1960s UNOFFICIAL ART
BELENOK Petr Ivanovich (1938–1991) In the name of peace and progress. 1979. Hardboard, author's technique, oil, collage. 142 × 115
The context is important here. Remember, what is 1979? In the “decaying West”, there is a computer revolution. There is an incredible seething of energies, a passionate explosion. In the U.S., there is a consumption boom. McDonalds, Wendy's and Burger King are waging “burger wars”. And at the same time, other wars are starting. The Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, the Shah's flight and the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the storming of Amin's palace and the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan. At the same time in the USSR — the height of the era of stagnation. Propaganda against the backdrop of growing scarcity. But at the same time, 1979 is a time of rapid scientific and technological progress. The USSR was launching several manned space vehicles per year, placing into orbit scientific satellites for ocean sounding, and launching nuclear submarines. There was also a paradoxical flowering of culture! Suffice it to recall that in 1979 the films “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears”, “The Same Munchausen”, “Autumn Marathon”, “The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed”, “Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson”, “Stalker” were released.
Such a strange time of disappointments, successes and hopes. A schizophrenic time. Politicians say one thing and do another. They talk about peace and détente, and at the same time start a war in Afghanistan six months before the Olympics. And all these fears, doubts and optimism became part of the large-scale work of Petr Belenok — the creator of the unique concept of “panic realism”.
ZVEREV Anatoly Timofeevich (1931–1986) Forest landscape. 1971. Hardboard, oil. 66 × 57
Forest landscapes are one of the most sought-after themes in the work of Anatoly Zverev. Collectors and the public loved his pine trees painted in Sokolniki, on Nikolina Gora and elsewhere. Connoisseurs, who had seen this work before the auction, noted that it was “very Zverev-like” and very inspired. So it was when Zverev found comfort and tranquility somewhere in the dacha at friends. His mood returned to him, and the artist gladly took up the brush — for the soul. The authenticity of the painting was confirmed by the expertise of Valery Silaev.
NEMUKHIN Vladimir Nikolaevich (1925–2016) Two aces. Sketch of a plate. 1992. Cardboard, acrylic, collage. Diameter 44 cm
The circular shape of this painting is not accidental. According to Nemukhin's plan, this composition was to be embodied in porcelain, in the form of a plate. The work is very harmonious and expressive. Was it actually embodied in porcelain? We were told that the porcelain plate was painted, but in a single pre-production copy. Nemukhin practiced this. However, we have not seen this particular plate in person — we can't claim for sure. The only thing we know for sure is that it was not put into mass production. And this concept of Nemukhin was fixed only in the form of a sketch.
Vladimir Nemukhin is among the key figures of post-war unofficial art. The artist was a member of the Lianozovo group, participated in the Bulldozer exhibition, headed the “twenty” in the city committee of graphic artists on Malaya Gruzinskaya.
ROGINSKY Mikhail Alexandrovich (1931–2004) Bouquet. 2003. Oil on canvas. 50 × 30
Mikhail Roginsky was a 1960s artist, the developer of a kind of “Russian pop-art” which the artist himself called “documentary art”. In depicting the surrounding reality, Roginsky was sharp, concise and critical. Sometimes to the point of obscenity. So this time the collectors are lucky with the plot. Given that the dark bouquet on a dark background — this is just a very typical decision for his later works. During the last years of his life Roginsky worked in France. But he remained a very Russian artist. With such “Dostoyevsky” in his painting. Roginsky is a conceptual, rare and expensive artist. It is important that this painting participated in the exhibition “The Apology of Delusion” at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art in 2018 and was published in the catalog.
SHELKOVSKY Igor Sergeevich (1937) In the dance. 2013. Wood (relief), paint. 61 × 81
Igor Shelkovsky was an artist of the sixties, a representative of conceptualism, and the publisher of the famous art magazine “A-Ya”, which had been published in France since 1979.
The work is important, somewhat prophetic. Two symbols of cannibalistic totalitarian systems merge in a dance. The hidden meaning is that the defeated demons of terrible times do not resign themselves to their defeat and are ready to raise their heads again at the first opportunity. All it takes is weakness.
