Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale is pleased to announce its latest exhibition, Erosion: Works by Leonard Ursachi on view from July 15–November 18, 2018. In this exhibition featuring an outdoor sculpture, installation work, and related maquettes and drawings, Leonard Ursachi addresses themes of environmental and social crises caused by manmade events and reflects on how the destruction of natural resources is intimately interconnected with the effacement of human history and culture. What a Wonderful World (2018), a large-scale sculpture installed in Hebrew Home’s sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades, touches on the inextricable link between profitability and the destruction of the environment. Expanses of 23-karat gold leaf applied to the roughly textured, “tarred” oceans reference a global, often wealth-driven disregard for the impact of environmental choices. The continents, on the other hand, appear vast and devoid of life, signifying a stripping away of natural resources. Still, Ursachi’s vision implies hope: the sculpture’s egg shape may be read as the enduring, if fragile, potential for life.
Also included in the exhibition is Rise and Shine (2010), a multi-media work that addresses the disappearance of the Romanian island of Ada Kaleh, which was submerged in the Danube River in 1970 by Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in order to build a hydroelectric plant. Inside an aquarium-like receptacle, a model of the island cast from translucent urethane resin is lit from below, alternately drowned and resuscitated as water continuously rises and falls. The work addresses the disastrous effect such industrial projects have on human culture, displacing entire populations and literally washing away layers of history. The piece engages environmental themes and reflects the unchecked destruction that can occur under tyranny. Ceaușescu’s rule was one of the most brutal in the Eastern Bloc, with his secret police force routinely torturing and imprisoning suspected dissenters and political enemies. Ursachi was arrested for attempting to escape Romania by swimming across the Danube—near the spot where Ada Kaleh once stood—to reach Yugoslavia in 1978. His second attempt to defect, in 1980, was successful, and he was granted political asylum in France where he spent five years. He came to the United States via Canada and settled in New York in 1987.
New Brunswick, NJ – With such rapid advances in digital tools, we sometimes find ourselves lamenting about artists who were ahead of their time, guessing what Leonardo could have done with a jet engine or Warhol, with Instagram. Regarding Soviet nonconformist artist Leonid Lamm (1928–2017), however, we do not have to wonder. With a career spanning 70 years, technology caught up to his artistic vision and he became one of the most surprising and versatile artists in the history of Soviet nonconformist and contemporary Russian-American art. Nevermore: Leonid Lamm, Selected Works, on view through September 30 at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, examines his prolific career, which was stimulated by a lifelong inquiry into the multidimensional energy of space. More than 60 works on view represent three key periods: his early decades in the Soviet Union, the period following his move to the United States in the 1980s, and his incorporation of digital formats in more recent years. Free, public events that spotlight the exhibition include an evening reception on March 9 and Art After Hours: First Tuesdays on June 5. Details are available at www.zimmerlimuseum.rutgers.edu.
Hot Art in a Cold War: Intersections of Art and Science in the Soviet Era
January 27, 2018 - May 20, 2018
Opening on January 27, 2018, the Bruce Museum’s provocative new exhibition Hot Art in a Cold War: Intersections of Art and Science in the Soviet Era examines one of the dominant concerns of Soviet unofficial artists—and citizens everywhere—during the Cold War: the consequences of innovation in science, technology, mathematics, communications, and design. Juxtaposing art made in opposition to state-sanctioned Socialist Realism with artifacts from the Soviet nuclear and space programs, Hot Art in a Cold War touches upon the triumphs and tragedies unleashed as humankind gained the power to both leave the Earth and to destroy it.
Produced from the 1960s to the 1980s, the works on view address themes of international significance during a turbulent period marked by the ever-escalating competition for nuclear supremacy and the space race. Creative interpretations of these key historical events and their repercussions are presented here through nearly 40 works by 17 artists from the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, and Russia.
In Edenia, a City of the Future June 8 – July 9, 2017 Opening: June 8, 18.00
In Edenia, a City of the Future is an art exhibition inspired by a Yiddish language utopian novella of the same name, published by Kalman Zingman in Kharkiv in 1918. Nearly one hundred years later, artist Yevgeniy Fiks invited an international group of contemporary artists to read the novella and create an artwork as if from the museum of the imaginary city of Edenia. The exhibition presents the artists’ different visions as an invitation to look at our dreams from various angles, to take note of their colors, intonations, forms and rhythms.
