Exhibitions 2007-2016

Dennis Hopper at the Hermitage 21.6.-23.8.2007

Hermitage text: “The Hopper exhibition in the Winter Palace (Halls Nr 28-32, near the Saltykov Entrance) is Russia’s first showing of works by one of Hollywood’s legendary actors and it is the most complete public display of his works (80 items) in fifty years. The exhibition has been jointly organized by the State Hermitage and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (New York), together with the RI Group, with the support of the General Consulate of the USA in St Petersburg and with sponsorship assistance from Vladimir Kekhman, General Director of the M.P. Mussorgsky St Petersburg State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet. Dennis Hopper (born 1936) is a world renowned American actor and cinema director who created cult films and unforgettable images of actors. The exhibition in the Hermitage will familiarize visitors with the less well known side of his work, introducing the Russian audience to Hopper the photographer, painter and sculptor. The exhibition includes works that were chosen by the artist himself: black and white photographs from the 1960s, color photos of the city, assemblages, excerpts from films and large-format billboards, some of which are being shown for the first time. Among the well known personalities whom Hopper photographed during the 1960s were Jasper Jones, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Paul Newman and David Hockney and Irving Bloom. During these years, in Hopper’s words, photography was the only form of creativity for him.

Hopper’s billboards of recent years reflect the exaggerated role of duplicated images and the exaggerated importance of celebrities: his photographs dating back 40 years have grown to the dimensions of an advertising panel and his personal archive literally becomes a monument for general review. Aside from the transformation of the personal into the public, the billboards show by their scale the high status of Hopper as an artist. For a Hollywood actor to receive recognition in another field is always complicated. But the case of Hopper and fine arts is special. His multifaceted artistic work is rich material for analyzing the evolution of the visual arts over the last half century. The curator of the exhibition is Andrey Naslednikov, curator of photographs within the State Hermitage’s Department of Western European Fine Arts, and Stacy Hauger, Creative Director of Easy Rider Productions, USA. An illustrated scholarly catalogue of the exhibition has been prepared and carries an introductory article by Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage, and Thomas Krens , Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. It has 104 pages in total and was published under the overall editorial supervision of Nikolai Molok, editor-in-chief of the magazine Artkhronika. The author of the text is Brian Droitcour, an American critic. Nicholas Iline of the Solomon R. Guggenheim provided the idea and concept of the catalogue.” As a surprise, Hopper’S artist friend Julian Schnabel came to St.Petersburg and spoke at the opening.The after-party was celebrated in the Mikhailovsky Theatre which was undergoing renovation so that Director Vladimir Kekhman hosted us in the Parterre where the new seats were not installed yet. Easy Rider was projected on a large screen.


Motorcycle Ride St.Petersburg to Moscow

After the closing of the Denis Hopper exhibition at the Hermitage, BMW sponsored a three day bike trip to Moscow where the next exhibition was awaiting us at the Pushkin Museum. Russian bikers like Dima Gourji in his vintage Soviet bike with sidecar and others joined Dennis Hopper, Jeremy Irons, Lawrence Fishburne, the Mayor of Vilnius, Arturas Zuokas, several artists and others. The trip had three overnight stays: Novgorod, Seliger Lake & Tver. We were met by the Governors of each Region which usually hosted lavish receptions in the evenings with local celebrities , musicians and artists. During a stop at a petrol station Jeremy Irons waved to a pretty young woman riding a horse in a nearby field and she offered him a ride ! On the highway we had traffic police escorting us due to heavy traffic but we lost them entering Moscow.

The State Hermitage was the venue for the exhibition on Dennis Hopper in the Hermitage, while Moscow’s Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts has opened an exhibition entitled 300 Years of American Art.

On 23 July the motor race finished in Moscow in front of the Museum of Fine Arts. The promotional event coincided with the two hundredth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the USA.



Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation, Pushkin Museum 23.7.-9.9.2007

After New York, Beijing, Shanghai Moscow was the fourth stop of this epochal exhibition before it went to the Guggenheim Bilbao for the final venue. I arranged for US Ambassador Nicholas Burns to host a breakfast at Spaso House for our main sponsor Alexander Lebedev together with Thomas Krens & myself. This resulted in making the exhibition possible.

Tom Krens and the bikers arrived an hour later due to heavy traffic in Moscow but the front garden gates were opened for the bikers to ride in and Director Mrs. Irina Antonova even took a little ride with Jeremy Irons (Originally I had agreed with her that Tom Krens would take her for a ride but on the spot she said that she would prefer Jeremy. Culture Minister Shvydkoi, Ambassador Burns, Banker Alexander Lebedev and other dignitaries waited patiently for the bikers to settle in before the speeches at the opening ceremony began.

Since ,as usual, speeches are too long I was not surprised that Jeremy Irons actually lit a cigarette in the museum but astonished that nobody asked him to extinguish it!

By Ruzan Haruriunyan 2007-07-31 03:31 Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation, the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of American art to travel to Russia will be on view at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts through September 9, 2007.  The presentation of this landmark exhibition, which premiered earlier this year in Beijing and Shanghai, is presented under the patronage of Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State of the United States of America and Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, in commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States.

Drawn from several dozen museums and collections in Europe and America, the exhibition presents approximately 100 works by artists who hold an important place in America’s art history, and systematically outlines the developments of the last 300 years, from the colonial period of the 18th century to the present. Following the Pushkin Museum presentation, the exhibition will travel to Bilbao where it will be on view from October 10, 2007, to early 2008, as part of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao’s tenth anniversary celebrations.

This exhibition has been organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, in partnership with the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago.

“In 2005-06, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presented RUSSIA!, the most comprehensive exhibition of Russian art ever assembled,” said Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. “That exhibition—which featured the greatest masterworks of Russian art from the thirteenth century to the present, many seen for the first time outside of Russia—was a triumphant success with over a million visitors. With Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation, the Guggenheim can reciprocate with the Russian public by presenting the first exhibition to fully reflect the entire history of art in the United States. It is a great honor to bring this exhibition to Moscow on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Russia. Undoubtedly, an exhibition of this scope and reach will not be repeated in this generation.”

“An international lens informs all that we do at the Terra Foundation,” said Elizabeth Glassman, President and CEO, Terra Foundation for American Art. “In the largest sense, our goal for Art in America is to expand and enrich knowledge of American art among Russian audiences. By revealing the complexities of our nation’s history and artistic heritage, we seek to distinguish our own culture while simultaneously forging new and enduring connections with the Russians. On the 200th anniversary of Russian and American diplomat relations, we are pleased to partner with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in this historic exhibition and extend our thanks to all the lenders for sharing their treasurers with the world.”

“It is with pride that we are able to make this exhibition possible in Moscow, coinciding with the celebration of 200 years of Russian American diplomatic relations,” said Alexander Lebedev, Member of the State Duma and founder of the NRC. “Learning more about each other is most important in fostering mutual understanding and best done through the vehicle of cultural exchange.”

“Alcoa Foundation is pleased to support another important Guggenheim cultural exchange, Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation, and we look forward to sharing these rich representations of the American experience with the Russian people, particularly building on the success of the RUSSIA! exhibition with American audiences,” said Alain Belda, Chairman and CEO of Alcoa. “We congratulate the Guggenheim and Terra for assembling this impressive set of works.”