The work participated in the exhibition “The Apology of Delusion” at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art in 2018 and was published in the catalog.
SOKOV Leonid Petrovich (1941–2018) Stalin and Monroe. 2015. Plywood, paint, cardboard, multiple. 90 × 70
Stalin and Monroe again. A development of the blockbuster theme by Leonid Sokov, a 1960s artist, a representative of Sots-art. Last time the circulation sheet, where the beauty drinks with the monster, was sold with fantastic success. Collectors staged a real battle. This time the multiple is not on paper, but in the form of plywood relief. And a much smaller edition. Not 99, just 16 copies. A spectacular piece. An important absurdist story from the master of postmodern irony.
1970s UNOFFICIAL ART
SHABLAVIN Sergey Petrovich (1944) Space. From the series “The Birth of the Circle”. Islands in the Ocean. 2019. Oil on canvas. 90 × 90
In front of us is the main theme of the Moscow conceptualist — the formula of the landscape of Sergey Shablavin. The artist has been faithful to this idea since the 1970s. His first exhibition was held in 1976 in the studio of Leonid Sokov. Of course, it was a semi-underground “apartment” exhibition for people close to them. Later Shablavin began to exhibit in the city committee on Malaya Gruzinskaya. Many agree that the former cybernetics graduate's paintings are close to the conceptual explorations of Bulatov and Vasiliev. Shablavin's paintings were in the collection of Costakis, you can see them in the Tretyakov Gallery and in the Zimmerli Museum in the collection of Norton Dodge.
SNEGUR Igor Grigorievich (1935) Transits. 1990. Acrylic on canvas. 80 × 100
Igor Snegur, the legendary artist of the Gorkom “twenty”, came to art through the studio “New Reality” of Ely Bielutin. He came to the maestro, who developed in his students an intuitive approach to painting, as a very young man, immediately after serving in the Navy. Together with Bielutin's students, the artist participated in the Taganskaya exhibition and the scandalous Manege-1962. In 1976, Snegur became one of the leaders of the group “Twenty Moscow Artists”, which exhibited its works at Malaya Gruzinskaya. The exhibitions were stigmatized by the Soviet press. The Soviet Culture newspaper, for example, called Snegur's work “an aestheticization of vulgarity” and “anti-artistic rubbish, appealing to an undeveloped, undemanding taste”.
Time has put everything in its place. The works of many honored socialist realists are hardly recognizable to most of us. And Snegur's paintings are, in fact, already an important part of the history of post-war unofficial art.
FONVIZIN Artur Vladimirovich (1882–1973) Katyusha. 1940s–1950s Paper, watercolor. 21.5 × 16
Fonvizin is one of the famous “three Fs”: Favorsky, Falk, Fonvizin. These artists of the generation of the first Russian avant-garde were considered the forerunners of the second avant-garde, the non-conformist art of the Thaw. They did not issue proclamations or openly struggle with the authorities. They were called representatives of the “quiet art”. But it is difficult to overestimate their importance for the culture of unofficial post-war art. For young independent artists, they were moral authorities who did not make a deal with the hypocritical socialist realism. Fonvizin was bought by Costakis. One of the walls in his apartment was hung with wet watercolors of the master. It was there, by the way, that Zverev saw them for the first time, was impressed, and a number of his works of the 1960s were done in the manner of Fonvizin. Expert Valery Silaev determined that the watercolor “Katyusha” belongs to the famous Fonvizin cycle “Songs and Romances”, a kind of reminiscences of childhood and youth. The watercolor may have museum value.
OSTASHOV Andrey Alekseevich (1970) The eighth. Lucky. From the series “Seven Samurai”. 2016. Patinated bronze, granite base. Height 31 cm
Remember the fate of the seven samurai? Four were killed in action. And this is the eighth — nicknamed Lucky. Strange and mystical, like the 34th bogatyr. The masterful, spectacular circulation bronze by the sculptor Andrey Ostashov has long been beloved by collectors in Asia and Europe. The artist actively exhibits, his works gradually disperse to important collections. The sculpture is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity dated September 4, 2021, signed by the author. The work is packed in a branded wooden box.