Zingman’s Edenia (a projection of Kharkiv 25 years into the future) is serviced by “aerotrains” and fountains that keep the temperature at a comfortable level yearround; it is a place where ethnic communities live side-by-side in peace and harmony. The protagonist of the story, returned to his native city from Palestine, makes a stop in the art museum: “He … looked at the figure sculptures of Kritsenshteyn, Lisitski and Roza Fayngold, then he went to the top level. The door closed behind him, and he looked for a very long time, thought for a long time, and got lost in his ruminations.”
At a time when many Ukrainians are divided in their respective idealizations of the Soviet past as a golden era of social justice or the European Union as the promise of a future utopia, “In Edenia, a City of the Future” (based on a novella written in a language that has practically disappeared from Ukraine) invites the public to examine the country’s multicultural history and its early Soviet dreams/nightmares in light of present-day political challenges and potentialities. We urge visitors to think critically about the appeal and comfort of a utopian dream, while simultaneously remembering past actions taken in the name of making an ideal image of society a reality. How many of these dreams and arguments are we still repeating today?
At the same time, we acknowledge the utopian nature of the very project of 21stcentury contemporary art, where visibility (as revelation) has come to replace the visionary projects of the past.
Curators: Larissa Babij (Ukraine / US) and Yevgeniy Fiks (US / Russia)
Participating Artists: Ifeoma Anyaeji (Nigeria) Babi Badalov (France / Azerbaijan) Concrete Dates Collective (Ukraine) Curandi Katz (Italy / Canada) Sasha Dedos (Ukraine) Aikaterini Gegisian (UK / Greece) Tatiana Grigorenko (US / France) Creolex centr (Ruthie Jenrbekova & Maria Vilkovisky) (Kazakhstan) Nikita Kadan (Ukraine) Kapwani Kiwanga (Canada / France) Yuri Leiderman (Ukraine / Germany) Mykola Ridnyi (Ukraine) Haim Sokol (Russia / Israel) Agnès Thurnauer (France / Switzerland) Exhibition designer: Ivan Melnychuk (Ukraine) Publishing partner: STAB (School of Theory and Activism – Bishkek) (Kyrgyzstan) Supported by Asylum Arts Special thanks to Dr. Gennadiy Estraikh
Open Tuesday–Sunday, 12.00 – 20.00 Yermilov Center Svobody Square, 4 Kharkiv, Ukraine Tel: +380 95 801 30 83, +380 57 760 47 13 www.yermilovcentre.org
The exhibition will involve several public events, including guided tours with the exhibition curators, meetings with participating artists, and a talk with American historian Mayhill C. Fowler, a scholar of the multi-ethnic history of the early Ukrainian SSR and author of “Beau Monde on Empire’s Edge : State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine.” Please check www.yermilovcentre.org for details.
About the curators: Yevgeniy Fiks is a Russian-American artist, who has been living and working in New York since 1994. His artistic practice, which includes making artworks, exhibitions, books, often seeks out and explores repressed micro-historical narratives that highlight the complex relationships between social histories of the West and the Soviet bloc in the 20th century. To learn more, please see http://yevgeniyfiks.com/
Larissa Babij grew up in the USA and has been living and working in Kyiv as an independent curator, writer and translator since 2005. Her work focuses on the representation of Ukrainian contemporary artists in the English-speaking world, organizing contemporary art projects (usually in collaboration with artists) in Ukraine, and critical discussion of current cultural conditions.
DISTINGUISHED LECTURE AND RECEPTION
The Trees Elude Us: Russian / Soviet Modernity and What Happens with Nature
Dr. Jane Coslow, Clark A. Griffith Professor of Environmental Studies at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine Thursday, April 20 / 4:30 to 6:30 pm Free and open to the public
The Trees Elude Us explores some of the ways in which Russian artists and writers have responded to modernity and its impacts on the natural world – and on human relations to the more-than-human. Cognizant of what Varlam Shalamov called “the hurried, predatory leap” of Soviet modernization, Dr. Costlow offers some reflections on how creative imagination has worked as witness, celebrant and fierce protectress of a nature that is always more than mere resource for human needs.
This program is offered in conjunction with A Vibrant Field: Nature and Landscape in Soviet Nonconformist Art, 1970s-1980s.
A reception follows the lecture.
71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ.
A Vibrant Field: Nature and Landscape in Soviet Nonconformist Art, 1960s-1980s is the first exhibition at the Zimmerli Art Museum to explore the wide range of meanings that the natural world held for unofficial artists in the Soviet Union. Drawn from the strengths of the Dodge Collection, the exhibition brings together works produced in the period between thaw and perestroika that challenged the link between nature, optimism, and progress, which socialist realist aesthetics had promoted. Approximately fifty objects across media are featured, including painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, and performance, by more than twenty-five artists and artist groups from the Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, and Ukraine. Despite the artists’ diverse backgrounds and creative approaches, together their works establish nature as a vibrant subject matter, push the boundaries of landscape as a genre, and limit the appropriation of landscape imagery in the name of socialist ideology. In turn, the status of nature in late socialism, and one’s individual or collective place within it, is explored as an open–and vital–question.
