Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Russian Art. Auctions & Exhibitions, Propaganda Posters. Saatchi Gallery.

The demand for Russian art and antiques is seen world-wide at auctions, exhibitions, galleries and also online. Ownership of Russian art is also proving to be a good investment

Russian art auctions are held twice a year in the UK by Christie’s, Sotheby’s, MacDougall and Bonhams: auctions in November and December 2012 reached a combined total of £36.9 million, which was less than expected but a large amount during a recession.  New world records are continually broken at these auctions.

Buyers are mainly Russian or Ukrainian, although Christie’s say they have had bidders from fifty countries. Philanthropist computer oligarch Alexandr Ivanov often bids for his Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden and for Orthodox icons which he donates to Russian churches.

Dreweatts, the UK's leading regional auctioneers, regularly feature Russian artists and other artefacts: in December 2012 they auctioned portraits of cosmonauts and other interesting, related items.

Commercial art galleries and online suppliers also supply Russian art, antiques, icons, anything Czarist, Fabergé, jewellery, furniture and porcelain for collectors .

Poster of a woman worker
Poster of a Mower, 1939 by Malevich
The former humble propaganda posters from the Soviet era are now historically and deservedly important, exceptionally fine and stirring examples of the genre; valuable, difficult to obtain, and need export permits.
Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall and Naum Gabo are artists who lived outside Russia and are therefore well-known, but many others from inside Russia are becoming famous since the break-up of the Soviet Union. In 2010. Natalia Goncharova's l'Espagnole fetched the highest price ever paid at auction for a woman artist  
Les Fleurs by Natalia Goncharova
Les Fleurs painted in 1912 by Natalia Goncharova, 1881-1962, sold for over £5,529,250 ($10,870,506) at Christie’s, London, in 2008. 

 l’Espagnole by Natalia Goncharova
 was sold by Christie's UK in 2010 for the record price for a woman artist: 
£6,425,250 /$10,247,607;

Goncharova was Pushkin’s great-niece, and went with her husband to live in Paris in 1915. Like Grandma Moses she had bad arthritis, and couldn’t hold her arm up to an easel, so she used to paint in bed with the canvas on her lap. She collaborated on sets and costumes with Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes, and her work was futuristic, Cubist and eminently hangable.

In 2011 Ilya Repin’s Parisian Café sold for £4,521,250 ($7,396,123), a world auction record for Repin and 19th Century Russian painting.

The Coachman by Boris Kustodiev,1878-1927, was bought by a private collector for £4,409,250 from Christie's in  2012, a new world record for Kustodiev and 120% above estimate.

Kustodiev was born in Astrakhan and studied under Repin in St Petersburg. He travelled throughout Europe, but always missed his homeland. He wanted to paint traditional Russia before it changed When he was only 39 he contracted tuberculosis of the spine and by 1916 was a paraplegic, but continued to paint, often from memory, as paralysis confined him to the home.

2012. Shevchenko’s charming City Outskirts fetched £433,250 ($694,067), way above the estimate of £50,000.
Aleksandr Shevchenko, 1883-1948, was born in Ukraine and studied in Moscow and Paris.  He wrote Neo-Primitivism, an influential book in 1913, proposing art based on Cubism, Futurism and Russian folk art. Chagall and Goncharova became followers
The Charles Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea is on trend as usual and is currently showing two exhibitions:
Breaking The Ice: Moscow Art, 1960-80s until 24 Feb 2013.
Gaiety is the most Outstanding Feature of the Soviet Union: New Art from Russia until 5 May.
Duke of York's Square, King's Road, Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW3 4SQ
Admission is free.