“Having made possible the legendary exhibition RUSSIA! in New York in the fall of 2005, it is a pleasure to support its ‘mirror event’ coming to Moscow two years later,” said Vladimir O. Potanin, President of INTERROS Holding Company. “Our ongoing support of the Guggenheim and the State Hermitage, as well as many regional museums across Russia, is a way to significantly contribute to the education of people in both our countries.”

“It was in 1998 that the Guggenheim first approached the Henry Luce Foundation with the exciting idea for the exhibition and catalogue Art in America,” said the foundation’s president, Michael Gilligan. “Given that one of our American art program’s objectives is to raise awareness of American art beyond the United States, we are pleased that the Guggenheim is now sharing this artistic heritage with the Russian people.”

Exhibition Overview

Divided into six historical periods, Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation demonstrates how the art of each era both reflected and contributed to a complex visual narrative of the nation during times of discovery, growth, and experimentation. The exhibition explores issues of identity, creation, innovation, and scale—characteristics integral to the American consciousness and derived in part from the variety and vastness of the cultural, political, ethnic, economic, and natural landscapes of the United States. The six sections, each marking significant phases of the country’s development, are: Colonization and Rebellion (1700–1830), Expansion and Fragmentation (1830–80), Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism (1880–1915), Modernism and Regionalism (1915–45), Prosperity and Disillusionment (1945–80), and Multiculturalism and Globalization (1980–present). Featured artists from the early 18th century to the present include, among many others: John Singleton Copley, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, George Catlin, Frederic Edwin Church, Winslow Homer, Martin Johnson Heade, John Singer Sargent, Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, Frederic Remington, Marsden Hartley, Robert Henri, George Bellows, Charles Demuth, Georgia O’Keeffe, Stuart Davis, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Brice Marden, Chuck Close, Lawrence Weiner, Richard Prince, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and John Currin.

Divided into six historical periods, Art in America: Three Hundred Years of Innovation demonstrates how the art of each era both reflected and contributed to a complex visual narrative of the nation during times of discovery, growth, and experimentation. The exhibition explores issues of identity, creation, innovation, and scale—characteristics integral to the American consciousness and derived in part from the variety and vastness of the cultural, political, ethnic, economic, and natural landscapes of the United States. The six sections, each marking significant phases of the country’s development, are: Colonization and Rebellion (1700–1830), Expansion and Fragmentation (1830– 80), Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism (1880–1915), Modernism and Regionalism (1915–45), Prosperity and Disillusionment (1945–80), and Multiculturalism and Globalization (1980–present). The historical exhibition at the Shanghai Museum featured over 120 artists from the early 18th century to the present and includes, among many others: John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, George Catlin, Frederic Edwin Church, Edward Hicks, Winslow Homer, Martin Johnson Heade, John Singer Sargent, Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, Frederic Remington, Marsden Hartley, Robert Henri, George Bellows, Charles Demuth, Georgia O’Keeffe, Stuart Davis, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Brice Marden, Chuck Close, Lawrence Weiner, Richard Prince, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Jeff Koons.

The exhibit enables an expanded display of current developments in American art with works and installations by Matthew Barney, Paul Chan, Adam Cvijanovic, Tom Friedman, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, David Hammons, Jonathan Horowitz, Glenn Ligon, Cady Noland, Erick Swenson, Nam June Paik, Paul Pfeiffer, Jack Pierson, Tom Sachs, Kara Walker, Kelley Walker, and Roger Welch. Art in America: Now also presents a diverse selection of contemporary photography, including works by Kristin Baker, Miles Coolidge, Sharon Core, Tim Davis, Luis Gispert, Katy Grannan, Justine Kurland, Nikki S. Lee, Anthony Lepore, Laura McPhee, Dana Schutz, Kehinde Wiley, and Charlie White, among others. San Francisco–based street artist Barry McGee will create a site-specific work exclusively for Shanghai MoCA, conveying the vibrancy and boundary-crossing of contemporary American art.

The curatorial team of the exhibition has been led by Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Susan Davidson, Senior Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Elizabeth Kennedy, Curator of the Collection, Terra Foundation for American Art; and Nancy Mowll Mathews, Eugenie Prendergast Senior Curator of 19th-and 20th-Century Art, Williams College Museum of Art have selected and installed the exhibition.

The exhibition benefited from the expertise of the following scholars of American art and modernism: Michael Leja, Professor of Art History, University of Pennsylvania; the late Robert Rosenblum, Professor of Fine Arts, New York University, and Stephen and Nan Swid Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and John Wilmerding, Christopher B. Sarofim Professor of American Art, Princeton University, and a trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

The exhibit enables an expanded display of current developments in American art with works and installations by Matthew Barney, Paul Chan, Adam Cvijanovic, Tom Friedman, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, David Hammons, Jonathan Horowitz, Glenn Ligon, Cady Noland, Erick Swenson, Nam June Paik, Paul Pfeiffer, Jack Pierson, Tom Sachs, Kara Walker, Kelley Walker, and Roger Welch. Art in America: Now also presents a diverse selection of contemporary photography, including works by Kristin Baker, Miles Coolidge, Sharon Core, Tim Davis, Luis Gispert, Katy Grannan, Justine Kurland, Nikki S. Lee, Anthony Lepore, Laura McPhee, Dana Schutz, Kehinde Wiley, and Charlie White, among others. San Francisco–based street artist Barry McGee will create a site-specific work exclusively for Shanghai MoCA, conveying the vibrancy and boundary-crossing of contemporary American art. Included among the many highlights of the exhibition are: Charles Willson Peale’s George Washington (ca. 1780–82, Walton Family Foundation), Henry Inman’s Yoholo-Micco (1832–33, High Museum of Art, Atlanta), George Caleb Bingham’s Daniel Boone Escorting Settlers through the Cumberland Gap (1851–52, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, St. Louis), Asher B. Durand’s A Symbol (1856, Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga), Edward P. Moran’s The Unveiling of the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World (1886, Museum of the City of New York), Marsden Hartley’s Painting No. 50 (1914–15, Terra Foundation for American Art), Edward Hopper’s Corn Hill (Truro, Cape Cod) (1930, Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, San Antonio), Jackson Pollock’s The Moon-Woman (1942, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice), Willem de Kooning’s Composition (1955, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), Andy Warhol’s Orange Disaster (1963, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), Ed Ruscha’s The Back of Hollywood (1977, Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon), and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Man from Naples (1982, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao). — www.guggenheim.org




RUSSIA MIAMI 2007 December 3-10, 2007

Press Release:

“RUSSIA MIAMI 2007, an exhibition of contemporary Russian art and culture, will be on view in the Collins Building, 39 NE 39th Street, in the Miami Design District, from December 3-10, 2007. The exhibition is curated by Julie Sylvester, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, organized by RIGroup, in cooperation with HUGO BOSS, and supported by DACRA Development. The exhibition will be open daily from 12 noon-9 pm.

