CULTURE

Kostakis collection goes on an international tour

In preparing for an exhibition on works of the Russian avant-garde that the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki is holding at Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau Museum, specialists discovered an undocumented work painted by Liubov Popova on the back of a portrait by the same artist and dated around 1914. Specialists claim that the painting is a study in color of «Italian Still-Life,» a well-known work by Popova that is owned by the Tretiakov Gallery and which was also painted at roughly the same time. They also claim that because the newly discovered painting was painted upside-down from the image on the reverse side, it not intended to be seen in conjunction with the image on the main side (recto/verso) but was made as an independent painting. It is held to be an unusual work that includes words and which stylistically belongs to the artist’s Cubo-Futurist period. This unexpected discovery – which was actually made in the process of cleaning the painting and changing its original frame – is sure to spark the curiosity of international specialists. Concerted research has already began on behalf of the State Museum of Contemporary Art. Three hundred and fifty works from the Kostakis collection of avant-garde Russian art as well as a large part of the Kostakis archive were presented at an exhibition that opened less than a week ago at Berlin’s Martin Gropius Bau Museum in collaboration with the State Museum of Contemporary Art and the Berlin Branch of the Greek Foundation for Culture. The exhibition received positive full-page reviews in the German press and was received as one of the city’s cultural highlights of the season. Although the State Museum of Contemporary Art has consistently collaborated with prestigious museums abroad, this is the first time that it has organized such a major international exhibition drawn exclusively from its own permanent collection. Headed by the museum’s director Miltiadis Papanikolaou, a committee of international specialists in the field has researched the use of light and color in the Russian avant-garde, the topic which the exhibition addresses. The works cover the period from 1900-1943 and are structured according to themes such as monochromy, the use of electric light, light in relation to the spiritual quests of the art of the time, and the effects of photography and cinema on the Russian avant-garde. Ranging from the sparely colored paintings of Malevich to the brightly colored, figurative paintings of Nikritin, the exhibition is typified by variety and includes works that are being shown for the first time. The State Museum is known for publishing fully researched catalogs on the occasion of each exhibition it organizes. For this particular occasion it has appointed the German «DuMONT» publishers, who have produced a catalog that includes numerous specialized essays by researchers of nine different nationalities. Having opened just a few days ago in Berlin, the exhibition will travel to the Vienna Museum of Contemporary Art’s Ludwig Collection in mid-February, and will end up at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki in mid-June. The main part of the exhibition’s cost is subsidized by the Martin Gropius Bau Museum. The exhibition is yet another example of how the Kostakis collection has helped the museum acquire international exposure and facilitate networking in the field of research. Benefiting from this rare collection – which the Greek state bought in 2000 for the sum of 14.2 billion drachmas (41.7 million euros) – is one of the museum’s greatest responsibilities, which exhibitions such as the ongoing one at the Martin Gropius Bau museum help fulfill. The museum has consistently striven to advance research on the Russian avant-garde and bring international exposure to its collection. The current exhibition in Berlin is one of the most significant indications of the museum’s work in this direction. Info: www.greekstatemuseum.com