RABIN Oscar Yakovlevich (1928–2018) Careless still life. 1963. Oil on canvas. 90 × 70
This particular painting was among the first batch of specially selected works, which was taken out by the English art dealer Eric Estorick to arrange the first personal exhibition of Oscar Rabin in London at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1965. Andropov reported to the CPSU Central Committee about the sale of these paintings. And it was with these paintings that Rabin ran into serious trouble in the Soviet Union. The artist himself, of course, was not at the vernissage. He did not even believe to the very end that such an exhibition would take place. On the opening day, he and his wife Valentina threw a small party in the barracks. As Rabin himself later recalled: “We also arranged a vernissage for ourselves. Together with Valya, we took pictures of the paintings sold to Estorick — crappy, amateur photos — spread them out on the floor and, walking around the room, imagined that we were in Grosvenor Gallery in London”.
The catalog of Rabin's first exhibition was a modest brochure with only the cover printed in color. Who could have imagined then that a historical event was unfolding. Inside were just a few black and white reproductions of several paintings, an introductory article and a list of works in the exhibition. Ours is also among them, at number 44. So we're not just looking at a pictorial masterpiece, but a real artifact of the history of unofficial art.
ZVEREV Anatoly Timofeevich (1931–1986) Portrait of Raya Esina. 1970s. Hardboard, oil, scratching. 76 × 54
Zverev of museum significance! Both in letter (as stated in the examination) and in real effect. You should have seen how many connoisseurs had time to gasp when they saw this work in our office. It is felt here that, unlike rapid improvisational works, Zverev, as they say, took his time. He worked up a sweat. The nature of the inspiration is clear. Zverev wasn't writing an outsider, but Raya Esina, the wife of his friend Yuri Esin.
Esin worked at the Tretyakov Gallery. He was an art historian, bibliophile, collector, and owner of a large collection of Zverev. He and Zverev were on good friendly terms. It is interesting that one day Esin obtained some blank canvases of Arapov, the artist from “Blue Rose” and “World of Art”. And he gave these canvases to Zverev, who painted stunning works on them. The high quality of Raya Esina's portrait can also be explained by the fact that Esin thoroughly prepared for the artist's arrival — he bought good paints for him. And this additionally inspired the artist.
1960s UNOFFICIAL ART
KUPER Yuri Leonidovich (1940) A field. 2000s. Canvas, mixed media. 100 × 120
One of the best Kupers we've been lucky enough to sell. Museum size. Meter twenty. Signature sfumato, air glow and spikelets in the field in the morning fog. Stunningly beautiful work! Quiet. Calm. Meditative.
Yuri Kuper is a member of the sixties, a representative of unofficial art. He emigrated from the USSR in 1972, the first wave. But then he was not yet a sfumato poet. Kuper was influenced by surrealism in the early seventies. And already abroad, at the suggestion of photographer John Stewart, he found his signature style and theme. The photographer suggested that a subtle artist does not need to invent anything artificial. After all, there is nothing more beautiful than the world around us and the noble aesthetic of ordinary objects around us.
VULOKH Igor Alexandrovich (1938–2012) Winter. 1969. Wood, canvas, tempera. 76 × 100
A one-meter Vulokh from 1969! How many of these have we seen! In the catalog where this painting is printed, it appears to be completely white. Only the conditional horizon line separates the snow drifts from the winter morning sky. But if you turn on the light a little brighter, you're in for a revelation. In fact, the top and bottom are different colors. The artist added a slight blue tone to the sky, and the effect is stunning. For those judging by the photo, additionally take into account that the work is also embossed and textured. Very beautiful. By the way, the catalog, where it is published, will be a gift to the buyer.
BORUCH (Steinberg Boris Arkadyevich, 1938–2003) Evil egg. 1988. Wood, metal, mixed media. 75 × 50 × 10
Boruch Steinberg is one of the prominent representatives of unofficial art, the brother of the artist Eduard Steinberg. “Evil Egg” is a characteristic, recognizable relief, which to an outsider would seem abstract. The egg is a symbol of the beginning, everyone knows that. What else is there? We were lucky. The artist's widow Tatyana Levitskaya pointed out additional details that change the interpretation of this entire composition. This is not an abstraction, but a thing with a story. In front of us is the biblical story of Cain and Abel. The participants and elements of the landscape in the painting are encoded by Boruch in primary symbols. Above right is the sign of the Lord, below right is the man Cain. The sign of the tree and the sign of the earth can also be found there. The scene is depicted when the wickedness has already been done and the Lord asks Cain, “Where is Abel, thy brother?” And the latter answers, “I don’t know. Am I my brother's keeper?” So “Evil Egg” is a philosophical work, a reflection on the origin of dark natures.
Candlestick and book from the workshop of KRASNOPEVTSEV Dmitry Mikhailovich (1925–1995)
Genuine items from the studio of the artist D. M. Krasnopevtsev, which were used to compose still life compositions. Came from the family of the artist's heirs.
Candlestick. Metal. Diameter 14 cm. Height 7 cm. This candlestick is depicted, in particular, in the painting “Books and Candle in a Bent Candlestick” (1971). Publication: “Dmitry Mikhailovich Krasnopevtsev. Paintings. Catalog”. Compiled by: Alexander Ushakov / Moscow: Bonfi, 2007. Photo on page 82.
Book: Walter Pater. “Renaissance. Essays on Art and Poetry” / Moscow: publishing house “Problems of Aesthetics”, 1912. On the first page in red ink — monogram and initials of the artist: D M K.
VOLOSHIN Maximilian Alexandrovich (1877–1932) Moonlit night. The sea off the coast of Koktebel. 1929. Watercolor on paper. 17.5 × 23 (in light)
Voloshin's watercolors of this color range are a rarity in the art market. Usually his Cimmerian landscapes are brown. And here — a blue palette, the night moon track. Who has seen the nights in the Crimea — an unforgettable beauty.
Voloshin is a legend of the Silver Age. A poet, a bully, a duelist. To a certain extent, he was forced to take up his brush by the boycott of book publishers and sellers. The newspapers began to harass Voloshin, allegedly for insulting Repin. The poet was blamed for the fact that Voloshin stood up for Abram Balashov, who cut up the painting “Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan”. But his forced escape from society resulted in hundreds of inspired watercolors. Most of them were painted not from life, but in the study, from memory. The compact postcard format is no accident. Voloshin was an advocate of the democratization of art. He wanted the works of artists to be affordable not only by the rich people living in palaces, but also by the ordinary inhabitants of modest dwellings.
SMIRNOV-RUSETSKY Boris Alekseevich (1905–1993) Shchuchye Lake in winter. 1955. Oil on canvas. 45 × 70.3
Shchuchye Lake is now a state nature reserve near Komarovo near St. Petersburg. A place of fabulous beauty. And if you feel the spirit of Roerich in this picture — you are not mistaken. It was Roerich who had a great influence on the Russian cosmist Boris Smirnov-Rusetsky (Rusetsky is a pseudonym). The artist became acquainted with the founder of the philosophical doctrine of “Living Ethics” in 1926. And in 1941 he received ten years in the camps for “association with the Russian emigrant N. K. Roerich” and “anti-Soviet propaganda”. Perhaps the real reason was the fact that the artist by that time held several exhibitions abroad, including in the United States. Smirnov-Rusetsky survived and was rehabilitated in 1956. He continued to communicate with Svyatoslav Roerich, and in the times of the late USSR he headed the Moscow Roerich Society.
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