“RUSSIA Miami 2007 is inspired by the artists and the galleries who formed the foundation for contemporary art in Russia, “said Julie Sylvester. “The exhibition will include works by the major players on the contemporary scene in Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as works by younger artists and artists whose works may have remained relatively unknown in the new rush to the art market. The art selected for the exhibition is a purely Russian art, art made in the post Soviet era, influenced by a rapidly changing society, and in some cases, not represented by galleries.”

“The RIGroup is committed to the ongoing support of a cultural exchange between Russia and the United States to help foster tolerance and understanding,” said RIGroup CEO Janna Bullock. “Russia Miami 2007 is our second venture in Miami. Next summer we will present an exhibition of the finalists of the “Kandinsky Prize” for contemporary Russian Art in New York. In addition, we are planning exhibitions of contemporary American artists in Moscow.”

Aidan Salakhova co-founded the First Gallery in Moscow in 1989, the very first gallery committed to contemporary art in Russia. She is also an artist and will present a new installation work. Gennady Ustyugov was born in 1938 and although his earlier work is represented in Russian museums, he lives in relative obscurity in St. Petersburg. His collages which are autobiographical in nature and are made from spare household materials on old cardboard, may bring to mind works by Paul Mc Carthy, although he has surely never seen a western art magazine. Sergey Bugaev Africa is well known to the international art world, but a major installation of his work of recycled objects of the Soviet era has not been viewed outside of Europe. We will bring a large new work that incorporates early 20th century hand painted sleighs. Oleg Golosiy (1965-1993) was a prolific painter who died before the age of 30, and his work is certainly unknown outside of Russia. As well, there are early works by Timur Novikov (1958-2002) including one early landscape painting, which may be a surprise to those familiar with his fabric works. Petr Denisenko began making art in mental hospitals where he was frequently treated in Soviet times for “commercial syndrome”. His contribution is a robust, manic collection of drawings which have been made over the past few years in No Drawing No Cry, Martin Kippenberger’s book of empty hotel stationery. The artists, therefore, are a varied lot and hail from different parts of vast Russia. Images of contemporary Russian life form an odyssey through the exhibition in a new series of photographs, made by Sergey Bratkov. Other artists in the exhibition are Nikolay Bakharev, Dmitry Bulnygin, Vladimir Dubosarsky & Alexander Vinogradov, Georgy Gurianov, Dmitry Gutov, Sergey Shekhovtsov (Porolon), Natasha Struchova, and Vasiliy Tsagalov.

Moscow based designer Denis Simachev has been invited to participate and will create new designs and products for RUSSIA Miami 2007. The 176 page catalogue, edited by Julie Sylvester, available at the exhibition, will richly represent the artists’ works and will include portraits and biographies. A short story, The Life and Adventures of Shed Number XII, by the acclaimed author Victor Pelevin is the text for the catalogue.

Many of the artists will be in Miami for the exhibition. We expect to have the exhibition become a meeting place, a Treffpunkt, point de recontre, for our visitors. We will make full use of the plaza area in front of the Collins Building, where we will always have water for our friends, contemporary Russian magazines, catalogues, and good conversation.”

The Russian party at the poolside Oasis of the Raleigh Hotel was sponsored by HUGO BOSS and RIGroup and turned out to be a phenomenal success with over 1000 guests.



“RUSSIAN DEAMS”, Miami Beach , Bass Museum of Art 4.12..2008- 8.2. 2009

A more ambitious showcase of Russian contemporary art at the Bass Museum opened on the evening of the Art Basel preview day and attracted crowds during the next weeks. I had introduced the curator, Olga Sviblova to the museum Director Silvia Karman Cubiñá During Art Basel Miami Beach in December 2007 and helped with the organisation. Master Card & TSUM supported the exhibition. The rooftop pool party was a hit with DJ Dima Simachev and the TSUM bosses even ordered a snow producing mashine blowing snowflakes in the air while fairy like damsels were gesticulating on rafts on the water.

Yulia Tikhonova wrote in Mutual Art:

“The sun may be setting on the art market, but it’s still shining in Miami, where the whole art world concentrates its attention for the first week of December, with a stampede of fairs, parties and roving art craziness. At the Bass Museum, 23 Russian artists presented photography, video and installations grouped under the title: Russian Dreams. Mostly all of these artists came of age after the break-up of the Soviet Union when Russia adjusted to new personal freedoms.

The artists of AES+F Group – Alexander Ponomarev, Vladimir Dubossarsky, Alexander Vinogradov, Dmitri Gutov and Alexei Kostroma – came to prominence in the 1980-90s, in the era of the Russian underground art and Perestroika. This was a time when official art was subverted by a new style of Sots Art – a satiric blend of Socialist Realism and Pop Art that parodied official state-produced art. The artists of this generation look back with nostalgia and often bring Soviet memorabilia into their works.

This exhibition also showcases the new generation of younger artists, who work in a different manner. Julia Milner, Rostan Tavasiev, Haim Sokol, and MishMash Project (currently aged between 20 and 30 years old) developed their work in a new, post-Perestroika Russia when Western imagery burst into the Russian’s daily lives. The personal reflections of these artists collide with the trends of glamour and consumerism.

For instance, a collage of video and digital photography titled Defile by the AES+F group blends images of death and high fashion as unclaimed corpses that are cloaked in haute couture dresses and float over an invisible catwalk. The series was inspired by the ideas of Russian religious thinker and futurist philosopher Nikolai Feodorov, one of the founders of Russian cosmism, whose basic concept is the dream of physical resurrection. This exhibit by the AES+F group refers us to Feodorov’s ideas, reminding us of death as the fundamental existential problem of human existence, and to the concept of overcoming death in a moral and physical sense. At the same time, the artists position the work within the realm of the glamour industry and consumerism: with the aid of computer technology the bodies of the dead are arrayed in clothing intended for a fashion show.

The title of the exhibition Russian Dreams was inspired by an image in Leonid Tishkov’s ravishing the photographic series Private Moon where a slice of a fake green moon is pulled down to perch on a roof terrace giving over to a vast twinkling city. The image cast the artist as lost hero of a modern fairytale, journeying through different worlds and into dreams to protect his imagination. The image evokes the motifs of the revolutionary opera “Victory over the Sun”, designed by Malevich, where the sun is captured and brought down to earth, plunging the world into darkness to prepare for a new cosmic order.

The title of the exhibition is not accidental. Dreaming is a traditional feature of the Russian character, wherein a dream has a magical ability to make occurrences happen and to materialise one’s wishes. The vast majority of Russian folktales are based on the story of Ivan the Fool, who becomes Tsar at the end of the fable without having to lift a finger. There was a remarkable burst of activity in Russian art in the early 20th century. And it could be said that Russian Futurism and Modernism, the work of Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko, Pavel Filonov, Vladimir Tatlin and others were derived from the dreams (or delusions) inspired by the ideas of Socialism. But this great social Utopia of Revolution was soon transformed into totalitarian ideology. The Russian avant-garde was outlawed for many decades in its country of origin. A second upsurge in 20th century Russian art occurred in the 1970s to 1980s. This was the period of underground art associated with such names as Ilya Kabakov, Erik Bulatov, Leonid Sokov, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid. These artists influenced and shaped the art works of the pre-Perestroyka artists presented in the show, passing to this younger generation the links to the Russian avantgarde and to the Soviet myths that strive for reconstruction and self-reproduction.

