Exhibitions 2003-2006

Exhibitions 2003-2006

Connecting Museums

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
June 18–October 20, 2002
Guggenheim, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna and the State Hermitage were highlighted with selected masterpieces from their collections. A group of focused exhibitions concurrently on view at three venues, Connecting Museumsbrings together one major and important work of art from each partner: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the State Hermitage Museum, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum. By showing three paintings at each museum–nine paintings in all–Connecting Museumspresents carefully selected masterpieces that represent the particular strengths of each institution. This series of exhibitions constructs a dialogue among three apparently disparate works, and by extension three unique collections, highlighting ways in which our three museums, each world-renowned for distinctive reasons, complement and reinforce one another.


2003 Ivan Aivazovsky from Russian Museum Collections
curated by David Hasan, Retretti Art Center in Punkaharju, Finland


Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism

Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin January 18- April 27 2003 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum May 13–September 14, 2003 The menil Collection, Houston, October 3 – January 11 2004

No one would accuse Kazimir Malevich, the charismatic leader of Russia’s ill-fated avant-garde, of false modesty. When it came to naming the art form he invented in 1915, he chose “Suprematism.” As in supreme. History confirms the judgment. His seminal paintings, starting with the infamous Black Square, proposed a stunningly simple mode of abstract painting that was revolutionary in its influence. Malevich hung Black Square in the upper corner of a room, the very space that would be reserved for a religious icon in a Russian home. Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism is the first exhibition to focus exclusively on this art of pure geometric form. In addition to paintings and drawings, the selection also includes the artist’s “architektons”—three-dimensional models for never-to-be-realized buildings—and even a Suprematist teapot. Organized by Matthew Drutt, who conceived the exhibition while a member of the Guggenheim staff but is now Chief Curator at Houston’s Menil Collection, the exhibition introduces the public to many recently rediscovered masterpieces that were hidden away from the time of the artist’s death during the most harrowing years of Stalinism until after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This exhibition was first shown at Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin where it had the largest number of visitors in that space. Later it was on view at the Guggenheim in New York and the Menil Collection in Houston. The catalogue, the curator Matthew Drutt wrote:

“I am also once again most indebted to Nicolas V. Iljine, European Representative of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, for the important role he played throughout the inception and realization of the exhibition.” “I would also like to extend my special thanks to Nina N. Suetina for providing the original diaries of Kazimir Malevich, which were of great value to the authors”

In 1915,’ Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935) changed the future of . Modern art when his experiments in painting led the Russian avant-garde into pure abstraction. He called his innovation Suprematism art of pure geometric form meant to be universally comprehensible regardless of cultural or ethnic origin. His Suprematist masterpieces, including Black Square (1915) and White Square on White (1920-27), continue to inspire artists throughout the world.

Accompanying the first exhibition to focus exclusively on this defining moment in Malevich’s- career, Kazimir Malevich; Suprematism features nearly 120 paintings, drawings, and objects, among them several recently rediscovered master- works. In addition, the book includes previously unpublished letters, texts, and diaries, along with essays by. international scholars, who shed new light on this influential figure and his devotion to the spiritual in art.

Essays by Matthew Drutt, Nina Gunanova, Jean-Claude Marcade. Tatiana Mikhienko, Evgenia Petrova, and Vasilii Rakitin ■ 272 pages; 180 illustrations, 120 in full color.

For this exhibition I designed a limited edition (200) set of 3 cufflings with three famous Malevich motives. It was produced in Moscow in 925 silver with incrusted enamel and was being sold for 195,00 Euros.

An Incident in the Museum and other Installations Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, The State Hermitage 22.6.-26.8.2004

Hermitage Press Release:

“On 22 June 2004 the first large exhibition in Russia of works by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov opened in the General Staff building. The exhibition signifies the return of the artists to their homeland after their departure abroad in 1988. The exhibition has been organized by the State Hermitage together with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the Stella Art Gallery, Moscow. Support has been provided by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. The show presents several installations and includes more than 80 drawings, 16 paintings, and sketches, design models and photographs from various museums and private collections with commentary from the artist.

Ilya Kabakov is a very famous Russian artist whose works enjoy high demand and are considered to be classics of modern art. He has created more than 200 installations in a number of different countries. His works are found in the collections of many museums around the globe, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Centre Georges Pompidou as well as the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, and the Museum fur Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, to name several.

Ilya Kabakov was born on 30 September 1933 in the city of Dnepropetrovsk. From 1945 to 1951 he studied art in Moscow, where he graduated in 1957 from the V.I. Surikov Art Institute with a specialty in graphic design. During the 1950’s he worked as a book illustrator while experimenting with several forms of abstract art. Ilya Kabakov became one of the main figures in the Moscow underground, specifically in the community of artists and intellectuals that was known as the Conceptualists’ Circle. During the 1960’s and ‘70’s, this group worked on a number of different artistic projects including poetry, visual art and films.

