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"Tales of the Twilight Menshevik"

Stories in this series:

Sisters under Their Skins
Midnight Sun
A Year in the Life
October 6: A Night 2 Remember
A Day's Work
Late Summer Interlude
The Time the Twain Shall Meet
Message to a Grandchild
Ergo Bibamus 1: Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Lights in the Dark
Between the Woods and Frozen Lake
Ergo Bibamus 2: There's a Tavern Near the Town
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue
Valentine Allsorts
The Ballad of Trish and Henry
Rogue's Fairy Tale
Magneto, My First Love
To My Dark-Haired Lady
The Raven and the Oriole
Trish -- A Rapture

Val and Ray at the Movies
March 2002
July 2002

Tales of Future Twilight
Ergo Bibamus 3: Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes
They Will Always Be Penny and Max to Me
Getting to Know You
Fourth Thursday in November
The Iceman's Tale
Pictures at an Exhibition
The Survivor Has a Different Kind of Scar

Twilight Yet to Come
Hang on to Your Ego
Strange Headfellows
Sonnet for Magnus
Between the Winds

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 ( 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, 2013.
You can find the other Tales archived on "Fonts of Wisdom," "Down-Home Charm," "MissyRedX: The Average Website," and "Stacy's Fan-Fiction Page."

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 010.

For a brief history of the X-Men and the related teams, please press 020.

For an outline of the aims of the Xavier Foundation, please press 030.

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 Art.

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 the spanner.

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 comics."

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 Ural."

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 posthumously.

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 the counterpoint.

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 159.

Alexandra (1992)

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 select 159.

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 in Australia.

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 for Piotr."
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 at it...."
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 fall for..."

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, Ororo?"
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 favorite bar..."
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, undressed..."
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 torso."
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.

Meggan (1995)

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.

Waiting (1996)

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 cinematic costumes.

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 border.

Idol (2003)

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 of Stalin.

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 story.

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.

Recess (2008)

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 Summers).

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.

Copyright Note:
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


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