SITNIKOV Vasily Yakovlevich (1915 –1987) Nude. 1975. Oil on canvas. 100 × 60

The works of “Vasya the Lanternman” — Vasil Yaklich — Vasily Yakovlevich Sitnikov are a rarity at auction. And so characteristic of his nude — a rarity and even more so. That's exactly the kind of Sitnikov collectors are after.

Vasily Sitnikov is in the top of the most expensive 1960s artists. His auction record is $ 627,000. The artist emigrated in 1975 and died in the United States in 1987. That is, in front of us is a painting made in the year of departure from the USSR.

Sitnikov, as it is commonly said, is a legend of the 1960s. A self-taught man who went through hell in prison and a mental hospital. No formal education. Only books, museums, lectures at the Surikov Institute (there he showed slides on a projector — hence the “lanternman”). But in any case, Sitnikov not only created his own artistic theory (“there is no line, only a foreground”), but also taught underground, gathered around himself dozens of students, among whom were Alena Kirtsova, Vladimir Titov. There is evidence that at one time Sitnikov also taught the famous Vladimir Yakovlev.

But the public remembered Vasil Yaklich primarily as a performance artist. Sitnikov turned his work on paintings into a performance. He used floor brushes, some mops — as if to make it clear that the fate and success of the picture did not depend on creative conditions. It would be a desire. And indeed, in front of an amazed audience were born masterpieces. Sitnikov generously passed experience. His students imitated him. He often corrected their works. Therefore, when it comes to determining authenticity experts have to rely not only on stylistics, but also on provenance. In our case, fortunately, the provenance has been preserved. Even the name of the model is known. The authenticity of the work is confirmed by the expert opinion of Valery Silaev. In the paper, Valery Stanislavovich notes the museum significance of the painting.

NEMUKHIN Vladimir Nikolaevich (1925–2016) Drawing with a card (Figure). 2006. Paper, acrylic, mixed technique. 79 × 59.5

This is not just a spectacular piece, but a historical work, with which Vladimir Nemukhin's big circulation period began. In seven years, these drawn strokes-“slits” will turn into real slits, and the series “Figure” (as it was called in the circulation) will be scattered throughout collections.

The history of the cycle's original work deserves a separate story. The drawing with a female figure was made at the request of a renowned nudes collector. The artist agreed. Took it. And then months went by, but the painting was still not written. The collector had already begun to worry. And then the picture appeared. Delight! But then something unexpected happened: Nemuhin suddenly refused to sell this work. Why — no longer know. He did not want to part with it. Collector, of course, was upset. But what can you do if the author changed his mind. Today the plot “Figure” is one of the most beloved by art connoisseurs. It is known for the circulation series made on the basis of this painting. Inspired by the success of the first print run, Nemukhin gave the go-ahead for the creation of several more series of prints — “Jack of Chagall”, “Jack of Mayakovsky” and others.

So once again: what we have before us today is not just an inspired graphic, but a thing of history, an exceptional piece, a turning point. Something that started a lot of things. The ultimate collector's grade.




MAMYSHEV-MONROE Vladislav Yurievich (1969–2013) L. P. Orlova talks to sailor Ivanko after a creative meeting with sailors of the legendary cruiser “Aurora” during the 1937 Leningrad tour. 2000. Photography. 101 × 101

Mamyshev began his creative reincarnations with images of Marilyn Monroe, so this name stuck as a pseudonym. And if he started with Orlova, we would know the artist not as Mamyshev-Monroe, but as Mamyshev-Orlova. It's quite possible. After all, the image of the Soviet style icon, the “Russian Marlene Dietrich”, became one of the most inspired in the reincarnations of Vladislav Mamyshev.

But by modern standards, Orlova did not have a model appearance. She was not 175 cm tall, but only 158 cm.  But the waist was 43 cm, blonde hair, curls, stylish clothes, gracefulness, a mystery. In the late 1930s, Orlova was idolized. She was imitated. She was copied. It came to psychiatry. Doctors diagnosed some Soviet women with “Orlova syndrome” — they bleached their hair, sewed screen clothes, and eventually began to introduce themselves to others using the actress' name.

Many were crazy about her. There is a version that Stalin not only loved Orlova as an actress, but was, like a man, not indifferent to Lyubov Petrovna. A Kremlin telephone was installed in the actress’ apartment, Stalin called, congratulated with successes, long talked. And he also fulfilled her requests and took part in the fate of the actress. Orlova had such a strong influence on the leader that Beria himself was jealous of her and waited for an opportunity to destroy both her and Alexandrov. But “enamoured” Stalin brought her a lot of grief. Orlova's first husband, the deputy head of the People's Commissariat of Agriculture Berzin, was repressed in 1930 and exiled to the camps. Since the night of his arrest Orlova was panically afraid to be alone in the dark. Orlova, like everyone else, did not know about the fate of her husband. And then one day at a reception in the Kremlin after the success of “Merry Fellows” Stalin said: “Ask anything you want!” And what did Orlova ask? Only one thing — to inform her about the fate of her arrested husband Andrey Berzin. Stalin was surprised, but he kept his promise. Orlova was soon invited to the Lubyanka and informed that Berzin was alive and being held in the camp. He was not shot even after his second arrest in 1938, and perhaps Orlova was credited for that.