At the end of the 1980’s, Ilya Kabakov’s words were exhibited in Germany, Switzerland and Spain, and they were included in several exhibitions in the United States of America. Then there were exhibitions in the Venice Biennale in 1992, in the Dokumenta in Kassel, Germany, and also in the Biennale of the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1997. Ilya Kabakov’s works attracted the attention of art critics in many different countries and ensured him a reputation as an artist of world importance.

At the present time Ilya Kabakov and his wife Emilia, who has been directly involved in all installations since 1989, lives in New York. Kabakov became famous in the West as the author of a very specific genre, the Total Installation, which creates a special atmosphere by combining pictures, texts, objects and sounds.

“The whole exhibition is constructed in such a way as to fit in with the existing decor,” the artist told journalists at the press conference. Three installations, design models and drawings are distributed among four halls in the General Staff building. The first hall presents preliminary drawings and photographs of works completed after 1988 which made the artist famous. The second room contains his gifts to the Hermitage: the two modest sized installations, Toilet in the Corner (1992) and In the Closet. “These two exhibits mark the beginning of our collection of art from the late 20th century,” said State Hermitage Director Mikhail Piotrovsky at the opening of the exhibition.

The next room displays projects which have not yet been implemented. They are amazing in their ambitious scale and comprehensiveness. The exhibition concludes with a total installation entitled Incident in the Museum. As the artist explained, this room once was supposed to be the venue for a lecture and exhibition of his works, but some unforeseen development thwarted those plans. By the order of a commission, everything was left as it was at that moment. For the sake of security and better observation, visitors traverse the room on a wooden bridge and there are binoculars available so that one can look down at the floor where there are little figures of men all moving in one direction.”

This was the first time Ilya Kabakov returned to Russia after over 20 years of emigration. I organized the sponsorship by Stella Kessaeva and assisted the artists with the installation.



2005 Andy Warhol Exhibition at the Tretyakov Gallery, State Russian Museum and Samara Art Museum.

Tom Krens asked me to help ALCOA arrange this exhibition in Russia. I travelled with their foundation executive to Moscow, St.Petersburg and Samara to negotiate with the museums and also helped arranging a 200.000 $ gift to the Tretyakov Gallery for renovating the space on the third floor where the Andy Warhol exhibition was exhibited.


“Andy Warhol, the Pittsburgh artist whose knack for turning celebrities into icons and creating memorable imagery from consumerist culture won him international acclaim, may attract a whole new audience this fall when 330 of his works go on tour in three major Russian cities.

Andy Warhol: The Artist of Modern Life is the largest exhibition of the pop artist’s work ever seen in the former Soviet Union.

The traveling exhibition represents the biggest undertaking by the Andy Warhol Museum’s staff since it mounted a 1996 show called Andy Warhol: The Mirror of His Time, which toured four cities in Japan.

Tom Sokolowski, director of the museum, said the artist saw that “consumerism would become a universal language, and, to some, even a religion. Once the shackles of Communism were removed, people in former Communist countries were going to want those Zegna ties and those clicky pumps by Manolo Blahnik.”

Visitors to three museums will see 150 photographs, 75 drawings, 75 paintings, 30 prints, some films, sculpture and “Time Capsules,” which were boxes of ephemera Warhol collected from his daily life.

The exhibition opens Sept. 13 in Moscow at the State Tretyakov Gallery and is sponsored by Alcoa. The show’s second stop is The Ludwig Museum at St. Petersburg’s State Russian Museum, and its third is the central Russian city of Samara, which is 500 miles southeast of Moscow. The last stop is Belaya Kalitva. Alcoa owns plants in Samara and Belaya Kalitva.

This year, Warhol’s ability to blur the boundaries of commercial and high art will be on view throughout much of the United States, too. On Sept. 24, the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, D.C., opens a show with 170 works called The Warhol Legacy: Selections From the Andy Warhol Museum. Opening that same day is Andy Warhol, A to Z: A Retrospective of the Work of the Master of Pop at the Flint Institute of Arts in Flint, Mich.

Dia Beacon, a large museum in Beacon, N.Y., continues its show, Dia’s Andys, through April 2006.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M., has 13 of Warhol’s works on display in Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol: Flowers of Distinction, which closes Jan. 8.

Alain Belda, Alcoa chairman and chief executive officer, said the company and its foundation had a tradition of supporting Soviet art that dates to 1977, when it served as chief sponsor of Russia and Soviet Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. That tradition continues this year when this fall’s exhibition of RUSSIA! opens at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Five years ago, the U.S. Department of State sponsored a small exhibition with 40 of Warhol’s works in St. Petersburg.

During a three-day symposium there, John Smith, assistant director for collections, exhibitions and research at the Andy Warhol Museum, lectured in an opulent auditorium attached to the Hermitage museum. His audience wanted to know if Warhol’s work represented a celebration or a critique of America’s consumerist culture.

“I think it can be read in both ways. He didn’t have a manifesto. He left that to the viewer to decide,” said Smith, who will travel to Russia next month to oversee the new show’s installation.

