Skip to main content

Rocky's horrible picture show? Sylvester Stallone exhibits his art in St. Petersburg

By Steve Dorsey, for CNN
November 4, 2013 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
If you thought his movies were one-dimensional, you may prefer his art work. Sylvester Stallone's exhibition "Sylvester Stallone. Painting. From 1975 Until Today" at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg is now open, running until January 13. It includes paintings such as "Champion Due," shown here, and others in a retrospective of abstract artwork. If you thought his movies were one-dimensional, you may prefer his art work. Sylvester Stallone's exhibition "Sylvester Stallone. Painting. From 1975 Until Today" at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg is now open, running until January 13. It includes paintings such as "Champion Due," shown here, and others in a retrospective of abstract artwork.
HIDE CAPTION
From silver screen to gallery wall
The artist behind the actor
Who knew Stallone painted?
Movie fans flock to art exhibit
Rocky road to acceptance
Californi-painting
Where to see Stallone the painter
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Stallone exhibition runs until January 13 in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Influenced by abstract expressionism, paintings include self-portraits of Stallone as Rambo
  • Russian communists protested the exhibition opening

(CNN) -- There's something strange about seeing Sylvester Stallone get deep and thoughtful.

It's like sitting through one of those plays where prisoners perform Shakespeare -- it's just unexpected.

Likewise, the side of Sly on show in his new art exhibit at The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, is far from the pages of People.

Dealing with themes like triumph, failure and chaos, Stallone reveals himself as a man who's more than just a gruff, muscled hero out to beat the odds, but someone who's emotional and even intellectual.

Stallone is just starting to unleash his paintings on the world. His first exhibition was in Switzerland in 2011. Apparently, Stallone's been painting for nearly 50 years -- even before he started acting.

The exhibition -- which includes three dozen paintings -- describes painting as his first love. But, an introduction reads, "due to financial problems, he had to become an actor." Because that's the first thing you do if you're poor: act.

Russia's 10 ritziest hotels

'Never Ever Land'

Stallone's work is influenced by abstract expressionism.

It's as if emotion is thrown onto the canvasses in red (Stallone's favorite color, according to the museum), black and yellow.

Each painting lives in its own world, like "Never Ever Land," 2010, where Stallone paints the downfall of Michael Jackson, who's life is collapsing around him as he's dressed in his iconic 1990s military jacket, with strands of black hair draped over his face.

Beyond the recurrent self-portraits of himself as his legendary "Rocky" character bleeding in a boxing ring, there are also more whimsical paintings, including one in which Stallone scrawled phrases like "Time, Billy Bob," "The Arts Endure You" and "Whores."

Celebrity status

When it comes to modern art, Stallone is no Andy Warhol -- though the exhibit does feature photos Warhol took of his friend Stallone.

Many of the visitors crowding into the museum's narrow halls say they never knew Stallone painted. They come because they're fans of his movies, like 20-year-old Daniel Schneider, visiting from Moscow.

"He's very popular. So many people have seen his films in Russia."

But that's about as far as Stallone's talent goes, he says. "It's not good. But there are some interesting elements."

St. Petersburg: Best sights in city of tsars

Others have a more imaginative view of Stallone the painter.

"I think it's a new system for Sylvester Stallone to explain his creativity," says Italian tourist Maiolino Alessandro.

Russian communists don't like his art though. They unsuccessfully protested the opening of the exhibition because of Stallone's role in "Rambo," in which he goes on a communist-killing crusade.

Expect the unexpected

Even if you don't enjoy Stallone's work, on- or off-screen, it may be worth the visit if only to see the Italian Stallion in a different light.

The exhibition runs through January 13.

The State Russian Museum, St. Michael's Castle, 2 Sadovaya Street, and The Marble Palace, 5/1 Millionnaya Street, St. Petersburg, Russia; +7 812 313 41 12; open Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; tickets for adults RUB 300 ($9.91), students RUB 150 ($4.95)

40 years since death: Bruce Lee exhibition

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1001 GMT (1801 HKT)
Photographer gives Hong Kong skyscrapers a radical new look.
August 16, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
A cage-free shark photographer gets up close and personal with the ocean's most feared predators.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1428 GMT (2228 HKT)
Conde Nast Traveler reader survey praises antipodean cities but gives South Africa's biggest city a wide berth.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
After the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Canal, here are 10 other ways to fall in love with the country.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 0349 GMT (1149 HKT)
In Taiwan, tourists pay to ride along in local cabs, letting fate -- and locals fares -- decide where they'll go.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
It's largely devoid of human life, dark, cold and subject to dangerous levels of geological volatility -- the Arctic is surely the worst possible destination for an arts festival.
Zurich, Switzerland
It may be Switzerland's banking capital, but Zurich's real wealth lies in the village-like charm of its cobbled streets and Alpine scenery.
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 1854 GMT (0254 HKT)
We've all wondered what it's like to die. Now an outfit in Shanghai says it can provide the experience.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 0115 GMT (0915 HKT)
Our special report details who, what and how much it takes to bring you the best in IFE (we'll explain).
August 13, 2014 -- Updated 0632 GMT (1432 HKT)
What pizza is to New York and the cheesesteak is to Philly, the food truck has become to Los Angeles -- essential
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0903 GMT (1703 HKT)
If you've ever clicked on a list of forests to see before you die, chances are you've already seen a photo of this stunner.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 0018 GMT (0818 HKT)
The military coup in Thailand has led to a massive change in Phuket, weeding out decades of misuse and abuse at one of the world's most popular holiday destinations.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0956 GMT (1756 HKT)
With a mix of Indian, African, French and Chinese influences, Mauritius represents a cultural smorgasbord.
August 8, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
There's nothing like high drama on a beach.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0957 GMT (1757 HKT)
Home to big game, sparkling beaches, and stunning sunsets, Malawi makes for an idyllic travel destination.
ADVERTISEMENT