Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Courtauld to host Russian art conference 'UTOPIA II' 1930-1989

The 'Utopia II' conference is being organised by the Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Centre (CCRAC) and coincides with the exhibition at the Royal Academy 'Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935'. The conference will take place on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 November 2011 in the Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre at The Courtauld Institute of Art. This event is being organised by Professor John Milner and Drs Maria Kokkori and Maria Mileeva.

The utopian intellectual tradition has a long history that some trace back to Plato’s Republic, even though most scholars consider Thomas More’s Utopia as the definitive starting point of modern utopian thought in the Western world. Utopia comes from the Greek ου (no) and τóπος (place) and implies both the no place and the (eutopos) good place; the not-yet and the possible, the nothing and the perfection.

Utopias conveyed as a transformation, are entrenched in the culture and time in which they have emerged. Utopia and Utopianism in Russian art and culture vary from concrete images of a better place to abstract notions of a future state of freedom; they also range from spatial to temporal models. Utopian ideas in Russia were defined not as ideas in direct opposition to reality, but as objects of potential historical realisation.

Following the conference on Saturday, the Royal Academy will host a special reception that will allow everyone from the conference to see the show.

Sotheby's announces Russian art sales for London

The art auction house Sotheby's has announced the dates of its forthcoming Russian art sales. The four sales will take place during 28-30 November, 2011 in London: 

Important Russian Art- November 28th 7pm
Highlights from the 19th century include an large moonlit view of St Petersburg by Alexei Bogoliubov at £400,000-600,000, a charming view of haystacks by Shishkin from a Danish private collection at £250,000-350,000 and one of the finest boyarina portraits by Konstantin Makovsky to be sold in recent years valued at £150,000 – 250,000. The early 20th century is represented by a rare 1914 work by Nikolai Roerich at £400,000-600,000, and a 1916 still life of Tatar artefacts by Petr Konchalovsky formerly in the collection of the art historian Waldemar George estimated at £500,000-700,000. Other high-calibre paintings are by Nikolai Tarkhoff, Sergei Vinogradov, Konstantin Gorbatov, Dmitry Stelletsky and Mstislav Dobuzhinsky among others.

Russian Paintings- November 29th 10.30am
This day sale will feature fine and decorative paintings from the 18th to the 20th century and will include a section dedicated to the work of Non-conformist and Contemporary Russian artists. 

An important collection of works by Alexandre Benois- November 29th 2pm
This private collection of watercolours by Alexander Benois includes set and costume designs from productions such as Petrushka, The Nightingale and Sleeping Beauty, charming family portraits, rare views of St. Petersburg, Versailles and Venice, which will be offered alongside Benois’ letters and sketchbooks. The artist’s extensive annotations provide an extraordinary insight into the life of one of Russia’s most famous watercolourists and the appearance of this extraordinary collection on the market is an important addition to scholarship on the artist.

Russian works of art, Fabergé and Icons- November 30th 10.30am
Highlights will include a Fabergé jewelled gold, enamel and agate box executed in 18th century Parisian taste, property from a private Far Eastern collector estimated at £40-60,000.
It will also include a charming Fabergé silver-mounted clay brick match holder at £20-30,000.
Amongst porcelain, enamelled and silver objects, we will also be offering a wide choice of bronzes including portraits of Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna.
The Orthodox world will be represented by highly decorative icons made of silver-gilt and cloisonné enamel as well as earlier Russian icons dated to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

For further information on the sales see the Sotheby's website:

British Library discusses Science Fiction & Modern Utopia

On Friday September 16th the British Library hosted a one day study day on Science Fiction. The first round table discussion concerned 'Modern Utopia: what is ideal?'. Speakers included Maya Oppenheimer (London Consortium), Dan Smith (Chelsea College of Art), Natalia Budanova (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Matthew Beaumont (UCL) and was chaired by the Professor of Russian Art at the Courtauld, Dr. John Milner. 

The event was held to support the library's 'Out of this World' exhibition and to explore the ways in which science fiction has inspired and impacted research and study across a wide range of disciplines. 

Full programme details here:

New Russian Art and Culture website launched

Welcome to Russian Art and Culture! This new website is currently under construction. I will be updating this site with articles and reviews on upcoming exhibitions and recent publications on Russian art. Recent news and interesting events in the UK which relate to Russian culture will also be posted. 

Do get in touch with me if you have news or articles you would like to share with our readers. Curators, academics and graduate students are encouraged to be contributors. Please get in touch if you would like to contribute to the site.