Smith believes Russians will be fascinated by the exhibition, partly because of the booming market in American art among Soviet collectors.

“There’s a huge market for American art in Russia. Wealthy Russians are collecting art. Work that was banned during the Cold War is now being snapped up in Moscow,” Smith said.

While Warhol is exhibited in Moscow, a Soviet curator will stage a show of contemporary Russian art on the same museum floor in nearby galleries.

“Here we’ve got the person who defined pop art in the world juxtaposed with the Russian experience of pop art,” said Kathleen W. Buechel, president and treasurer of the Alcoa Foundation. She declined to say how much of a grant the foundation is giving to the Andy Warhol Museum to fund the exhibition.

The Russian exhibition will generate revenue for the Pittsburgh museum and allow its employees to forge partnerships with Russian museum professionals, according to Colleen Russell Criste, director of external affairs at the Warhol.

Visually, the show revolves around Warhol’s numerous portraits of celebrities, politicians and his still lifes of Campbell’s soup cans, sculptures made of Heinz boxes as well as images of skulls, knives, guns, hammers and sickles.

“What does an image of Mao mean?” Smith asked, adding that while Americans see him as a repressive figure of Communist China, Russians’ reaction to Warhol’s portraits of the leader may be more ambivalent and complex.

Jessica Gogan, director of education at the Andy Warhol Museum, is fluent in French, a language that will be useful when she travels to Russia this year. Her task will be to make the artist’s work relevant to Russian students. If possible, she plans to design an online curriculum that students can use after the exhibition closes.

“This is the first time we’ve done an international education art program,” Gogan said, adding that the frameworks must be flexible and show how Warhol was fascinated by everyday life and events.

Gogan may do a segment on collecting because Warhol amassed boxes of ephemera that he called “Time Capsules.” Russian students may be asked to collect stories, photographs or examples of the Soviet youth culture.

Buechel said the goal of the exhibition was to build partnerships between cultural organizations in the United States and Russia while fostering cultural and educational programming overseas.”



Mappelthorpe and the Classical Tradition

This richly illustrated catalogue is dedicated to the exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition: Photographs and Mannerist prints (8 December, 2004 – 16 January, 2005 ) held in the Hermitage Museum. It displays around 70 photographs from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and around 50 Mannerist prints from the collection of the State Hermitage dating back to the 16th century.

Image: Phaeton 16th century. Hendrick Goltzius after Cornelisz. Engraving

The State Hermitage Museum is proud to present the exhibition ”Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition: Photographs and Mannerist prints”, organized by the State Hermitage Museum and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

The exhibition will be on display from December 8, 2004 to January 16, 2005 and explores the classical photography of Robert Mapplethorpe mirrored in the dramatic yet graceful work of 16th-century Dutch and Flemish Mannerist prints by artists such as Hendrick Goltzius, Jan Harmensz. Muller, Jacob Matham, and Jan Saenredam, themselves inspired by classical and Italian art. The exhibition focuses on Mapplethorpe’s relationship to the elaborate forms of Mannerist art, in particular the study of the human form in all its sensuous manifestations.

Deeply rooted in Italian art, Mannerism was an international movement and style which arose after the death of Raphael in 1520 for about one century.

When Mapplethorpe tragically died at the young age of 42, he was considered one of the most important photographers of his time. His elegant and sometimes shocking nudes, the black-and-white portraits, flowers, and still-lives, as well as the powerful, often surprisingly tender images of sexual sadomasochism, have had an undeniable impact on the art world.

From Michelangelo to Antonio Canova, Mapplethorpe was inspired by Renaissance sculpture and the elegance of late-18th-century neoclassicism. In his quest for the ideal form, Mapplethorpe described photography as ”the perfect way to make a sculpture” A selection of sculptures in the exhibition highlights the dialogue of Mapplethorpe’s photographs and the Mannerist prints with classical antiquity, further illustrating their compelling relationship and a broader understanding of the history of art.

Mapplethorpe described photography as ”the perfect way to make a sculpture” He looked for perfection in form with every subject he talked, ripe with sculptural tension, are imbued with an erotic ambiguity. Furthermore, the classical ideal was not only a poetic inspiration for him but also an ethical model that he sought to emulate throughout his short life. Mapplethorpe was trained in painting and sculpture and his early interest focused on the nature of the painterly and sculptural processes. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Mapplethorpe juxtaposed images of neoclassical monuments with those of his own nude body, where the positions of the live figure mimed exactly the positions on the statue.