In general, Orlova was not a woman of timid breed. She performed dangerous stunts, went into fire and into water herself. In “Merry Fellows” she instead of Utesov (he refused) jumped on a bull, was crippled, spent a month in the hospital. Another incident happened on the set of “Circus”. According to the script, she was supposed to sing while sitting on a cannon. She sat down, sang as if nothing had happened. And she was immediately taken to the hospital with burns — the cannon was heated from the heat of the spotlight, and Orlova endured the pain so as not to spoil the take.

But fame is a burden. When some people idolize, others demonize. Her reputation as a favorite of the hated Stalin once nearly ruined the actress. In 1952 an assassination attempt was organized against her in Ukraine. After a concert, an unknown “admirer” gave her a bouquet of roses with poisoned thorns. Sepsis broke out, Stalin gathered the best doctors, a plane was sent to England for the luminary of science. There were several blood transfusions — they miraculously saved her.

Orlova fanatically cared about her appearance until old age. All her life on diets. All her life at the ballet bar. It is believed that Orlova was one of the first in the Soviet Union to make a surgical facelift. Charlie Chaplin, with whom she was friends and with whom she visited more than once, helped her arrange secret cosmetic procedures.

Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe is a cult figure of the 1990s. Back in the mid-1980s, he belonged to Timur Novikov's circle, and did “Pirate Television” with Sergey Kuryokhin. His reincarnations as Chaplin, Monroe, Putin, Osama bin Laden are an artistic performance technique. Where the painter uses canvas and paint, Mamyshev used his appearance and photo documentation.

The present work appeared as part of the project «Happy Love» in 2000. Mamyshev that time made a whole science-fiction cycle about the life and death of the national idol. From the dawn of her career to the sunset of her life. The work is signed. This is not always the case, and it is fortunate for the collector, that on the back there is a full author's name and a touching signature “Vladik Monroe”. The artist died in Bali in 2013 — he drowned in a pool. He was 43 years old.

VOLIGAMSI Rinat (1968) A conversation on the impossibility of cloning in conditions... 2005. Oil on canvas, thread. 60 × 80

The work has everything that Voligamsi is particularly appreciated for: absurdist technique, subtle aesthetics, a modernist move and a philosophical mystery. What are two identical cups talking about? The impossibility of cloning? Well, what else could they be talking about?

The work was painted in 2005. What happened in 2005? It was a hot time in cloning. In 2005, the first cloned dog was born, an Afghan greyhound, named Snuppy after Seoul National University (SNU), whose team successfully conducted the experiment. Snuppy lived for ten years. And in the same year, 2005, the UN adopted a resolution banning human cloning. And in Russia, human cell cloning experiments were banned completely and indefinitely. Or what they call “indefinitely”.

Recall that Rinat Voligamsi is a star of Russian contemporary art of the 2000s, a collectors' favorite, a Kandinsky Prize nominee. His works have already been presented in the Russian Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.


SNEGUR Igor Grigorievich (1935) Liberation from the bonds. 2016. Oil on canvas. 120 × 100

Igor Snegur began his career in art with the “New Reality” studio of Ely Bielutin. He joined the studio immediately after the army, after four years in the Navy. Recall that Bielutin's studio members included Boris Zhutovsky, Natta Konysheva, Vladislav Zubarev and others. It was a unique moment. This was the Khrushchev Thaw. Instead of socialist realist intellectual drudgery, it was the free method, expression. Instead of four walls — steamboats, creative trips in the company of female employees of the model house. Then in his life there was the Taganskaya exhibition, followed by the Manege of 1962, at which Khrushchev defeated the Bielutin’s and other invited “abstractists”.

Snegur, like most strong artists, eventually left Bielutin — it was necessary to get out of the shadow of the authoritarian maestro. Soon came the times of the City Committee on Malaya Gruzinskaya. After the Bulldozer Exhibition scandal in 1974, the authorities agreed to create a “reservation” for independent art. In the City Committee Snegur created the “Twenty” — a group of “20 Moscow artists”. It was not formed on the principle of belonging to one style or genre. It included different artists. The composition changed. At various times, Alexander Kharitonov, Semen Faibisovich, Evgeny Izmailov, Petr Belenok, Konstantin Khudyakov, Vyacheslav Kalinin, Sergey Simakov exhibited under the banner of “Twenty”.