For instance in XXX MALEVICH and SEXLISSITSKY, Alexei Buldakov takes fragments of the darting supremacist shapes, lines, wedges, and makes of them vivid cartoon images that mutate into limbs and body parts to perform in a primal cartoon to the soundtrack of grunting, panting lovers: a parody of the high-minded radicalism of Malevich and El Lissitsky, as well as of today’s pornography and art-market pieties. The curator of this exhibition and the director of Moscow’s Multimedia Art Museum, Olga Svibolova says that: “To truly understand this incredible moment in contemporary art, we need to look back to the generation of artists who had been categorised simply as ‘underground’ artists. Russian Dreams… allows us to re-examine the works of these influential artists and, in doing so, appreciate their impact upon artists working today.”

Russian Dreams opened in December at the Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach. The exhibition argue persuasively for a continuing distinctive sensibility in Russian art, as the grand themes of 19th- and 20thcentury painting and literature are reprised in contemporary media. The Russian art of today can be as ironic and poetic, aggressive and lyrical, as the Russian soul, and we know that is an enigma…”




Pacifica Art Prize Exhibition in Vladivostok 18.6.-10.7. 2013

Rooted in the long tradition of nongovernmental cultural exchange between peoples of Russia and the US, The 2012 Esalen Pacifica Prize was conceived to create new and enduring connections between the artistic and larger communities of Vladivostok, Russia’s largest Pacific Ocean port, and the California coastal communities of San Francisco and Big Sur.

In cooperation with the California College of the Arts, based in San Francisco, and The Far Eastern Academy of the Arts in Vladivostok, a group of four young, talented artists (two graduates from each institution) were selected in early 2012 as the first recipients of The Esalen Pacifica Prize.  The four artists, specialists in painting and drawing, then spent four weeks in May working and living together at Esalen’s breathtakingly beautiful campus overlooking the Pacific.

From May 18-20, 2012, during the residency of the artists, Esalen hosted a public arts weekend workshop focused on the power of art to connect and inspire new thinking about areas of common interest, with subjects ranging from Russia’s evolving role in Asia’s economy to the impact of climate change on the Pacific Ocean.  Session leaders included representatives from The Asia Society, Scripps Oceanic Institute, and the Dean of the California College of the Arts. The weekend’s highlight was the first exhibition of the collaborative paintings created by the artists during their residency held at Esalen’s arts center, The Art Barn.

The Pacifica Prize also included two exhibitions of the works: in San Francisco in a gallery in February 2013 and in Vladivostok, where the American winners travelled for the show which opened in ARKA Gallery on June 17th. 2013




Figures in Motion State Hermitage Museum , 21.12.2013-16.2.2014

From ARTinvestmentRU:

“St. Petersburg, General Staff Building  in General Headquarters opened ” Edgar Degas . The figure in the movement, ” prepared by the State Hermitage Museum and the Foundation named after M. T. Abraham , Paris , France. Degas , who became famous for his paintings , drawings and pastels depicting dancers and nudes , showed the audience during his lifetime only one sculpture. And this sculpture that struck contemporaries and adopted them ambiguous , largely determined the further development of art .  The exhibition presents more than 30 works . 42 more exhibit on display at the Hermitage Storage Facility , in the old village .

Hilaire -Germain- Edgar de Haas ( 1834-1917 ) , who later became known under the name of Edgar Degas , first began to sculpt sculpture of wax around 1860 . Many of them were created by an artist at the same time with its famous paintings and drawings . “Little fourteen- dancer ” – the most important of his wax sculptures – was presented in Paris at the sixth Impressionist exhibition in 1881, which caused a sensation . While some critics praised the work of a very positive , most responded with hostility and negative, resulting in this work remained the only sculpture Degas exhibited in his lifetime .

Degas ‘s interest in sculpture began to develop from mid 1850 – ies and is associated with an extremely important topic for his art movement. Degas loved horse racing , thinking about the motion of the horses , he realized that for the study of postures moving horse best suited dimensional graphic means – only sculpture can pass them with precision. Having considered the various options sculptural materials , Degas decided that the best fit for its purpose wax, sometimes mixed with soft clay model . This material provided him with the necessary freedom of action and subsequently allowed to refine and customize their studies .

Early Degas sculpture horses were fairly static. This is beginning to change with the 1860 mid -x ‘s, when Degas obviously saw the pictures E.-ZH. Mare who committed gaits horses. The next step came in the late 1870s , when the British photographer E. Meybridzh revolutionized the photography for his series “The movement of animals .” It was the first milestone in the history of the still pictures demonstrate the exact position of the animal’s body , in particular horses, at every moment of movement. This discovery explains why Degas created sculptures of horses, transmitting complex movements such as lifting, bending and turning of the head , pulling the hind legs and run forward , in various embodiments , even when four feet off the ground .  At the same time continued to work on Degas dancers , bather and sitting figures. Most innovative work from his series of bathers – ” Bath “. Perhaps this is the first in the history of fine art sculpture, designed for viewing from above .

« Little fourteen- dancer ” became even more radical departure from tradition. At the head of the statue was wearing a wig of real hair , tied with a satin ribbon on them . Wax figure was dressed in a dress from these fabrics: linen bodice, gas pack and satin ballet shoes on his feet. Years later, follow the example of Degas , Marcel Duchamp and many others .  Soon after his death the heirs found in his studio 150 wax sculptures , eighty of them were in good condition. It was decided to cast seventy four of them in bronze, and these models firm ” Hébrard » («Hebrard») produced a certain number of castings. This proved to be a wise decision : if they were not cast in bronze , the most important sculptural heritage of the artist would have remained forever unknown. The main subjects of these works – so they were widely praised dancer in motion, the horse in motion and at rest, bathers and seated figures .  It casts such unauthorized artist Degas sculpture is represented in many museums around the world . Wax models , which were made from castings , and more have been sold as far as we know, have not been used for the manufacture of bronze options . Some time ago, in the foundry ” Valzuani » («Valsuani»), largely inherited materials workshop ” Hébrard ” plaster models were found , possibly made ​​from the original wax , before the last transfer to new owners. On the basis of these models was cast new series of bronze sculptures , which, like the previous ones, is not authorized . These new castings caused much controversy – from accusations of forgery to protest against the excessive replication .

State Hermitage Museum held a special symposium in 2012 , dedicated to the ” posthumous ” bronzes , during which discussed the problem of replication authentication and later castings , which exists widely and , although most of the concerns of contemporary sculpture , and affects a significant part of the sculptural works of previous centuries . The results of this symposium and led today to organize an exhibition of the Hermitage , where the problem would be represented in a dynamic way to show an interested audience all its aspects . Losing work without a confirmed name its aesthetic value or not? The answer to this question can prompt the Hermitage exhibition , where samples of castings and workshop ” Valzuani ” and workshop ” Hébrard ” from the collection of the M. T. Abraham .