He combined harmonious sculptural excellence with photographic absoluteness, and by uniting historical sculpture with the model Mapplethorpe strove to mirror art in life and art in photography. In his way, he was able to express radical themes in typical historical terms. Partaking of classical naturalism, his compositions are meticulously thought out and reflect a highly detailed perusal of figural gestures, from the Antiquity and perfection of Michelangelo to the elegance of 18th and 19th century artists, such as Auguste Rodin, with whom he shared an attraction to Eros and sensuality of chiseled bodies. The vital anatomical forms of his portraits, such as the female bodybuilder Lisa Lyons and the statuesque dancer Derrick Cross, find their roots in Antiquity, and here find their mirror in the highly expressive and sculptural 16th-century prints of Jan Harmensz. Miller’s The Rape of the Sabine Women and Jacob Matham’s muscled and dynamic Apollo in the Clouds darting through the picture plane. Mapplethorpe’s effective minimal black and white palette, through which he explored paradoxes and relationships, expresses a certain poetic and melancholy quality, while the Mannerists’s magisterial tours de force are rendered through startling light, texture, and three-dimensionality.

The exhibition’s curators are Arkady Ippolitov, Curator of Italian Prints, The State Hermitage Museum, and Germano Celant, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York with assistance of Karole Vail, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.




Также посмотрите Mapplethorpe’s Rooms  Stella Art Foundation in Skaryatinsky pereulok  February 18 – March 31, 2005

Stella Art Foundation presents an exhibition of an outstanding American artist Robert Mapplethorpe. The exposition consists X, of three portfolios Y, Z. All vintage photographs kindly provided by the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.

The three portfolios, 39 photographs in number, will be accompanied by 12 photographs more, including his late ones, among which his Self-Portrait (1988), made a year before his death. Therefore, the exhibition in Stella Art Foundation gives a unique opportunity to get a retrospective review of Robert Mapplethorpe’s oeuvre, the art, which has always been the subject of study.

or instance, an aesthetic sensibility of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs, which combines beauty with obscenity, light with shadow, composition equilibrium with symmetry, inspired the curators of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the State Hermitage Museum to launch a project Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition. Photographs and Mannerist Prints. After its tour, within the framework of which the exhibition was shown in Berlin and then in St. Petersburg, nowadays the exposition has moved to the Moscow House of Photography. However, in contrast to the Guggenheim project, the aim of which was to juxtapose the photographs of the XX century artist and the prints of Dutch artists and to explore common features between them, the exhibition in Stella Art Foundation will introduce a different Mapplethorpe – Mapplethorpe, who is known as an “icon of gay-culture”, who shot sado-masochists, black male bodies, genitalia and sexual flowers, whose exhibitions always provoked scandals (one of such scandalous stories was assumed as a plot for Hollywood movie Filthy Photos).


“Camera offers a perfect chance to lie. If you do not like the gesture or the expression – you do not take their photographs. That is the usual way we lie. But this is exactly where my personal truth takes root. It is my experience, my memory”, – Robert Mapplethorpe used to say.

Time has proved that Mapplethorpe’s “personal truth” is of interest to the world at large. After the artist’s death his solo exhibitions have travelled around all major museums of the world, attracting thousands of visitors. As for his works they have replenished the most famous private collections. Regarding their scandalousness, it is essential to quote some critics: “If the spectators concentrate entirely on the obscenity, they will see only the obscenity. They will neither see the design, nor the chiaroscuro, or the composition. They cannot see art… Mapplethorpe’s real art is not the photography, but a performative art: strange as it may seem, those spectators who censor him, only confirm his rightness. They suppose that they deny obscenity, however, in fact, they simply prove that obscenity – is the only thing they can perceive”.

Stella Art Foundation realizes that some photographs may cause ambiguous feelings among the audience. That is why only people of the full legal age (on passport presentation) will be allowed to see all the rooms of the exhibition.

An illustrated catalogue was published




Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
September 16, 2005-January 11, 2006

This Show later also went to Guggenheim Bilbao. This was the most ambitions retrospective of Russian art 13 C-20C. I discussed all the arrangements with Kremlin to arrange the opening in New York by RF President V.V.Putin. It was his second visit to the Guggenheim and he praised the institution and talked about Russian Art as a good method of furthering understanding between the nations. The exhibition was sponsored by Vladimir Potanin and cosponsored by Leonid Lebedev.  President Putin spent 30 minutes discussing matters with the sponsors and selected trustees. Tom Krens showed him photos of his son Nick at Joseph Brodsky’s grave, discussed the different branches of the Guggenheim empire but only elicited a presidential smile and lively reaction when he showed him the gift of a Russian friend: A Kalashnikov shaped bottle of vodka. After explaining that the famous Russian scientist Dimitri Ivanovich Mendeleev (1834-1907), besides establishing  the table of periodic elements  allegedly specified that vodka should be 40 degrees of alcohol. The president took such a liking to the tourist present that he handed it over to a bodyguard who whisked it out of the Director’s Ofice where we were meeting.



RUSSIA! explores the vast and complex historical phenomenon embodied by the word “Russia” through the lens of the greatest masterworks of Russian art from the 13th century to today. The exhibition also includes works from the world-class collections amassed by Russian tsars and merchants. With more than 250 objects, including many that have never been seen abroad, the exhibition presents a unique opportunity to consider and study the breadth, depth, and complexity of Russian art.