Cultural officials and socialist realists were very jealous of the success of the basement exhibitions in the City Committee. Why are people queuing at Malaya Gruzinskaya? What do they want there? “Soviet Culture” wrote about Snegur's exhibitions without hesitation in expressions: “... the main thing here is the aestheticization of vulgarity, anti-artistic mass consumption, appealing to the undeveloped and undemanding taste. ... It is these ailments that the works of I. Snegur suffer, in which the amorphousness of the image acts as the reverse side of professional helplessness”. However, if “Soviet Culture” praised it, then there would be a reason to think. And if it scolds — well, in the mouth of the official art critics such hatred is praise.

Soviet newspapers wrote in roughly the same way about the legendary exhibition at the Beekeeping Pavilion at the VDNKh in 1975 with Nemukhin, Krasnopevtsev, Plavinsky, Snegur and other first names of unofficial art. “Vechernyaya Moskva” responded to the kilometer-long queue with a feuilleton entitled «Vanguard of philistinism» which concluded that “most of the works are but a slavish repetition of those discoveries or experiments of the formal order that have been in Russian and European art over the past 75–80 years”.

The painting “Liberation from the bonds” presented at the auction is a participant in Snegur's retrospective exhibition “Endless Journey”, which was held in 2017 at the Academy of Arts. Before us is a large, important work of museum significance.

ROMADIN Mikhail Nikolaevich (1940–2012) Absorbing sheet. Triptych. 1991–1992. Canvas, oil. 50 × 100 (each part)

Let me start from afar. Remember the compartments of Solaris Station in Tarkovsky's film? Quite the kind of space interiors that could use a cleaning long ago. But it could have been completely different. Artist Mikhail Romadin and director Andrei Tarkovsky were determined to decorate the compartments of Chris Kelvin and his colleagues, first in the style of a Russian hut with the texture of logs on the walls. Then in the style of a Moscow intellectual's apartment with bookshelves. But in the end, the conservative version, closest to the literary basis, won out.

Mikhail Romadin is a Thaw artist who worked not only with Andrei Tarkovsky, but also with Andron Konchalovsky and Gennady Shpalikov. He is the son of Stalin Prize-winning artist Nikolai Romadin. But contrary to his father's will, he chose a different path — in the opposite direction from the nourishing socialist realism. Mikhail Romadin graduated from VGIK, and after graduation worked at the theater with Pluchek. Then in cinema — with Andron Konchalovsky on the films “The First Teacher”, “A Nest of Gentry”, “The Story of Asya Klyachina”. At the end of the 1970s, Romadin made sketches for an unfinished film by Gennady Shpalikov based on Tonino Guerra's book “Lion with a White Beard”.

Mikhail Romadin has a very recognizable style, with elaborate details, sometimes with a convex perspective, like a fisheye lens. Ilya Kabakov compared his style to “bubbling in a test tube”. And Romadin's subjectivity has also been called “textural greed”. This and that are apt. And all of this is in our conceptual triptych. It's a narrative thing. Three stages of dissolution? Or maybe three ages? Or maybe a metaphor for the triumph of the object world? Or maybe there's a literary basis for the story? We don't know yet. In any case, a mystery in three parts is guaranteed for the future owner.

NEY Alexander (1939) Head. 2009. Terracotta. Height: 33.5 cm. Width: 37 cm

Ney's exemplary patterned terracotta. Magistral theme. Large size. The undoubted jewel of the collection.

Ney (then still Nezhdanov) started in Leningrad. After graduating from the sculpture faculty of the Repin Institute, he worked as a restorer at the Hermitage, made decorations for Lenfilm — in particular, he was busy working on Kozintsev's masterpiece “King Lear”.

In 1972, the artist emigrated. In the United States, he worked with the Nakhamkin and Mimi Ferzt galleries. Alexander Ney's return to Russia began in the 2010s with exhibitions at the State Center for Contemporary Art, the Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts, and others. There, many saw his paintings, graphics and papier-mâché sculptures for the first time. But his most recognizable things are, of course, his “patterned” terracotta sculptures. They cannot be confused with anything, even from a hundred meters away. They appear to be light and hollow on the inside. But they are not. The effect of lightness is achieved by a special technique of working with texture. Ney makes deep holes in the clay with different tools. But these sculptures are monolithic on the inside, and so they are quite weighty. The work is very beautiful, mounted on a wooden stand. Completely ready for a collection. Bring it and put it on a shelf! And it looks so spectacular that there is simply nothing to add.

BELENOK Petr Ivanovich (1938–1991) Black whirlwind. 1982. Paper on hardboard, ink, collage. 21 × 29.5

The work is comfortable. Belenok's energy is so powerful that his paintings seem to shout: “Spread out!” That's why it's not easy to find neighbors in the interior for his large works. And here the size allows you to fit even in a room where there are already many paintings. It's a stroke of luck! On the one hand, one hundred percent recognizable Belenok, “panic realism”, the right plot. And on the other hand — a compact, convenient size. In short, an excellent purchase for an already established collection!