According to M. Piotrovsky , Director General of the State Hermitage Museum : ” The main purpose of the exhibition – to recall the wonderful sculptures by Degas, and today the full aesthetic riddles. They anticipated many modern and future art. However, the exhibition is designed to sharpen and raises some general questions that create the atmosphere in which there is contemporary art ».  exhibition curators – SO Androsov , head of the Department of Western European Art of the State Hermitage , Doctor of Arts , MO Dedinkin , deputy director of the Department of Western European Art , IG Etoeva , Researcher, Department of Western European art of the State Hermitage Museum, and Dalit Lahav – Durst , chief curator of the Foundation named after M. T. Abraham .  The exhibition illustrated catalog (published by ” Petronius ‘, 2013 ), which includes introductory Mikhail Piotrovsky and Amir Kabiri Gross , President of the Foundation named after M. T. Abraham . Authors – Geraldine Norman, John Whiteley , June Hargrove , Dalit Lahav – Durst .”




“Dada & Surrealism” at the Hermitage Museum 19.11.2014-18.1.2015

This was the first exhibition sponsored by the Hermitage Museum Foundation Israel which I helped create two years earlier.

The Hermitage Press Release:

“At the exhibition paintings, sculptures, collages and photographs made by artists of the XX century that are not represented in the collection of the Hermitage, are displayed. The works of Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, René Magritte and Joan Miró are of particular interest. The influence of Dada and Surrealism on the art world lasted for quite a long time, thus the exhibition includes more recent works as well, for example, the works of Joseph Cornell, Brassaï and Alexander Calder.

The exhibition  provides insight into Dada and Surrealism as the universal intellectual and ideological movements that broke boundaries and redefined existence and ways of attitude. Representatives of these movements challenged tradition, introducing innovative materials and approaches that would change the very language  of art. Unexpected juxtapositions of images, development of automatism, metamorphosis and fantastic landscapes are the key components of the movements demonstrated at the exhibition.

Dadaism began in Zurich in 1916 fostered by the tragedy of  World War I, shortly thereafter spreading to Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York and Paris. From the point of view of the Dadaists, the war finally confirmed the failure of rationalism and bourgeois culture of the late XIX century. The movement was started by the anti-war speeches in “Cabaret Voltaire” in Zurich. In the Dada manifesto of 1918 written by Tristan Tzara, the Romanian poet, it is stated that the word “Dada” being childish yet making one think (dada in French means “hobbyhorse”), randomly taken from the French-German dictionary, in reality does not mean anything. Intending to break the generally accepted principles and to destroy the traditional vocabulary of art, the Dadaists turned to radical ideas and methods of artistic expression. Collage, assemblage, montage, ready-mades, films and performances of Dadaists were regarded as nihilistic anti-art.

Surrealism, originating in Paris from the Dada “fermentation” after 1919, was the incarnation of the revolution of spirit and the search for a new reality. Guided by observations of Sigmund Freud regarding the Unconscious, in the manifesto of 1924 surrealism gave voice to irrational and creative forces hidden in the human nature.

Chance automatism, biomorphic forms, dreams and manipulations with everyday objects are the hallmark of such different artists as André Breton, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí and many others.

Although decades have passed since the introduction of these fundamental movements, creativity, criticism and irony inherent in Dada and Surrealism are still able to take on new forms, to shock and provoke the audience. When creating the Dadaist and Surrealist collages and objects, the use of findings of various kinds and ready-mades destroyed the boundaries between art and life. Familiar things presented in unexpected juxtapositions intrigue and disorient the audience. This allows  liberation of e the poetic potential of objects,  resulting in an object of dreams “extracted from the unknown depths of the subconscious”.

Dadism used the rapid development of radio, cinematography, industrial production and illustrated print. Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Höch, Max Ernst, Marcel Janco, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp can be called members of the international Dada group, and some of them later became surrealists. Their methods included acquisition, editing and layout of ready-made objects, texts and printed images. Chance  and irony became their main weapon.

The ready-mades challenged the works of art created by artists in the classical style, as well as the concept of self-expression. Aesthetization of ordinary things (combs, dryers for bottles, hangers) exhibited as unchanged, questioned the transformation of an object when exposed in museums and galleries. Henceforward, the idea behind the exhibit became an act of creation that anticipated the conceptual art of the late XX century. Dadaists deliberately minimized the value of the original work of art, as well as the value of labor and skill of the artists. Radical creations of Duchamp appeared before the war regardless of Dada. André Breton called his ready-mades predecessors of the surrealist object. They became visual analogues of powerful poetic metaphors found in the key texts of surrealism.

Later, collages and objects inspired artists (such as Joseph Cornell) and turned into the main form of modern art becoming a source for the development of installations, design of a specific location and advertising.

Biomorphism in art is a tendency to depict strange organic shapes causing vague associations with natural objects. Anatomy, fauna, bodies of water and astronomy inspired artists to create paintings, reliefs and sculptures. Jean (Hans) Arp, Yves Tanguy and Raoul Ubac, each working in a distinctive style on the border between figurative and abstract art, developed their own language of “biomorphs”.

Surrealists glorified magic and the transformation process of metamorphosis and hybridization. Metamorphosis in the works of Picasso influenced the surrealists of the 1920’s. It became both a subject matter and a procedure in the figurative paintings of Leonora Carrington and in the more abstract automatic works of André Masson. Metamorphosis confirmed the ability of the human imagination to go beyond reality, rationality and towards the incomprehensible. Culture and mythology of American Indians and the inhabitants of Oceania have served for the Surrealists as models of uncensored expression and sources of images of human-plant metamorphosis. Max Ernst, showing interest in exotic cultures, alchemy and supernatural phenomena, believed that the artist must return to the spiritual harmony with nature inherent in the mythological consciousness , which has been lost with the spread of Christianity, Western rationalism and technology development.

Curators of the exhibition “Dada and Surrealism from the Collection of the Israel Museum”:  Dr. Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, David Rockefeller Curator, Stella Fischbach Department of Modern Art (XX century), Israel Museum, Jerusalem, M.O. Dedinkin, Deputy Head of the Department of Western European Art of the State Hermitage.

A fully illustrated catalog was published for the exhibition (State Hermitage Publishing House, 2014), including opening remarks by M.B. Piotrovsky, CEO  of the State Hermitage Museum, James S. Snyder, Director of the Israel Museum, and Amir H. Kaibiri, President of the Hermitage Foundation in Israel. Authors of the Articles: Dr. Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, Dr. Werner Spies, Dr. Dawn Ades, Israel Museum.”



Nikolai Suetin: Designing the Future, Galerie Gmurzynska, Zug, 4.3.-10.4.2015

Since I introduced Nina Nikolaevna Suetin to Krystyna Gmurzynsa at the beginning of the 1990ies the gallery has produced several exhibitions of works by Nina’s father Nikolai Suetin, her father in law, Ilya Chashnik and last not least Kasimir Malevich from the collection of Anna Leporskaya who was Nina’s adoptive mother & Nikolai Suetin’s wife besides being a close student of Malevich and the heiress of his estate after his death in 1935. Since the Gmurzynska Gallery also produces Museum quality catalogues with a wealth of information it was a natural choice for Nina to cooperate with them with my help.