 The show is organized by a team of Russian and American specialists who have structured this presentation as a series of smaller exhibitions that when added together tell the remarkable and interconnected history of Russian art over the last eight centuries. The exhibition also demonstrates Russia’s outstanding achievements in and contributions to the history of world art that extend far beyond the already well-known and revered Russian icons and avant-garde. The spiral of the museum is filled with Russian art—including icons, portraiture in both painting and sculpture from the 18th through the 20th centuries, social and Socialist Realist works since the 19th century, landscapes through the centuries, pioneering abstraction, and experimental contemporary art. Two galleries house selections of European masterworks amassed by Peter and Catherine the Great during the 18th century and collected by the early-20th-century connoisseurs Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov. These collections testify to the courage and foresight of Russian collectors and highlight the interesting relationship between Russia and the West since the 18th century. The broad historical scope coupled with works of the highest quality result in an exhibition that is one of the most representative in the whole history of Russian art exhibitions held abroad.

While the exhibition is organized in chronological order, specific themes and approaches are explored, which illuminate the greatest achievements of Russian art. These themes include:

The Age of the Icon: 13th–17th Centuries includes a partial reconstruction of a monastery through the inclusion of the Deesis Tier of the famous iconostasis of the Kirillo-Belozersk Monastery, which has been dispersed among four Russian museums since nationalization. This impressive set of images is brought to life through a dramatic exhibition design that transports the viewer to another time and place. Within this section is also a small but outstanding selection of icons representing the most important subjects and schools including one work by each of the most famous Russian icon painters, Andrei Rublev and Dionysii, and a version of one the most revered icons, the Virgin of Vladimir, which was painted in 1514. These works demonstrate how Russian artists absorbed and relied upon the Byzantine model, even as they transformed it and created their own style and artistic language.

The 18th Century (the reigns of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great). During the 18th century Russian artists moved beyond icon painting and captured their times through portraits of the tsars and nobility and through representations of the changing landscape of the Russian nation. During this period, Russian artists were exposed to the European tradition through the outstanding collections of Western art made available to them at Catherine’s Hermitage and through travels abroad made possible by the Academy of Art founded under her patronage. As was the case with their contemporaries in other countries, Russian artists’ encounters with masterworks from the history of art provided them with a living textbook. But also like their colleagues abroad, they brought to bear their own context, talents, and interests on these models, thus producing unique works of the highest caliber. This section begins with Western works from imperial collections and then presents portraiture of the 18th century, which is intimately connected with the world of the Russian aristocracy, and neoclassical academic painting.

The 19th Century (from Romanticism to critical realism). The brilliance and diversity of Russian art in the first half of this century has contributed to its being dubbed “The Golden Age” of Russian art. In the second half of the century, Russian artists took a path that diverged from the West. The group of artists that formed in the 1860s and is known historically as the Wanderers emphasized the high social mission of art, using art as a tool for social commentary and criticism. Like many of their literary contemporaries, the Wanderers stressed the importance of man and his individuality. In their emphasis on the content of the artistic work, Russian artists departed drastically from the reigning Europe tendencies in that period, which focussed almost exclusively on formal quests. This section, which strongly reflects the taste of the legendary collector Pavel Tretyakov, whose collection is in the State Tretyakov Gallery, will demonstrate that art collecting was by no means confined to the acquisition of Western art.


Shchukin and Morozov. Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov were Moscow merchants and art connoisseurs who amassed collections that included some of the most important examples of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Fauvist, and Cubist works, including paintings by Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso. These collections exerted a strong influence on the generation of Russian artists that emerged in the early 20th century. However, the Russian artists fused the diverse Western influences with national traditions, such as the icon and folk art, creating a vision uniquely their own.

The Early 20th Century (Avant-Garde) was a time when many Russian artists returned to their national roots, to the ancient Russian icon and indigenous folk art, sources that allowed them to elaborate a new artistic language that was no less abstract and conventional than that of the prototypes. This generation merged Russian and European influences to pioneer a succession of radical movements in rapid succession including Cubo-Futurism, Rayonism, Suprematism, Constructivism, and others. While in the past a great deal of emphasis has been placed on abstraction in early-20th-century Russian art, this exhibition equally stresses the point that the tradition of figurative art continued to thrive at a time when Russian artists produced some of the most innovative artworks in the history of art. The pioneering work of these artists had a major influence on the development of 20th-century international art.

The Soviet Era: ca. 1930–1957 (Socialist Realism through the Thaw) is strongly associated with the official doctrine for art known as Socialist Realism, which was established in 1934. Long seen as merely propaganda or historical curiosity, this style nonetheless produced highly talented artists, both official and unofficial. The main turning point away from the propagandistic approach that characterized Soviet art of the 1930s was the Great Patriotic War (World War II), when artists began to move beyond absolute idealism in art.

