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    MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti's Yelena Titarenko) - An exhibition, Russia and Europe: Lasting Ties and Broad Prospects, is opening at Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery on Friday. The lecture will be devoted to the European Union's enlargement. European Commission President Romano Prodi is expected to deliver a lecture before the opening.

    The project was sponsored by the Tretyakov Gallery in cooperation with Ireland, which is holding the rotating EU chairmanship, and the European Commission representation in Russia, Tretyakov Gallery press secretary Yelena Zaitseva told RIA Novosti.

    The exhibition will feature classical landscapes and genre-pieces, avant-garde and art nouveau pictures, and pictures and drawings by Soviet and modern Russian artists from the Gallery's collection and private collections.

    This is a somewhat symbolic exposition, according to Tatyana Nazarenko, who will take part in the exhibition. It will offer Russian artists' viewing of Europe.

    In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Russian artists were attracted, above all, by Italy, the center of artistic life in Europe in those days. The best students of the Russian Emperor's Academy of Arts were sent to study in Italy.

    Since the late 19th century, Russian artists focused on France. Close cultural ties with that country lasted into the 20th century. France's artistic innovations had a profound influence on many Russian painters.

    In the early 20th century, Germany emerged as a focus of new ideas in arts. The Munich Secession and the Berlin Secession societies were the cradles of German Art Nouveau.

    Cultural contacts between Russia and Europe decreased dramatically in the first half of the 20th century over social cataclysms in Russia and the two world wars.

    These ties began to be revived in the 1950s-1970s, when Soviet artists began visiting European countries as tourists.

    The 1980s and the 1990s offered more opportunities as Russian artists were paying more frequent visits to European countries, where they became increasingly popular.

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