheme), Sunspot
and Cimbota of the Zebra People are sitting on reed mats and
clapping the rhythm as Ororo Munroe does her solo dance in
the foreground. Apart from Cimbota, all are dressed in traditional
Fall People garb, which enabled the artist to show off his
figure-drawing skills in this very naturalistic picture. Note
the detailed shading of faces, muscles and other body parts
in the light of the Mfidul fire to the right foreground. Next
to that is a more intimate portrait of Nereel in festival
finery using a quiet moment to nurse Vsevolod, her and Piotr's
second son. Finally, in the drawing on the right there is
a scene from the Mfidul feast, with Roberto Da Costa sitting
between Hercules' consort Hebe (a surprise guest) and Iruzu
of the Fall People, while in the foreground the artist's eight-year-old
son Peter is refilling Hebe's cup.
Petya and Volodya (2001)
Throughout his life Piotr Rasputin enjoyed being in the company
of children and portraying them. Not surprisingly his own
children appeared in paintings and sketches most frequently.
Here is a picture of Peter (then approaching his 10th birthday)
with his eight years younger brother Vsevolod. This painting
is based on sketches of the two that the artist took during
the United Tribes' Midsummer festival in December 2001.
Moon over the Lost Lake (2002)
A nocturnal study of a full Moon reflected Savage Land's largest
lake from the spring of 2005. Piotr Rasputin confined himself
to a limited palette in this color woodcut, just black, two
shades of grayish blue, and pale yellow. A couple of Plesiosaurs
can be seen just to the right of the reflection of the Moon
while the black foliage of trees and ferns forms an irregular
The family visit to his parents in 2003 led to a resurgence
of Siberian themes in Piotr Rasputin's figurative art. Apart
from a series of landscapes based on sketches and photographs
he took during the stay with his parents, he also created
a number of works inspired by Russian literature. During the
following years he did a series of illustrations for the Song
of Igor and Aleksandr Pushkin's Bronze Rider, among
other things. As the visit to Ust-Ordynski coincided with
celebrations of Yevgenii Yevtushenko's 70th birthday -- the
poet's birthplace Zima is also in the Irkutsk area -- the
artist also let himself be inspired by some of his poems,
on which he based a series of prints. The black and red woodcut
before you is based on The Idol from 1955, which describes
an old wooden idol in the midst of the Siberian Taiga, to
whom shy Evenks had once brought offerings of fur, honey and
deer blood "believing that he prayed and thought for them
all". Now it is forgotten, but the poet thinks that at night
his eyes light up like fire and he licks his lips, thirsting
for blood... Piotr Rasputin gave the idol a big moss-covered
mustache, which some critics found a somewhat too obvious
way to express his interpretation of the idol as an allegory
To listen to a recording of Yevgenii Yevtushenko reciting
the poem in Russian, please press 271.
For an English translation read by Mary Jane Watson-Parker,
please press 272.
Ruslan and Lyudmila (2005)
His new role as a father also became the inspiration for a
number of smaller works, as Piotr Rasputin drew pictures to
go with the stories and fairy tales he told to his two sons.
This crayon drawing of the hero and heroine of Aleksandr Pushkin's
poem Ruslan i Lyudmila was originally used when the
artist told that fairy tale to his younger son as a good-night
Home Are the Hunters (2006)
Being inaccessible to normal tourists, the Savage Land was
a popular place to spend vacations for the X-Men and their
allies. Here, in the middle of the first decade of the 21st
century, long-time X-Men leader Storm is returning from an
excursion on foot with her five-year-old daughter Umeme and
companion Yukio. The title is not entirely correct, as the
"hunters'" catch consists entirely of fishes.
Aunt Illyana with the Boys (2007)
Continuing to evolve his abstract style, Piotr Rasputin
finally decided to stop taking commissions for portraits,
landscapes and other realistic pictures. This did not mean
that he discontinued that aspect of his work entirely. Like
a number of other abstract painters, notably Kurt Schwitters,
he intermittently sought relief from the stress of his main
oeuvre by 'dabbling' in portraits, nudes and landscapes. However,
this led to a slight reduction in scope, as most of the landscapes
of this period were of parts of the Savage Land or Siberia,
and most of the figure paintings were of relatives and close
friends. One such example is this triple portrait of the artist's
two sons and his sister, painted during Illyana Rasputina's
visit to Antarctica in the summer of 2007.