The Late- and Post-Soviet Era: 1957–present. This section charts developments in Soviet art between Stalin’s death and the end of the Cold War and further documents attempts by artists to combat the standardization of Socialist Realism. In the wake of Stalin’s death in 1953, many artists began to explore more personal approaches and subjects. In 1957 the new leader of the Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev, denounced the cult of Stalin’s personality and his abuses of power. This period, which lasted until the mid-1960s and became known as the Thaw, led to greater liberties in artistic style and inaugurated a new era in Soviet art and culture. Beginning in the 1960s a growing number of artists worked unofficially in styles that did not conform to the rules of Socialist Realism and often explicitly criticized Soviet ideology and the state. This section concludes with select works by contemporary Russian artists that highlight the ongoing presence and strength of Russian art on the international scene.

The works in the exhibition are on loan from Russia’s greatest museums—the State Russian Museum, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Hermitage Museum, and the Kremlin Museum—as well as regional museums, private collections, and a select number of museums and private collections outside of Russia. According to Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, “This exhibition will serve as a unique opportunity to introduce the international public to the most valued artistic treasures culled from Russia’s greatest museums.”

–Adapted from an essay by Valerie Hillings, Curatorial Assistant, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.


Russia is the largest country on earth, covering one-eighth of the world’s land surface. It is nearly twice as large as the United States, and spans 11 time zones. Russia stretches east from the Baltic Sea across the northernmost stretches of Europe, through Central Asia, all the way to the western edge of the Pacific Ocean north of China. In the middle of the 20th century it was even larger. Then called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) or Soviet Union, it included a number of now independent nations, such as Estonia and Kazakhstan.

Russia, known today also as the Russian Federation, has played a huge role in the history of the 20th century as the center of two major political upheavals. The first came in 1917, when Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik Party established communism, and the second in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed.

For hundreds of years before this, there were essentially two kinds of Russians. One group, the nobles, inherited and bequeathed fortunes and property. The other vastly larger group, the peasants, barely had enough to survive. The role of the poor was to perform services from which the rich would benefit, but the rich had little obligation in return. Contempt grew among the peasants throughout the 19th century, but few felt that they had the power to change things. While the poor lived in dirtfloored huts on a diet of thin soup and heavy bread, the wealthy had several homes, and a steady stream of parties, balls, and social visits. Life was very pleasant for the Russian elite. By the late 19th century, however, several tsars had noticed growing discontent among the poor and began to realize that if they were going to stay in power they would have to be perceived as doing something for the people. In 1861 serfdom was abolished; peasants who had formerly been forced to stay on a particular piece of land could move to cities, hire themselves out as laborers on a noble’s land, or become small, independent farmers. The number of schools for Russian children skyrocketed, as did the number and size of universities. Many poor children learned to read. With literacy and urbanization ordinary Russians began to form ideas about their place in Russian society. Along with the poor, a growing middle class and university-educated intellectuals increasingly resented the power of the rich. Rumors of revolution were in the air.

In 1917, the Russians ended the rule of the tsars whose luxurious lifestyle had robbed the people of a decent livelihood. Lenin and the Bolshevik Party established communism, a system where every business—including farms—was owned collectively by all the members of the society. From the Soviet perspective, collectivism allowed the fruits of society’s labors to be fairly distributed. This new country, the Soviet Union, was the first world communist state. Sadly, however, the Russian people only ended up trading one set of uncaring masters for another. Life for the common people was one of oppression under both sets of rulers.

The USSR had a totalitarian political system in which Communist Party leaders held political and economic power. The state owned all companies and land, and the government controlled production of goods and other aspects of the economy. Years later, although the Russian people could be proud that the Soviet Union had put the first man into space and won many gold medals at the Olympics, they were still hungry, overtaxed, and unable to get decent housing.

In 1991, the USSR broke apart and Russia became an independent country. After the end of over 70 years of communist rule, today’s Russians, finally liberated from the excesses of both the tsars and the Soviets, have taken the first steps toward freedom. Russia has begun to transform itself into a more democratic society with an economy based on market mechanisms and principles. There have been free elections at all levels of government; private ownership of property has been legalized; and large segments of the economy are now privately owned.

The new Russian Federation faces new challenges. Arms control, the safeguarding of nuclear materials, combating environmental pollution, and the development of legal and economic institutions to support Russia’s reorganized society and economy are some of the important issues that will accompany this nation into the 21st century.








Reflections: Socialist Realism and Russian Art

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
October 5, 2005 – January 22, 2006

As a special companion to RUSSIA!, the Sackler Center for Arts Education at the Guggenheim presents Reflections: Socialist Realism and Russian Art, an exhibition of twenty-five paintings from the collection of Raymond and Susan Johnson and The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis.

Socialist Realism was the official style of Soviet art from the mid-1930s until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It emerged as the result of the state’s efforts to intensify and codify its control over the arts and was charged with transforming the nation’s inhabitants into Soviet citizens—in the words of one of its leading spokesmen, Andrei Zhdanov, effecting the “ideological remolding and education of working people in the spirit of socialism.” Toward this end, Socialist Realist artworks were to portray the radiant Communist future rather than the actual, often grim conditions of Soviet life.

