Russian Avant-garde Research Project, Cambridge
The dangerous game of name-dropping. Usage of the well-known private collections for the manufacturing of the false provenance legends.
Fakers commonly use two tactics to sell the forgeries of works of Russian art in general and Russian avant-garde in particular. The most popular of these dual options is to create a legend about a collector who hid his treasures under the sofa for dozens of years and then decided to dispose of them. Sometimes the well-known historical names are used to label the imaginary collections. (It is enough to mention a fairy tale about works of Russian avant-garde "saved" by academician Joseph Orbeli, the director of the Hermitage museum, stored by him in some secret location in Armenia, or the legend about numerous El Lissitzky's prouns owned by the constructivist architect Vladimir Krinsky.) However, usually, the phantom collectors are not known to humanity. Their names are absent from the available literature or archival sources. All those Merlins, Borisoviches, Tukalovas are either outright inventions or just names of random people (often dead) used as a figurehead for collections that never existed.
The second approach is much more audacious and dangerous. The name of the famous collector such as George Costakis or Nikolai Khardzhiev gives the fake provenance an aura of the desired solidity. If the case of the forgery attributed to Ilya Chashnik put on sale by the Tajan auction house in Paris in 2016 provoked a loud scandal because of the fake Costakis provenance, dozens of similar cases remained unnoticed.
Highly questionable works with imaginary provenance linked to well-known Russian collections appeared through the 1990s - the 2000s at art galleries and auction sales all around Europe. In some cases, fakers of provenances used relatives of the deceased collectors to provide the "certificates," proving that the artworks in question were once a part of the well-known collection.
The proposed presentation will focus on the abuse of the names of such collectors as Costakis, Khardzhiev, Shuster, Rubinstein, and others.
It also addresses the absence of a detailed description of the composition of the essential collections and easily accessible ways of checking provenance related to the names of the legendary collectors.
Russian Avant-garde scholar, New York
Masha Chlenova (Ph.D., Columbia University) is a New York based art historian and curator, specializing in modern art with a focus on the Russian avant-garde and Soviet museology. She worked in curatorial departments in several major museums, including the Guggenheim, MoMA and the Stedelijk, and is currently organizing a large-scale exhibition of Russian and Soviet art for the Munch Museum in Oslo. Her writing has appeared in the journal October, in edited books and in numerous exhibition catalogs. She teaches art history at the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School.
My presentation will examine the defining role Alfred H. Barr, Jr. and The Museum of Modern Art in New York played in preserving the legacy of the Russian avant-garde and inscribing it into the history of international modernism while it was being written. Barr’s well-known stay in the Soviet Union in the winter of 1927-28 laid the foundation for his life-long dedication to the idealist and radically innovative work of Russians artists working in all media, from theater to visual arts, design, film, and architecture. MoMA’s collecting, research and trailblazing exhibitions starting in the 1930s brought the Russian avant-garde into the international artistic circuits MoMA cultivated. Less known are Barr’s staunch defense of its legacy against the attacks of McCarthy conservatives in the 1950s, his two subsequent trips to the USSR during the Thaw, his connection with George Costakis, support of Camilla Gray’s research and writing, collaborations with Pontus Hultén, Willem Sandberg and Troels Andersen in the 1950s, and acquisitions of works by the younger generation of Soviet artists Barr discovered during his visits to the USSR in the 1950s. Based on extensive research in MoMA’s archives, this talk will include little known facets of MoMA’s sustained and rigorous engagement with the legacy of the Russian avant-garde in the west from the late 1920s until the reopening of Soviet borders in the 1980s. It will also highlight Barr’s consistent reliance on human connections above and beyond the limitations of ideologies and geographical borders, and his dedication to protecting the freedom of artistic expression from those he called “philistines with political power.”
 Barr, Introduction, Cubism and Abstract Art (NY: MoMA, 1936), 18.
Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia
Gustav Klucis (1895–1938): complexity of transformation from ‘Soviet artist’ into ‘Russian Avant-Garde artist’. Some individual aspects.
Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia
Tatiana Goryaeva, Advisor to the Director of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, head of the project "House of Text", Doctor of History. Worked as a senior researcher at the All-Union Archival Science and Records Management Research Institute, later as a professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities. From 2000 to 2019 served as Director of the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art. Research interests: source studies, archaeography, archival science, Soviet cultural policy, history of Soviet censorship, history of Soviet radio.
Коллекционирование как научно-исследовательский метод: к анализу модели архивной части коллекции Н.И. Харджиева
Collecting as a research method: analysis of the structure of the archival part of Nikolai Khardzhiev’s collection
В докладе история складывания коллекции и её структура будет впервые представлена и проанализирована как научно-исследовательский объект и культурно-исторический феномен (на примере архивных частей коллекций Н.И. Харджиева и И.С. Зильберштейна).
Как известно, Харджиев чрезвычайно негативно относился к тому, что его называли коллекционером. Он рассматривал свою роль как участника, свидетеля, исследователя, историографа и визионера литературно-художественного авангарда, и даже больше, он как бы состоял спасателем, хранителем и экспертом при сокровищах, которые не хотел ни с чем смешивать и ни с кем делить. И не только, потому, что вдобавок ещё являлся активатором создания документированной истории русского авангарда, которая затем концентрировалась в его архиве - это и автобиография К. Малевича, и воспоминания Н.Я. Мандельштам о жизни в Киеве в 1919 году, и воспоминания Н.Ф. Чужака о переписке с В.В. Маяковским и другие - но и, прежде всего, по составу и содержанию, сохраненной им коллекции, которая была затем структурирована в его личном фонде в РГАЛИ.
Об этом свидетельствует состав самого архивного собрания, его структура и характерная модель, которая свойственна для исследовательского процесса, когда документ, артефакт, художественное произведение не является самоцелью, а встроены в авторскую концепцию. Тому примером также является архивная часть знаменитой коллекции И.С. Зильберштейна. Между тем Зильберштейн являет собой другой тип коллекционера. И несмотря на то, что в советское время все коллекционеры и их коллекции в разной степени испытывали на себе давление государства и угрозу конфискации, каждый из них выбирал свой путь и способы медиации с государством. В данном случае пример Зильберштейна и его коллекции выбран именно для демонстрации разных поведенческих моделей, своего рода психотипа феномена «рефлекса цели», роли государственных институций в формировании, сохранении и дальнейшей судьбы частных коллекций.
Russian State Academy of Fine Arts, Moscow
Mikhail Kamensky, b. 1959, Russian art-historian, PhD., full member of the Russian state academy of fine arts. Author of numerous publications on the history and sociology of collector culture in Russia. Worked at the Russian institute of art-history and art-criticism, the Pushkin Fine Arts museum and Sotheby’s Russia. Currently is a research fellow of the Russian state academy of fine arts.
History of the painting ‘The Crossed White Square’ (1919) from the collection of Nikolai Khardzhiev
Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia
One of the key-points of avant-garde artists was searching for "a new tool" (W.I. Kandinsky) meaning not only visuality, but also synesthetic and multi-sensory approach. Experiments with noise, scent, movement, space and touch are the less documented and researched parts of the heritage of Russian Avant-Garde. The importance of such archives cannot be overestimated not only for art-history and collecting, but also in the context of new multi-sensory visuality, developed actively in contemporary exhibition practice.
Art Institute of Chicago, United States of America
Maria Kokkori is Associate Scientist at the Art Institute of Chicago and Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago. She is vice-president of the Malevich Society in New York and her research, teaching and writings focus on Russian modernism, and the materiality of art. Author and co-editor of "Utopia: Russian art and culture 1900-1989", she is currently working on a book publication on Kazimir Malevich and the Unovis group.
The ‘melancholia’ of collecting
In Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (2011), Justine, one of the main characters, after abandoning her wedding guests and barricading herself in the library of her sister’s house, frantically substitutes art books displaying images of old masters’ works in place of those featuring Suprematist paintings by Kazimir Malevich. This forty-second dystopian scene just before the world’s end is, in my view, the most representative account of the challenges in collecting avantgarde art. It exemplifies the themes of continuity and discontinuity, saving and loss, inclusion and exclusion, classification, social erasures, political repression, and the destructiveness of time.
It has long been accepted that two collections that enhance and complement each other, that of George Costakis and Nikolai Khardzhiev, played a tremendous role in rescuing works from oblivion giving them new and unexpected lives, and shaping modernist aesthetics. Through their collections, Costakis and Khardzhiev allowed avant-garde to reconstruct its particular stories and make up an all-encompassing culture. In this paper through case studies of selected works by Kazimir Malevich - an oil painting from the Georges Costakis collection and a drawing from the Art Institute of Chicago (former Khardzhiev collection) - I will argue that these two collections define that archaeological work to which Freud referred, which proceeds by peeling apart the layers of knowledge, transformed history, inspired modernism, informed the collecting practices of Western-European and American collections, and continue to resonate and shape.
Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia
Алла Луканова – историк искусства, специализируется на изучении русского искусства конца XIX – начала XX в.; автор монографии Наталия Гончарова (2017), куратор выставок (Restart, 2018) и автор многочисленных изданий по русскому искусству рубежа XIX – XX в., в том числе Энциклопедии русского авангарда. Работала в Гос.Третьяковской галерее (1977-2000), с 1988 - хранитель парижского живописного наследия М.Ларионова и Н.Гончаровой; с 2000 - в Гос.музее изобразительных искусств им. А.С. Пушкина, заместитель заведующего Отделом личных коллекций. Член Ассоциации искусствоведов. Заслуженный работник культуры РФ.
Московское наследие Соломона Никритина в Отделе личных коллекций Пушкинского музея. Опыт систематизации
Moscow legacy of Solomon Nikritin in the Private Collections Department of the Pushkin Museum. Practice of systematisation
Cultural Charity Foundation U-ART, Moscow
Since 2015 assistant professor of Art history at the Moscow State Stroganov Academy of Design and Applied Arts where she teaches courses on the Russian and foreign art of the XX-XXI centuries and serves as a mentor for students holding undergraduate research assistantship. Since 2016 director of the Cultural Charity Foundation U-ART
From pre-revolutionary collections to Soviet ones. On the materials from N.E. Dobychina’s archive.
The Dobychina’s biography of 1920s-1940s. allows us to assert, that in Soviet times she continued to perform an important role in the field of art. In early 1920s, she was in charge of the exhibition departments of several organizations in Petrograd (Leningrad), from 1932 to 1934 she worked as a Senior Researcher at the Russian Museum, after which she moved to Moscow, where she headed the Art Department of the Museum of the Revolution. All these years Nadezhda Evseevna kept her art collection. It would be natural to assume that its composition did not remain unchanged. However, based on the three collection inventories, compiled in 1919, 1924 and 1930, it can be argued that some of the works constituted the backbone of the collection, about which she reflects in one of her later diary notes as follows: “Everyone does not understand how this 'beggar'(this is me) wants to live in a separate apartment, wants to have a 'collection’, wants to donate this collection at the end of life to a state that is richer than me!".
The most striking artworks by M.Vrubel, V.Serov, V.Borisov-Musatov, D.Stelletsky, M. Saryan, P.Utkin, A.Benois, apparently, for a long time decorated the walls of the apartments of Nadezhda Evseevna and her son, despite all vicissitudes of fate through which they had to go. Thanks to the research, it was possible to trace the fate of some of her artworks that fell into various museums and private collections (the collections of Shuster, Abrahamyan, Myasnikov, Dudakov). The history of the collection of the Dobychin family is one of the striking examples of the continuity between pre-revolutionary and Soviet private collections.
State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
AICA member, chief scientific researcher The State Tretyakov Gallery, curator of several exhibitions, main are: Pavel Filonov’s School (Moscow, 1987), Pavel Filonov (TG,1988), Lubov Popova, (TG; in Russian part -New-York, Los-Angeles, Koln, Madrid,1989-1992), Travel into humanity (First International Platonov Arts Festival, Voronezh, 2011); George Costakis. Exit from the USSR allow… (TG, 2014); Ivan Kudryashov (TG,2021); author of many publications and articles for Encyclopedia of Russian avant-garde by V. Rakitine and A. Sarabyanov (2013).
The avant-garde collection of George Сostakis in 1977. Principles of the section.
In the history of the George Costakis collection, 1977 will forever remain a rubicon. The dramatic division of the collection that took place at that time, due to the observance of legal norms when the collector's family left the USSR, is replete with many details that have never been the subject of special study. The main documents regulating the process of transferring part of the collection to state museums were made public by M. Tsantsanoglu in 2013 in Moscow and published a year later in the catalog of the anniversary exhibition. The original plan of the partition, proposed by G. D. Costakis in his address to the MK of the USSR, was adjusted in the process of transfer. What changes took place, what were the arguments of each of the parties, what is the significance of the gift of Costakis for the collection of avant-garde art of the Tretyakov Gallery. - these and other aspects, which are extremely interesting for understanding the artistic priorities of that era, will be discussed in the report.
Art historian and Critic
Art historian, art critic, publisher. Researcher and expert of the art of Russian avant-garde. Exhibitions’ curator and curator of the Centre of Avant-garde at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre, Moscow. Author, compiler (together with Vasily Rakitin) and scientific editor of the three-volume "Encyclopedia of the Russian Avant-garde”.
Researcher, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Robbie Schweiger studied Art History at the University of Amsterdam and Russian and Eurasian Studies at Leiden University. He curates research and exhibition projects and is interested in the pluralization of human and non-human perspectives and different systems for gaining/propagating knowledge. Currently, he works as a researcher at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
Artcheology: Going Underground in Soviet Uzbekistan.
This year the collection of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam will be enriched with a donation of 22 works by thirteen artists from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. For this paper I focus on one of these artists: Vyacheslav Akhunov (1948). Living and working in Soviet Uzbekistan, this non-conformist artist stood at the forefront of a new wave in Central Asian art production, an underground parallel culture that broke away from official art in Soviet Central Asia since the 1970s. In examining the formation and work of Akhunov, this paper applies the term “underground” both in a literal as a metaphorical sense. Especially in the light of his contact with collector, artist and archeologist Igor Savitsky and his collection of modernist art but also his archeology collection.
Art historian, Moscow
Maria Timina was born in Moscow in 1996. Being a postgraduate student at Lomonosov Moscow State University (Section of History of Russian Art) and writing a PhD dissertation on Ivan Kliun, she also works as a senior researcher at the Manuscripts Department of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.
Archives and narratives: Ivan Kliun’s materials in the archival collections of Nikolai Khardzhiev and George Costakis