Press release:

“Galerie Gmurzynska is pleased to present a series of drawings and unique furniture pieces by Russian avant-garde artist and designer Nikolai Suetin, a student and close associate of Kazimir Malevich, the founder of Suprematism.

The exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view the forward-thinking aesthetic Suetin developed, exemplifying the leading Russian avant-garde movements of his day, notably Suprematism and later Constructivism.

In 1927 Suetin participated together with fellow artists Ilya Chashnik and Boris Ender in a design competition in Leningrad for which he titled his 23 designs for chairs, beds, cupboards, sideboards, tables and desks “Dynamic Suprematism”.

In their entirety, these sleek modernist visualizations simultaneously represent Suetin’s skill and talent as a designer to translate his sculptural concerns into a progressive utilitarian art that fully retained its stylistic economy and elegance in the service of a new society envisioned in 1920s post-revolutionary Russia.

Over the next decade, Suetin would emerge as one of the most influential product designers of Soviet Russia, conceiving the interiors for the Soviet pavilions at the World Fair in Paris and New York in the late 1930s and heading the State porcelain manufacture in Leningrad.

Galerie Gmurzynska has rediscovered and recontextualized important positions of the Russian avant-garde since its founding in 1965, fully dedicated to the continuous research of this groundbreaking period in early twentieth century modern art and culture and in the high-end presentation of visionaries such as Suetin. The gallery is therefore especially delighted to present select furniture pieces that were produced by the artist’s daughters, realizing their father’s designs in great detail for a contemporary audience.

Suetin’s designs have been internationally exhibited, from the Guggenheim Museum New York to the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Exemplars of his work today are held at the Ludwig Collection, Cologne. His work can currently be seen in the critically acclaimed showcase “Adventures of the Black Square” on view at London’s Whitechapel Gallery through April 6, 2015.

On the occasion of this exhibition Galerie Gmurzynska is publishing a fully illustrated catalog featuring an essay by distinguished art historian John E. Bowlt, Director of the Institute of Modern Russian Culture, University of Southern California Los Angeles and author of several studies including Russian Art of the Avant-Garde: Theory and Criticism (1988) and the editor of the catalogue of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s critically acclaimed exhibition Russian Avant-Garde Theatre. War, Revolution and Design 1913-1933, 2014.”


In Search of 0,10 – The last Futurist Exhibition of Painting
Fondation Beyeler ,October 4, 2015 – January 10, 2016

I have made many trips to Russia with my curator friend Matthew Drutt

Basic Info from the museum:

“With “In Search of 0,10 – The last Futurist Exhibition of Painting”, the Fondation Beyeler is celebrating one of the most remarkable moments in the development of modern and contemporary art. The “0,10” exhibition was held in 1915 in Petrograd (the new name given to the German-sounding Russian capital of Saint Petersburg shortly after the outbreak of the First World War) and proved to be one of the 20century’s key shows. Since Saint Petersburg became the cradle of the Russian avant- garde, “0,10” continues the Fondation Beyeler’s series of exhibitions about cities that were crucial to the development of modern art, its earlier shows having been “Venice”, “Vienna 1900” and “Surrealism in Paris”.

“0,10” marks a turning-point in the history of modern art, describing the historic moment when Kazimir Malevich created his first non-objective paintings and Vladimir Tatlin presented his revolutionary counter-reliefs to the public. Most of the other artists who participated in the original exhibition will also be represented in the reconstructed version at the Fondation Beyeler: Natan Altman, Vassily Kamenski, Ivan Kljun, Michail Menkov, Vera Pestel, Ljubov Popova, Ivan Puni, Olga Rosanova, Nadeschda Udalzova and Marie Vassilieff.

At the same time, “In Search of 0,10 – The last Futurist Exhibition of Painting” honors Kazimir Malevich’s iconic work Black Square and commemorates its centenary. The monochrome painting was pure provocation, showing nothing but a slightly distorted square of black paint rimmed with white. In addition, it was hung inside the exhibition in the so-called “God’s Corner”, where icons normally adorned the apartment. Uncompromising and enigmatic, the works of Suprematism caused an instantaneous paradigm shift in the world of art.

The works are very rarely loaned: this is the first time that such a rich selection of Suprematist works is being exhibited in Switzerland. Years of research and a long-standing art historical exchange with renowned Russian museums have paved the way for this cooperation during the centenary year of Black Square. Since 2008, high-level cooperative projects have included the first one-man shows of Alberto Giacometti and Paul Klee (2013) in Russia, the latter in collaboration with the Zentrum Paul Klee.

The exhibited works and documents were assembled from museums, archives and private collections. In addition to the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, fourteen regional museums in Russia as well as leading international institutions like the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, the George Costakis Collection in Thessaloniki, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the MoMA in New York are contributing to the exhibition by means of rare and valuable loans

For the first time in Russian and Western exhibition practice, the valuable loans are being brought together in the exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, where, together with other works by the same artists from the same era, they recreate the unique, energy-charged atmosphere of the artistic upturn in early 20-century Russia.

The guest curator is Matthew Drutt, who has already curated the major Malevich retrospectives at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and the Menil Collection, Houston.

In parallel, the Fondation Beyeler is also showing the exhibition “Black Sun”, which presents works by a total of thirtty-six 20th century artists working in different disciplines such as painting, sculpture, installation and film as well as art for public spaces. Conceived as a tribute to Malevich and Tatlin, “Black Sun” looks from today’s perspective at the enormous influence those two members of the Russian avant-garde have exerted on art right up until the present day. The exhibition has been designed in close cooperation with some of the artists whose work is being exhibited.

The original “0,10” exhibition, which was organized by Ivan Puni and his wife Xenia Boguslavskaja, opened on 19 December 1915 in Petrograd with more than 150 works by fourteen artists of the Russian avant-garde, most of whom were supporters of either Malevich or Tatlin. Only around one-third of the 150 or so works exhibited in Petrograd in the winter of 1915-16 have survived until today. The exhibition was held in the gallery of Nadeschda Dobytschina, who is considered to have been Russia’s first gallerist. From 1911 onwards she used a few rooms of her large apartment as an exhibition space and was well known on the art scene.

The title “0,10” (zero-ten) is not a mathematical formula but a code deriving from an idea developed by Malevich: the nought was intended to symbolize both the destruction of the old world – including the world of art – and a new beginning. The figure 10 relates to the originally envisaged number of participating artists. The words “last Futurist” are also a kind of code: they refer to the exhibitors’ desire to distance and even to liberate themselves from the influence of the Italian art movement of Futurism. The breakneck speed with which art movements succeeded one another at that time becomes apparent: Futurism was all the rage in early 1915 but was rejected by the end of the year. The preparations for the exhibition were accompanied by passionate statements and stormy disputes between the participants. Due to last-minute changes, the final number of participants diverged from the title, some artists having withdrawn at short notice and others having been added unexpectedly. In all, fourteen artists exhibited their work, seven of them women and seven of them men, the organizers having insisted on gender equality.