Particularly in the West, Socialist Realism has often been dismissed as Communist kitsch, mere political propaganda monolithic in form and lacking in artistic merit. While this criticism is undoubtedly warranted in many cases, Reflections: Socialist Realism and Russian Art indicates that this is clearly not true of all Socialist Realist artworks. Reflections evokes the breadth of Socialist Realism—its impressive range of techniques, themes, and genres—as well as the technical virtuosity of many of its practitioners. It also indicates some of the ways Soviet artists inventively negotiated the boundaries of Socialist Realism, producing works of subtle beauty that managed to question the style’s utopian message while also expressing a unique creative vision.

Reflections: Socialist Realism and Russian Art, 10/05/2005 – 01/22/2006, exhibition views

This Exhibition has been coorganized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, and The Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn.

26 September to 12 November 2006

During the installation in Bonn the Guggenheim curators & installers had a special room for briefings, computers and private bags. Once I went in and no one was there; I saw Valerie Hillings’s mac and went there to write the following email to Nic Iljine: “Dear Nic, Its pretty boring in the evenings, why don’t you come to my hotel room 157 and we can drink champagne and have some private fun ?”

Nic Iljine answered from his mac “Dear Val, I fully understand your predicament but please excuse me: I am a happily married man and do not do such things!”  When senior curator Dr.Hillings read this she turned bright red and was  understandably quite furious but later forgave me for this schoolboy prank …

Frank Lloyd Wright’s extraordinary design for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1943 – 1959) on Fifth Avenue in New York defined the Guggenheim in terms of architecture. Almost forty years later, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by Frank O. Gehry, went even further in branding the name and unique character of the Guggenheim in the popular mind.

Over the past two decades, the Guggenheim Foundation has solicited some two dozen architectural proposals for additional museums and galleries around the world. This exhibition is the first to bring together these designs, many of which have never been seen by the public. In addition to architectural models, the diverse materials on view point to the rapid evolution of techniques of architectural representation, from perspective drawing and blueprints to computer renderings, animation, and virtual simulation of spaces.

The Guggenheim Architecture traces and defines a critical evolution of the art museum and investigates architects’ personal relationships to art. It stresses the critical importance of developing museums that respond to art, rather than vice versa. All of these Guggenheim museums – whether built or unbuilt – have inspired debate about the future of museums; the nature of permanent collections; and the relevance of cultural institutions in an increasingly interconnected world.

List of Participant Architects and Projects
Frank Lloyd Wright, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York 1943-1959
Hans Hollein, Guggenheim Museum Salzburg 1989
Hans Hollein, Guggenheim Museum Donaucity, Vienna 1994-1995
Arata Isozaki, Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York 1991
Frank O. Gehry, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao 1991-1997
Coop Himmelblau, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao 1991
Arata Isozaki, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao 1991
Charles Gwathmey, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York addition 1992
Richard Gluckman, Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin 1997
Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Museum Lower Manhattan New York 1998-2000
Vittorio Gregotti, Museum Guggenheim Dogana, Venice 1999
Rem Koolhaas, Guggenheim Las Vegas 2001
Rem Koolhaas, Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, Las Vegas 2001
Shigeru Ban, Guggenheim Tokyo 2001
Jean Nouvel, Guggenheim Tokyo 20001
Zaha Hadid, Guggenheim Tokyo 2001
Asymptote, Guggenheim Virtual Museum 2002
Jean Nouvel, Guggenheim Museum Rio de Janeiro 2002
Zaha Hadid, Guggenheim Museum Taichung 2003
Jean Nouvel, Guggenheim Guadalajara 2005
Asymptote, Guggenheim Guadalajara 2005
Enrique Norten, Guggenheim Guadalajara 2005
Zaha Hadid, Guggenheim Singapore, 2005-2006
Richard Gluckman, Guggenheim New York West Side 2006
Jean Nouvel, Guggenheim Tokyo Project, 2001, detail of the model



MODUS_R – Russian Formalism Today
Miami Design District December 2006

This was the first of three exhibitions about Russian Contemporary art I organised in Miami during the famous ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH fair which attracts many tens of thousands international visitors.


For the first time ever, Russian art is represented by a special, separate project at Art Basel.

This year, Samuel Keller, director of Art Basel, and Craig Robins, the famous collector of contemporary art, expressed their interest in the presence of contemporary Russian art in the show’s official program. Craig Robins ranks the Russian project in importance alongside the exhibition of design from the Centre Pompidou. The Russian project has been supported by Nic Iljine (director of corporate development in Europe and the Middle East, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation) and the Russian Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications.

Independent curators Olesya Turkina and Yevgenia Kikodze present the Modus R exhibition of works by artists from Moscow and St Petersburg. The exhibition shows art genetically linked to the world-famous school of Russian Formalism – works created over the past twenty years by contemporary Russian artists in new technologies and diverse forms, including painting, graphic art, photography, video, animation, installations and objects.

