The Russian avant-garde seen in a new light

An international symposium exploring the impact of Byzantine art on the Russian avant-garde art movement of the early 20th century begins today and will run to the end of the week at the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki. The symposium, organized by the museum in collaboration with the University of Southern California and Professor John Bowlt, is the first international meeting of experts who will create a theoretical context for the valuable Costakis Collection of Russian avant-garde art bought a year ago by the museum. Set to become an annual institution, future symposiums will hopefully spark off scholarly debate on the Russian avant-garde and by extension, bring the museum and its collection to world attention. The current symposium anticipates an exhibit on the same theme (the impact on Byzantine art on the Russian avant-garde) that the Contemporary Art Museum has planned for next year. It also reflects what may be a growing international interest on the part of several museums on examining the Byzantine impact on the avant-garde. The Iconen Museum of Frankfurt, for instance, is planning an exhibit on the relationship between the Russian avant-garde and Russian icons for late next year and so is the Walters Gallery in Baltimore in collaboration with the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. A future exhibit at the Guggenheim will also examine the work of Malevich compared with religious icons while a recent exhibit at the Tretiakov was based on the same theme. Training Day

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