Two of the exhibitors stood towered above the others because their works heralded absolutely new, radical paths for art’s future development. The first was Kazimir Malevich, whose totally abstract paintings consisting of geometric figures opened up a previously unknown dimension of art at the “Last Futurist Exhibition of Painting 0,10”. Malevich coined the name “Suprematism” for his works (from Latin supremus=the highest), thereby revealing his claim to play the leading role in art. The second was Vladimir Tatlin, whose equally abstract sculptures created from materials not previously used in art offered new solutions as regards the liberation of sculpture from its traditional plinth. Although the original exhibition was by no means uniform – it encompassed a large range of artistic styles and aesthetic programs – it was still a clarion call that marked the end of Cubo-Futurism as the predominant trend in Russian painting and opened up completely new avenues for experimentation. After that show, Malevich and Tatlin immediately became leaders of the European avant-garde.

The project at the Fondation Beyeler does not, of course, aspire to be a completely faithful reconstruction of the 1915 exhibition – many of the works displayed there have since disappeared or been destroyed – but it will nonetheless present a large number of originals from that show, complemented by other contemporary masterpieces by the same artists, thereby giving visitors a very vivid impression of the artistic energy that existed in such abundance in early 20century Russia.

The influence that “0,10” still exerts on art today will be illustrated by a second exhibition: “Black Sun” will chart the path of abstraction and the enigmatic non-color black through works by contemporary artists. in such abundance in early 20century Russia. The influence that “0,10” still exerts on art today will be illustrated by a second exhibition: “Black Sun” will chart the path of abstraction and the enigmatic non-color black through works by contemporary artists. “

Media Release:

“When the mind’s habit of seeing depictions of corners of nature, Madonnas, and shameless Venuses in paintings vanishes, only then will we see purely painterly works.” (Kazimir Malevich)

“The Last Futurist Exhibition of Painting 0,10 (Zero-Ten)” opened one hundred years ago, on December 19, 1915, at Nadezhda E. Dobychina’s Khudozhestvennoe Buro (Art Bureau), located one floor up from the street in a typical yellow Petrograd building beside the Moika River and across from the Field of Mars where troops used to practice their march formations not far from the Russian royal family’s ornate Winter Palace. The exhibition has been celebrated as a watershed moment not only in the art of the Russian avant-garde but also in the history of Western art since the turn of the twentieth century as a whole.

„0,10“ has largely been understood as the showdown between Kazimir Malevich, who introduced his nonobjective paintings there under the banner of Suprematism, and Vladimir Tatlin, whose painterly wall reliefs of the previous year and a half, made from mundane materials, evolved into works of a neo- Constructivist, tensile nature, anointed by him “counter-reliefs” because they defied the traditional idea of an object as constrained within a frame or adhering to a flat surface.

And while „0,10“ certainly was a confrontation between these two titans of modernism, the exhibition was so much more than that. Of the fourteen artists who participated, half were women, and four of those were among the most accomplished painters in Russian modernism, if not modern art altogether: Vera Pestel, Lyubov Popova, Olga Rozanova, and Nadezhda Udaltsova. What other exhibition or movement in the history of prewar art can boast such a strong presence of female artists who rivaled their male counterparts? The show, too, was more the beginning of something than the end of something. Cubo-Futurist painting continued beyond the end of the show, in January 1916, and the exhibition was hardly devoted solely to the idea of painting, as its title implied, as there were many experiments in relief and sculpture, quite a few of which were substantially different from Tatlin’s explorations of ephemeral object making.

Muscovites versus Petrograders (a traditional rivalry that continues even today), artists who rallied around Tatlin (Pestel, Popova, and Udaltsova) versus those who were friends with or even already followers of Malevich, and those who were unaligned but invited to participate because they were considered noteworthy and exemplary (Altman, Vasilyeva, Kamensky, and Kirillova). These were relationships entangled by both personal and professional matters, love affairs, and ideological conflicts. „0,10“ is also the story of Ivan Puni and his wife, Xenia Boguslavskaya, the artist couple who had emigrated to Paris in 1914, escaping a period of heated disputes among the factions of Russian artists, only to be forced to return to Petrograd at the onset of World War I. Relatively wealthy and, as a result of their time away, somewhat idealistic, they embarked on a yearlong effort to unify the fractious Russian contemporary art scene, culminating in „0,10“.

The absence of titles for many of the works, subsequent changes in title made either by the artists or by the institutions and individuals who have owned or currently own the works, the absence of illustrations in the catalogue, and, finally, the unknown whereabouts today of many of the original objects have conspired to make a comprehensive and definitive reconstruction of „0,10“ impossible.

Added to these challenges is the even greater obstacle that exists in working with Russian modernism. Everything from World War I, the October Revolution of 1917, the State-sponsored distribution of artworks in the 1920s from Moscow and (by then) Leningrad to institutions in the so-called provinces to raise the awareness of a “less cultured” populace, to, finally, the State’s banishment of modernist works from the walls of museums, which began in the 1930s, when such art was considered decadent and without artistic merit, has turned tracking down specific objects into a journey whose trail often goes cold as documents, or the works themselves, have gone missing or remain hidden away. Just after the October Revolution and continuing into the 1980s, often with the State’s consent, institutions deaccessioned works to raise badly needed funds in a sagging economy.

The 1915 season of art exhibitions in Petrograd opened in March with “The First Futurist Exhibition of Painting Tramway V”, which included ten of the artists who would exhibit at „0,10“, plus Alexandra Exter and Alexei Morgunov. On 3 March 1915, minutes before the arrival of Grand Duke Nicholas, an uncle of the tsar, who had come to see an extremely select exhibition in an adjoining hall, a large banner was unfurled bearing the mysterious legend “Tramway V”. “Tramway V”? In all Petrograd there was no tramway to be found with that name. This was obviously another of those incomprehensible Futurist provocations. More than 2000 spectators poured in and the scandal was complete.

This kind of artistic anarchy was a public outrage, and it set the stage for the even bigger scandal that „0,10“ would cause at the end of the year. The actual layout of the original exhibition is largely speculative. What we do know is that, of the ten rooms in the building occupied by the Dobychin family, which included living quarters, „0,10“’s (give or take) 154 works were stuffed into five or six of them—some scholars have surmised even as few as three, but that seems unachievable. As a result, many of the participants must have installed their works Salon-style, as in the famous photograph of Malevich’s works, which was the fashion of the day anyway. In the installation of the present exhibition, the order moves, more or less, from the unaligned artists to the professed Suprematists, juxtaposing Tatlin with Malevich, and finally arrives at the so-called Professional Painters, working within the minimalist, light-filled galleries of the Fondation Beyeler to avoid a “carpet” of paintings on any one wall. Thus, the show is roughly half the size of the original, out of both necessity and circumstance.

The idea of zero ostensibly reflects Malevich’s desire to reduce everything in art to nothing before anything new can be created, not unlike the Italian Futurist notion of destroying the past so that a new foundation for the present can arise. But the Futurists were really advocating physical destruction, whereas Malevich’s formulation was more philosophical and metaphysical. He wrote, “In view of the fact that we intend to reduce everything to zero, we have decided to call [the magazine] that, ‘Zero,’ and then afterward we will move beyond zero.” The “10” following the comma refers to the ten artists in „0,10“ who had previously participated in “Tramway V”, even though the number of participants in „0,10“ was later expanded to fourteen. While a participating artist (Rosanova) lamented the low turnout in a letter, the number of 6,000 visitors was impressive for a popular exhibition in 1915, let alone one that inspired such ridicule and sarcasm in the public and the press.