Modus R is held in the prestigious Miami Beach Design District, in a building designed in the 1970s by American architect Walter Chatham. The Newton Building is one of the top exhibition sites in Miami.

Project Concept
Yevgenia Kikodze, Olesya Turkina

Modus R can be translated as Modus Russia, Modus Reconstruction or Modus Revolution. The artists contributing to Modus R do not slavishly follow canons. They demonstrate the practice of avant-garde art, only in modern conditions. The title of the exhibition sounds like an industrial label, a work of science fiction or a DJ set.

Today, modernism is regarded as both a source of revolutionary impulses and a priceless collection of innovative aesthetic practices. The revival of avant-garde practices takes different routes. On the one hand, artists are driven by the desire to go beyond the established social contract and the diktat of the market. On the other hand, they also seek to master the devices and tactics of artistic influence on ideology and the ways and means of conquering the social space.

The contributors to the project are Victor Alimpiev, Kirill Ass, Pyotr Bely, Elena Berg, Bluesoup, Sergei Bugayev-Africa, Philipp Dontsov, Alexandra Galkina, Zhanna Kadyrova, Irina Korina, Anton Litvin, Vladimir Logutov, Oksana Mas, Andrei Molodkin, Natalia Nosova, Iced-Over Architects, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Kerim Ragimov and David Ter-Oganian.

The exhibition shows around forty works created in different media.

Saw – special project curated by Elena Kuprina and supported by Alexander Esin

The Modus R exhibition is accompanied by the presentation of a ten-meter sculpture designed by Moscow artist Andrei Filippov. This is the world premiere of this unique monumental work.

Andrei Filippov’s sculpture takes the form of a multi-meter stainless-steel saw cutting through the earth’s surface. The visual concept lies in the similarities between the teeth of the saw and the jagged outline of the Kremlin wall.

Andrei Filippov was born on Kamchatka in 1959. He graduated from the studio school at the Moscow Arts Theater. The artist is represented by works in the Tretyakov Gallery, Samara Museum of Art, Ludwig Museum and many other prestigious art collections.

Modus R is organized by the Cultural Mission Humanitarian Programs Foundation

The exhibition is sponsored by:

Information partners: INTERIOR + DESIGN
Publisher: WAM


Alfred Pacquement, Director of the Centre Pompidou wrote this:

“Mais, bien cachée dans le Design District (où la Fondation américaine du Centre Pompidou présentait un choix des collections Design du Musée national d’art moderne), une vraie exposition critique sur la jeune scène russe due à deux jeunes curatrices de Moscou m’a enfin récompensé de tous ces efforts. « Modus R » présentait des oeuvres dérangeantes et justes sous le slogan « Quand une génération d’artistes a grandi en se détachant des préceptes d’une certaine idéologie, le politique et le formel peuvent être séparés “


The Art Newspaper wrote:

“…While artists attackunbridled capitalism”

For the first time, Russian art has a palpable presence in Miami: not in the fair it- self, but in an exhibition in the Design District organised to coincide with ABMB. On the initiative of Nic Iljine, the Guggenheim Founda- tion’s representative in Eu- rope and the Middle East, developer Craig Robins has donated space for a survey show organised by the Cul- tural Mission Foundation, a Moscow-based institution es- tablished in 2005 to promote Russian art abroad. Director Semyon Mikhailovsky, a St Petersburg-based art histo- rian, has borrowed work from St Petersburg dealer Marina Gisich and Moscow galleries Aidan, Regina, Stella, and XL, the only Russian gallery in ABMB. He says ABMB offers “an ideal opportunity to present lesser known Russian artists to an international audi- ence”.

Titled “Modus R” (for “Rus- sia, reconstruction, and revo- lution”), the exhibition includes 20 Russian artists whose gritty, anti-luxury ob- jects criticise contemporary Russian society. Co-curator Eugenia Kikodze, an inde- pendent curator from Moscow, says the show strives for an “anti-glam- orous” effect. “Russian cul- ture since Perestroika has

drifted into a dangerous state, with people in love with the false glamour of un- bridled capitalism,” says Ms Kikodze. “We try to show culture in formalism, a lan- guage independent of politics and money.”

One convert to their cause is Moscow banker Alexander Esin who, at 36, has become a collector of contemporary art. When Mr Iljine asked him to support the Russian show in Miami, he agreed to fund the fabrication and in- stallation of Moscow artist Andrei Filippov’s 30-foot- tall steel saw blade (left), that rises from the ground near the show. “The descent of the Iron Curtain 60 years ago led to a temporary halt in free cultural and social exchange between Russia and the United States,” he says. “The reverse process

is currently underway and Russian art is now reinte- grating into the world artistic process. Filippov’s work represents a new gen- eration of Russian culture, and I wanted people to see it,” he says.

Jason Edward Kaufman