An everyday scene at the Massachusetts Academy: Headmistress
Emma Frost and teacher Edna Tamzarian conversing by the front
door and watching students at play and relaxing during a spring
day recess. This painting is based on photographs taken by
Piotr Rasputin when he visited his eldest son at the Academy
during his freshman year. Peter, then in Ms. Tamzarian's class,
is the tallest youth in the group of four in the lower right
corner. The painting was one of two donated to Xavier's School
after the graduation of the artist's younger son, Vsevolod,
which, apart from this exhibition, are on permanent display
at the Academy teachers' lounge in Snow Valley, Massachusetts.
Three Sisters in the Savage Land (2009)
Two of Piotr Rasputin's most frequent visitors among his former
teammates were Rogue and Magneto, who liked to take vacations
together in the Savage Land to which they were sentimentally
attached. Later, when they were old enough, Rogue also brought
her young sisters, on prehistoric camping trips. At the time
this painting was created, during the summer of 2008/09, Irene
and Hope Cooper were twelve and nine, respectively. In the
foreground their big sister is showing them how to make a
spear for catching fish, while in the background Magneto is
playing chess with seventeen-year-old Peter, watched by Nereel,
Volodya and the artist. Piotr Rasputin combined two separate
events into one picture. The painting is normally inaccessible
to the public as it is housed in Rogue and Magneto's home
in the Old Hunting Lodge. It is on show by kind permission
of the heirs.
Peter and Friends (2011)
After graduating from Xavier's School, Piotr and Nereel's
son Peter returned to the Savage Land to his parental village,
becoming a full member of the society of the United Tribes.
In particular, like his father before him, he took a large
part in the Tribal irregular defenses, while in everyday life
he discovered a penchant for teaching children what he had
learned in Snow Valley. On this portrait, however, he is shown
relaxing with two lady friends, Juma and Niaro.
Studies for Requiem 27 and 28 (2014)
The battle on September 2, 2013, which cost most of the active
X-Men their lives, left a deep mark on the artist, who had
many close friends among the victims. The shock of their untimely
deaths would lie oppressively over Piotr Rasputin's work for
the next two years, and found its artistic expression in the
Requiem series of paintings. By now he had become primarily
and abstract painter, and the Requiem paintings are a prime
example of his new style. The first score or so of them were
rather overpowered by deep blacks and dark reds, but in the
ones that followed a fond remembrance of his friends' and
former teammates' lives came to the fore and relieved their
deep gloom. Brighter colors appeared, and most critics tend
to interpret the pictures as inspired by individual X-Men,
usually citing the similarity of the colors to those of their
costumes, hair and so on, even though the pictures were only
numbered within the general series, not named. The artist
however refused to be drawn to confirm any of the circulating
interpretations . The two compositions before you, Numbers
27 and 28, are usually seen as evocations of Rogue and Magneto.
Number 27, on the left, is dominated by vibrant greens and
warm burnt sienna. The general effect of the wavy lines and
small flecks, interspersed with golden yellow sprinkles, is
not unlike foliage in the sun, and has been linked to Rogue's
love of nature, both that of her native Mississippi, and that
of the Savage Land which she visited a number of times. Number
28 to the right is characterized by sharper lines and angles
in bright red and purple. The shape of a narrow triangle standing
on its point dominates the picture, and has been alternatively
interpreted as an evocation of the colored triangles worn
by prisoners in German concentration camps or a stylized male
figure by different writers. The finalized and full-sized
pictures, along with the other ones of the series, will be
on show at the Museum of Modern Art next year.
For a guide to the prominent features of this, the old Formal
Dining Room, select 311.
Visitors X (2016)
Factor X was formed in the aftermath of The Day the X-Men
Died from the survivors of the team and the government-sponsored
X-Factor. It would take three years until a squad from Factor
X would pass through the Savage Land. After the end of their
mission, they spent a couple of days with the United Tribes,
which was when the artist sketched this group portrait. Of
Piotr Rasputin's old teammates, only one, Wolverine, is among
those present, while three of the others are children of his
former comrades. Wolverine is standing on the left; next to
him are the squad's leader, Mystique, along with Cloudburst
(Umeme Munroe), Overdrive (Irene Cooper), Strong Guy (Guido
Carosella), Lodestone (Chris Summers) and Tribune (Daniel
Peter Wisdom With His Children (2020)
A lithograph that, according to those who knew him, nicely
captures Peter Wisdom's enigmatic smile. The famous member
of Excalibur is shown at home, sitting in his favorite upholstered
chair amidst his teenage children Margot, Rudolph and John.
