About Guardians

They are the guardians of the country’s masterpieces, but also of much more. This series of photographs reflects the singular role that these women play in both the Russian art world and society as a whole.

—from the introduction by Clifford J. Levy,
Moscow bureau chief of the New York Times

In his book Guardians, photographer Andy Freeberg has captured whimsical and poetic images of women who guard the art in the great museums of Russia. In 2008 and 2009 Freeberg shot the 36 color photographs that appear in the book at four Russian museums: the Hermitage and Russian State Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Tretyakov Gallery and Pushkin Museum in Moscow.

In many of the photographs the women magically assume characteristics of the art they guard. One woman with a blue and white sweater draped over her shoulders sits beside a Matisse still life, whose blue tablecloth could be cut from the same material. Some of the guardians watch over paintings whose subjects suggest younger versions of themselves. And one woman, poised in a room of European masterpieces, appears to have emerged from a Vermeer.

The Guardians series caught attention as a winner of the 2008 Critical Mass book award, which was selected by a jury of 200 museum curators, editors, and art professionals. The book is being published by Photolucida and will be available in early 2010.