The emergence of the market for Russian Modernist Art is a
fascinating narrative, symmetrical as it is to the dramatic collapse
of the Iron Curtain. The on-going plot is even more intriguing
because of the historical ironies involved and the fast paced tempo
in which the story continues to evolve. The cast of characters
includes passionate artists, compelled to express their inner
visions, art lovers, art dealers and art experts, both historians
Prior to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Russian art collectors
were among the most prominent and prolific in the world, on occasion
snapping up whole collections. The Soviet Era put an end to that
practice. Ironically, 100 years later, art collectors from Russia
and the United States are spending millions acquiring Russian art,
some of the finest in the world. In fact, an auction of Russian art
at Sotheby's in New York (April 2005) brought in $35,167, 720,
setting a world record at five times the estimated value. In the
past three years, each successive auction at Sotheby's and Christie
has resulted in increased revenues. As a result, art experts believe
Russian art will continue to grow in popularity. Recent history and
economic forecasts justify their optimism.
More billionaires reside in Russia than anywhere else on the planet,
according to Forbes Magazine. While that irony might depress a Karl
Marx, the economic factors necessary for enormous capital formation
over such a short period of time are clearly evident. Russia is rich
in natural resources, especially oil. The increase in the value of
art is directly linked to the rise in the price of crude, according
to Stern in the News, a publication of New York University's Leonard
N. Stern's School of Business.
In the 20 th Century the most famous Russian painters - Chagall,
Kandinsky and Malevich, for example, were first recognized outside
of Russia. Once these artists became famous, they were embraced in
their homeland where the wealthiest collectors vied for their works.
The recent discovery of quality Russian art of the Soviet era has
followed the trend. Initially dismissed by post-Soviet intellectuals
as little more than propaganda, the fine art produced during the
Soviet Era has now been recognized by international art critics and
collectors for its inherent aesthetics and value.
Pioneer art scholar Kenneth Pushkin, understood the opportunity when
he first visited Russia, the land of his ancestors, in the early
90's. With his network of Russian art historians, he scoured the
cities and the countryside to find the works of these lost masters.
This ongoing process is not an easy one, but the results justify the
effort. When Kenneth discovers a rare painting or collection and
brings it back to the Pushkin Gallery, another chapter is added to
one of the most exhilarating dramas in art history, a story that is
far from over.
Peter & Paul Fortress, 1964
27 x 32"