The picture was originally a birthday present for Dame Katherine
Wisdom, but had a somber later history, as she used it as
an illustration to the cards she sent out to those who had
attended the funeral after her husband died of lung cancer
in 2023. Kindly lent by the owner.
The Cenotaph at Xavier Mansion (2023)
Piotr Rasputin attended the unveiling of the X-Men Cenotaph
on 2nd September, 2023, and during that visit sketched the
buildings, memorials and a number of other sights on the estate
that he then turned into a twelve-part series of lithographs
to be sold for the benefit of the Charles Francis Xavier Foundation.
He completed his task the following year. The sketch before
you was used for number five, View of the Mansion From
Memorial Park, a print of which you can see below. The
entire finished series can be seen at the Visitors' Center,
where you can also purchase individual prints or the complete
set, as well as works donated by other artists.
Supper in Harvest Time (2023)
The family of the artist's elder son family is shown in an
everyday setting, gathered around their meal at the end of
a hard day's work in autumn. Petya is serving eleven-year-old
Oleg another bowl of Savage Land Stew with a wooden ladle.
His wife Banu meanwhile is conversing with Svetlana (then
aged seven). There are a few trappings of modern civilization
to be seen in the younger Rasputins' dwelling, but not that
many more than in most of the houses of the village.
Bride, Groom, and Families (2025)
Unlike his elder brother, Volodya Rasputin chose to stay in
the outside world after graduation and became a member of
the Avengers under the name White Wolf. On 3rd July, 2024,
he married his fellow Avenger Borogove, Debbie McCoy, whom
he knew since their common school days at Xavier's School
for Gifted Youngsters. His father presented this picture to
the couple on their first wedding anniversary, and they put
it on permanent display at Avengers Mansion, where the ceremony
had been held. In a slightly expressionist line, Piotr Rasputin
reinterprets the big family photograph. In the first row you
see the bride and groom with best man Albert Stark, maid of
honor Abigail Summers and bridesmaid Gráinne Madrox. In the
back row, from left to right, are Peter Petrovich Rasputin,
his father (the artist), Nereel, Robert Drake (the bride's
foster father), Trish Tilby, Effie McCoy, and Ben McCoy.
This story belongs to the alternate timeline of the Days of
Future Twilight, which was first shown in The
Survivor Has a Different Kind of Scar. It is set ca.
2026, about six years before Survivor.
The title is obviously taken from Modest Musorgsky's suite,
perhaps not inappropriately since there is no record left
of the pictures that inspired the composer, while this is
a guide to a fictional exhibition. The inspiration for this
came from my stay in Berlin late last year, when I first encountered
the more modern type of recorded guided tour (where numbered
codes enable visitors to listen to the texts that interest
them in any order they want) for the first time in the Pergamon
Museum and the Gemäldegallerie. Part of the subplots was inspired
by discussing story ideas with Anita Olin.
The characters are (c) & TM by Marvel Comics with the
exception of Edna Krabappel and Armin Tamzarian, who are from
the Simpsons, and Cimbota, Hope Cooper, Irene Cooper-Marks
(Overdrive), Fyodor and Ivan Grigorenko, Iruzu, Juma, Gráinne
Madrox, Ben McCoy, Debbie McCoy (Borogove), Josephine 'Effie'
McCoy, The Meddlers, Umeme Munroe (Cloudburst), Niaro, Banu
and Svetlana Rasputina, Oleg Rasputin, Vsevolod Rasputin (White
Wolf), Albert Stark, Abigail Summers, Chris Summers (Lodestone),
Daniel Summers (Tribune), Margot, Rudolph and John Wisdom,
who are mine.
This story was first published in Tales
of the Twilight Menshevik: The Second Collection, which
was produced for the 150th mailing of the MZS-APA in December
2000. The MZS-APA has a website at http://users.ev1.net/~skullduggery/
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