Getting to Grips with Contemporary Russian

The art world can be one of the hardest things to get into. Why? Well, it can be pretty daunting. People are worried about not knowing enough, not being able to decipher complex paintings or the sentiment behind a sculpture. This is such a shame! After all, art is there to be enjoyed by everyone. One picture can offer a unique experience to hundreds of people. Let’s stick by Roland Barthes and say that the author is dead: the original meaning or intention of a piece of work falls second to however it makes you feel, what thoughts it provokes in your mind, what you take away from it. So, where do you start? Of course, there are the renowned greats in various fields. Van Gogh and Monet spearheading Impressionism, Andy Warhol playing posterboy for the pop art movement, not to mention classical giants such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. However, why not try out something a little further from the beaten track. Let’s take a look at contemporary Russian art for now.

Contemporary Russian Art
Is boosting in popularity, with renowned art collectors such as Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor investing heavily in the area. Though you may think that collectors picking up these works may result in them becoming a part of inaccessible private collections, you can actually see various works online, source prints, or visit them on public display. Moshe Kantor, for example, owns works by painters varying from Marc Chagall of the School of Paris to conceptualists such as Ilya Kabakov, and Erik Bulatov. These are all on display at Moscow’s Museum of Avant-Garde Mastery, which he founded in 2001. Here’s a brief run through of each of these aforementioned artists to give you a gist of what you can expect from their works.
Marc Chagall
Marc Chagall is a Belorussian born artist who left for France having studied painting in his native land. Living in an artist’s colony on the outskirts of Paris, he created renowned pieces of work such as I and the Village, Green Violinist, Paris Through The Window, White Crucifixion and La Mariee. His works are clearly influenced by Cubism (so popular in Paris at the time), however doesn’t lose his own signature dreamlike imagery.
Ilya Kabakov
Born in Dnipropetrovsk, Ilya Kabakov is best known for works such as Holiday #1 and The New Accordion. He uses oils to create “empty” landscapes and backdrops which are then dotted with shiny, colourful foil. His works form a dialogue with those of Pavel Pepperstein who you might also like to take a look at.
Erik Bulatov
Raised in Moscow, Erik Bulatov is the son of a communist party official who studied painting at the Surikov Art Institute. He formed the Sretensky Boulevard Group in the 1960s, alongside aforementioned Ilya Kabakov, Edik Steinberg, Oleg Vassiliev, Vladimir Yankilevsky, and Viktor Pivovarov. Many of his paintings feature landscapes, people, and urban settings laid over words and phrases which often distort the image.
These are just a few Russian artists whose works may interest you. But don’t let these names confine you. Stray further and find what you appreciate of your own accord.



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