On Thursday Russian Art Week will open in London. This is a major new event in the arts calendar in the United Kingdom. The project was set up by the online magazine Russian Art & Culture in conjunction with the major auction houses and galleries. The Russian art market has remained strong despite the double-dip recession and many wealthy Russian buyers have secondary homes in the capital. Over the weekend Christie's, Sotheby's, Bonhams and MacDougalls will be hosting sales of Russian works of art and paintings.
Highlights of this week's sales include a river landscape by Vladimir Orlovsky at Bonhams and a portrait of Mademoiselle Podbelskaya by Nicolai Fechin at Christie's. The specialist Russian auction house MacDougalls is offering a major painting by Mikhail Larionov, one of the leading members of the Russian avant-garde. Amongst many works Sotheby's are offering a moonlit landscape painting by Ivan Aivazovsky of the Galata Tower and several important icons.
The auction houses have traditionally held bi-annual sales in June and November of Russian art. However, this is the first time that all the sales and related cultural events have been joined up together in one place. Russian Art & Culture has published an inaugural guide to this event and also created a new online platform for Russian Art Week. The website features sale highlights with images of all the top lots from each sale in addition to a comprehensive directory of galleries, specialist institutions and a calendar of events.
To coincide with Russian Art Week there are a number of other cultural events taking place in London. Charles Saatchi has curated two major shows of Russian art at his gallery in Chelsea. 'Gaiety is the most outstanding feature of the Soviet Union' showcases the work of eighteen Russian artists in a major exhibition of contemporary art. Upstairs another exhibition is dedicated to Moscow art from the 1960s to 1980s. The Calvert22 Gallery in Shoreditch has also commissioned a major work by leading avant-garde architect Alexander Brodsky entitled 'White Room/Black Room'. Other exhibitions taking place this week include new works by Alexei Kallima at Regina Gallery featuring his custom-built installation of a supermarket. Sphinx Fine Art are presenting works on paper including Russian drawings and watercolours. Finally Aktis Gallery are presenting an overview from avant-garde to Non-Conformist works.
For members of the public who are interested in other Russian cultural activities, aside from art, there are also several performances and plays on in London. Sputnik Theatre which specialises in bringing new Russian work to London is showing 'One Hour Eighteen Minutes'. This unusual play examines the life of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in detention after suing Putin's Government. Rachael Young and the Russian Virtuosi of Europe are also scheduled to play on friday at the Cadogan Hall. Pushkin House, another great Russian cultural centre in London, is hosting a Futurist performance of 'Victory over the Sun'.
The range of Russian cultural activities on in London demonstrates its ongoing popularity. Russian Art Week looks set to follow in the footsteps of Freize and other major art events to become an important date in the artworld calendar in Britain. The Russian sales over the next few days will also demonstrate how resilient the market is in a year of economic uncertainty.
For details of all the events and to download a free guide to Russian Art Week visit www.russianartweek.co.uk
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