All petty and professional controversy aside, a centerpiece of „0,10“ was the room devoted to Malevich’s Suprematist paintings. It is believed (according to the catalogue) that there were thirty-nine on view, nine of which are listed with specific titles, twelve grouped under the category Painterly Masses in Motion, and eighteen listed collectively as Painterly Masses in the Second Dimension in a State of Rest. Of those, twenty-seven works were located as candidates for the show at the Fondation Beyeler, settling on twenty so as not to overwhelm the other artists on view. This was by far the largest number of works by any one artist in the „0,10“ exhibition, and they were received in a defamatory, celebratory, or revelatory manner by the artist’s contemporaries and succeeding generations of critics, artists, historians, and patrons, many of whom were initially familiar only with the infamous photograph reproduced in newspapers of the time in a clipped form and subsequently in differently cropped variations in nearly every book dealing with the Russian avant-garde.

Black Square (1915) hung high in one corner of the room, the place traditionally reserved for a holy icon in a Russian Orthodox household, surrounded by a Salon-style hanging of other works, with canvas or cloth covering the walls and the word “Suprematism” scrawled on a piece of paper hanging below the paintings on the left wall, along with pronouncements above it, to the right, and other labels and proclamations gracing the adjacent wall. The photograph was, and is, the historical iconography associated with „0,10“. Presumably, the other two walls, which have never been seen, were installed in a similar manner. In the „0,10“ catalogue, Malevich stated, “In naming several of the paintings I do not wish to show that forms must be sought in them. I want to point out that I regarded real forms as heaps of formless painterly masses on which a painting was created that has nothing to do with nature.”

Various anecdotes have him arriving at Madam Dobychina’s with many paintings that were still wet, which explains the extreme craquelure on works such as Black Square, the work in the Fondation Beyeler the painting in the Museum Ludwig, Cologne and others. When one paints on top of a paint surface that has not been given sufficient time to dry, the underneath dries over time, causing the upper surface to crack. Why is this significant? Because Malevich is known to have made changes to compositions as he painted them. Often, those corrections are visible in raking light. Beneath the surface of Black Square, however, there is an intriguing array of colors that conforms to the palette found in the Dynamic Suprematist works on view at „0,10“. It was the end of something and the beginning of something in one object; it was zero and infinity all at once. Stretch it sideways, and it becomes an Elongated Plane stretch it both ways, and it becomes a cross; paint it red and double it up with another square, and it evokes a feeling experienced in the world rendered in abstract terms And so on.

Vera Pestel later recalled, “But then there is this artist Malevich who drew a simple square and painted it all pink and … another one black, and then many more squares and triangles in various colors. His room was elegant, full of color, and it was pleasant shifting one’s eye from one color to another [illegible word]—all in different geometrical shapes. It was so tranquil gazing at the different squares, thinking about nothing, desiring nothing.”

Malevich was notoriously guarded about his transition from abstract to nonobjective art, reportedly placing newspaper over his studio windows so nobody could see in from the street.

Finally published in January 1916 the first edition of Malevich’s manifesto was entitled From Cubism to Futurism: The New Realism in Painting. It is retranslated in this volume for the first time since the 1970s. The first version is raw, like his new paintings were wet, with passages that make entirely transparent his intentions to do away with Futurism, as suspected by his colleagues: “But I have transformed myself into a zero of form and gone beyond “0” to “1.” Believing that Cubo-Futurism has fulfilled its tasks, I am crossing over to Suprematism, to the new realism in painting, to objectless creation.”

Embraced at first by the Bolshevists after the October Revolution as a means of universal expression, abstraction was wielded as a propaganda tool against bourgeois or capitalist beliefs in the form of “agitational propaganda” (Agitprop). Though consigned to the dustbins and storage closets by the onset of Stalinist Socialist Realism in the late 1920s and 1930s, abstraction was eventually resurrected and became, particularly in the example of Malevich, a shining beacon of Russian accomplishment and leadership in artistic invention.”




KOLLEKTSIA ! Art Contemporain en Russie 1950-200
Centre Pompidou 13.9.2016- 27.3.2017

In 2015 The Vladimir Potanin Foundation asked me to research and suggest a museum project in France linked to the forthcoming 200 years of diplomatic relations with France. After contacting the directors of major museums in Paris and writing to the President of Centre Pompidou I talked to Olga Sviblova, the Director of the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow and the project was born. It now makes the Pompidou the owner of the one of the largest collection of Russian art in the world since they had a lot of avant garde art by Kandinsky, Chagall, Malevich etc and now the best collection of post war Soviet & Russian art in Europe. I donated a painting by Ilya Kabakov and a sculpture by Yuri Avvakumov.

« KOLLEKTSIA ! » : l’art contemporain russe à l’honneur au centre Pompidou «Des projets comme celui-ci témoignent d’une confiance mutuelle entre la Russie et la France»

La collection compte 250 œuvres de 65 artistes, dont llya Kabakov, Dmitri Prigov, Komar & Melamid, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, Andrei Roiter, Oleg Kulik, Dmitri Gutov et Valery Koshlyakov. Rassemblée par les efforts conjugués de la fondation Vladimir Potanine, un des hommes les plus riches de Russie, de collectionneurs, d’héritiers et d’artistes, elle fait partie des plus vastes collections d’œuvres d’artistes russes présentées à l’étranger. « Cette collection, qui offre un panorama complet de l’histoire de l’art russe du XXe siècle, permet de dégager avec précision les principales orientations qu’il a prises en URSS et en Russie, à une époque de changements historiques foudroyants : le dégel, la stagnation, la perestroïka, le démembrement de l’URSS et la naissance d’une nouvelle Russie », a commenté Olga Sviblova, directrice du Multimedia Art Museum et commissaire russe de l’exposition, lors de la présentation officielle du projet, le 30 juillet, à Moscou. Bernard Blistène, directeur du Musée national d’Art moderne, hébergé au centre Pompidou, a pour sa part souligné « un apport crucial pour nos collections, ajoutant : Plusieurs peintres russes ont vécu en France. Mais leurs travaux en notre possession ne couvraient jusque-là que la première moitié du XXe siècle. […] Et aujourd’hui, nous avons la chance d’avoir cette extraordinaire collection d’avant-garde russe », a-t-il ajouté. Pour Oksana Oracheva, directrice de la fondation de bienfaisance Vladimir Potanine, cette donation est aussi un « geste symbolique » qui devrait favoriser une représentation « plus pertinente et plus dense » de l’art contemporain russe en France et en Europe, en attirant éventuellement d’autres dons. Le représentant du président russe pour la collaboration culturelle internationale, Mikhaïl Chvidkoï, s’est enfin félicité qu’en ces temps difficiles « des projets comme celui-ci témoignent d’une confiance mutuelle entre la Russie et la France ».


A multitude of other exhibitions were supported with my involvement in New York, Chicago, Germany, Russia & France.

Some ads of exhibition Lufthansa sponsored under my direction: