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RUSSIAN NIGHTS. A CULTURAL EXPERIENCE

About russian nights festival
Mission statement
The TOWER Award
History
Photo gallery
Greeting letters
Next event: Korea, Seoul, Sept. 15-24, 2006
General Information
Program
Organizers
Tickets
Press acreditation


 

Moscow Grafika: Artists' Prints 1961 - 2005
 

The Stas Namin Centre in collaboration with the Kolodzei Art Foundation presents Moscow Grafika: Artists' Prints 1961 - 2005-- Selections from the Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art.

The work included in Moscow Grafika is as diverse as the megalopolis of
Moscow itself. For over a century, Moscow has attracted artists from all parts of the former Soviet Union and . There is no single style or school which unites the work of these artists. Instead the prints in Moscow Grafika construct a cultural image of Moscow from 1961 to today by presenting work by a wide range of artists documenting historic trends in non-conformist art as well as current explorations by artists originating from Moscow and now working in different parts of the world. More than forty prints by thirty artists in various printmaking techniques are included in the show.  

Artists represented in Moscow Grafika include Yuri Albert, Vagrich Bakhchanyan, Grisha Bruskin, Andrei Budaev, Ivan Chuikov, Andrei Filippov, Valeryi Gerlovin, Eduard Gorokhovsky, Marina Karpova, Ilya Kabakov, Alexander Kosolapov, Lev Kropivnitsky, Valentina Kropivnitskaia, Ernst Neizvestny, Scherer & Ouporov, Leonid Sokov, Victor Pivovarov, Dmitri Plavinsky, Oscar Rabin, Yuri Sobolev, Marina Telepneva, Oleg Tselkov, Oleg Vassiliev, Vladimir Yankilevsky, and Alexander Zakharov.

Moscow Grafika represents several generations of non-conformist and independent artists, beginning with the Soviet non-conformist artists who emerged during the post-Stalin "thaw" of the 1950’s, championing an alternative to Socialist Realism. In an atmosphere of spiritual awakening, new hope for freedom in the arts appeared. Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin in his "secret speech" in 1956, the return of political prisoners, and the easing of aesthetic restraints during the 1960’s and 1970’s provided an environment that encouraged artistic creativity.

   

 Andrei Budaev

 

 Valeryi Gerlovin

 

 Victor Pivovarov

 

Most of the prints made in the 1960’s and the 1970’s were produced by the artists themselves in small editions due both to the absence of an art market and limited access to materials. For example, the Experimental Lithography Studio was accessible during Soviet times only to members of the official Union of Artists. Lithographic stones were numbered and inspected from time to time by state officials, making it very difficult for non-members of the Union to gain access to materials. However, despite these difficulties Moscow artists persisted, creating prints and experimenting with varieties of styles and techniques.

Oscar Rabin (b. 1928) was one of the leaders of the non-conformist movement and the organizer of the "Bulldozer Show" of 1974, when the Soviet authorities broke up the exhibition with bulldozers—destroying much of the artwork. Known for his depictions of desolate streets, suburban slums, and religious imagery, he is represented in this exhibition by Book in the Cemetery (1970). Both Christianity and Judaism, as spiritual and philosophical alternatives to Communist ideology, played an important role in the Russian cultural revival that took place from the 60’s to the 80’s. However, until perestroika, art which was in any way supportive of religion—Christian or Jewish—was disapproved by Soviet authorities. Dmitri Plavinsky’s Shroud of Christ (1969) was one such example. Such works were often removed from exhibitions and banned from public display or even confiscated.

Surrealism, reintroducing previously banned religious and erotic imagery, become popular in Moscow in the 1970’s and is represented by Vladimir Yankilevsky’s King of Darkness (1975), and by the work of Yuri Sobolev (b. 1928) and Oleg Tselkov (b. 1934). 

   

 Oleg Vassiliev

 

 Andrei Filippov

 

 Vladimir Yankilevsky

 

 The appropriation of images and text from Soviet mass culture led to the emergence of Soviet conceptualism in the early 1970’s. "Can I Put My Chair Here and Sit Down?" asks Ivan Petrovitch Rybakov, and Nikita Efimovitch Yershov answers "You Are Welcome" in Ilya Kabakov’s lithograph (1981-82). The language of the communalka, or communal apartment, infiltrates Ilya Kabakov’s art, representing the realities of everyday life in Soviet Russia. Eduard Gorokhovsky’s From Family Alum, a portrait of pre-revolutionary , appropriates photographic images, referring to the destruction of the family unit brought on by Stalin’s forced collectivization.

The last group of artists, including Marina Karpova (b. 1961), Andrei Budaev (b. 1963), Sergei Mironenko (b. 1959) and Andrei Filippov (b. 1959), first became known during the perestroika period. With the birth of a free and democratic and the lifting of the Iron Curtain in 1989, many artists were able to travel abroad and work in print studios in Europe and . In the post-perestroika period of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, exhibitions of Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, and Gilbert and George took place in Moscow, and in 1991, American printer Dennis O’Neal opened the Moscow Studio where several artists included in Moscow Grafika made screenprints.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Russian artists lost their prime target—and the central focus of their work. Many recaptured a sense of what it meant to be Russian by turning to personal narrative subjects. By the mid 1990’s, had become part of the international art scene with many of its artists addressing subjects and ideas similar to those of their counterparts in London and New York. While developments in technology and digital processes became part of their printmaking, the traditional techniques did not die. Many contemporary artists in Moscow continue to work in traditional processes such as etching and engraving. Moscow Grafika documents the Russian artist of today within the context of diversity of the Moscow art scene over the last four and a half decades.

The exhibition Moscow Grafika: Artists' Prints 1961 - 2005-- Selections from the Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art was first presented at the International Print Center New York in November 2005, complimenting the
Guggenheim Museum’s Russia! show.

Natalia Kolodzei
Executive Director, curator
Kolodzei Art Foundation, Inc.