A Vibrant Field assembles varied perspectives, vantage points, and orientations that underlie how one experiences nature, both in the physical sense of navigating nature as a real environment and in the conceptual sense of coming to know, describe, represent, or assign it with symbolic value. The exhibition is mapped along three principle zones of inquiry. The first, Visions, draws together work that takes to task the process of visualizing spaces in nature in order to elucidate, reimagine, or critique how humans relate to or inhabit them. In this section, particular attention is paid to works that highlight ecological concerns resulting from the exploitation of natural resources and rapid pursuit of industrialization in the Soviet Union. In Reflections, artists place less emphasis on the material landscapes in nature than on how they become a picture and the role of artistic convention, memory, and ideology in mediating this process. Finally, Encounters considers the emergence of land art and performance-based practices in nature in the 1970s and 1980s that provided a freer alternative to urban communality, ritual, and public space in the Soviet Union. Through their direct encounters with the land, artists in this section approach nature not only as a subject matter or a backdrop to their work, but in some cases as an actor or co-producer.
Organized by Anna Rogulina, a Dodge-Lawrence Fellow at the Zimmerli and Ph.D. student in the Department of Art History at Rutgers
The exhibition and brochure are made possible by the Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund, The Thickman Family Foundation, and the Dodge Charitable Trust – Nancy Ruyle Dodge, Trustee.
Wednesday, March 29 / Tour, Film, and Reception 4:30pm: Tour of A Vibrant Field by the exhibition curator, Anna Rogulina 5:30pm: Screening of the 2015 award-winning documentary film Babushkas of Chernobyl.
Thursday, April 20 / Distinguished Lecture and Reception 4:30-6:30pm: Dr. Jane Costlow, Clark A. Griffith Professor of Environmental Studies at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, explores the subject of nature imaginaries in Soviet literature and visual culture.
A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde; curated by Roxana Marcoci and Sarah Suzuki with Hillary Reder; Museum of Modern Art, NYC, through March 12
Review by Roann Barris, Radford University
One might be excused for thinking that the entry sign to the exhibition is one of the art works in the show. The assertive, sans serif lettering, which increases in scale, and the angled parallelogram with a circle at its end, speak to the dynamic sense of velocity created by the art of the Russian avant-garde. This economy of design is also seen in El Lissitzky’s cover of Wendingen: barely four forms, two lines, and the title angled between the lines and oriented in the same direction as the grey rectilinear slab. The thin lines continue from the front cover to the back. Indeed, one of the most exciting features of this exhibition is the ample inclusion of such print works, which also includes an array of LEF magazine covers, books designed by Lissitzky, and illustrations by Olga Rozanova. Of course, one cannot overlook the wall of marvelous movie posters by the Stenberg brothers or the room of movies where the films of Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, and others, are continuously projected.
Upon entering the exhibition, two things are especially striking: first, the extent of MoMA’s holdings in Russian art is a veritable history of the avant-garde. Simply stunning in its depth and quality, much of it is never on view. We know that Alfred Barr began collecting Russian art on his trip to Russia in the late 1920s, but less widely known is the degree to which this collection continued to grow throughout the twentieth century. A second and equally strong impression is one of synergy. Regardless of medium and artist, there is a recognizable direction of development. There is nothing random or haphazard about the evolution of Constructivism and Suprematism. Yet, isn’t this how we tend to think of it: as an avant-garde that is not held together by style because the artists affirmed that they were against style? Perhaps this show teaches us that style in this case refers to an attitude about velocity, angularity, a sense of dynamism, and most important, about the communication of ideas through composition.
The New York Times art critic, Roberta Smith, welcomed this show for another, but equally important, reason. In her December 9 assessment of the exhibition, she noted the role of this exhibition as marking a revolutionary change in how the Museum of Modern Art chooses to display its art. Thus, she concludes that a second revolutionary impulse can be observed–-one which, in this case, suggests an approach to exhibitions that is broad, pulls on the entire collection of the Museum, and enables visitors to see just how the synergy I described previously characterized this moment in Russian art.
The graphic design media may be the most impressive works of all. Although they are not likely to look very different in real life, rarely do we have the opportunity to see so many copies of the radical LEF journal laid out in one place at the same time. Another high point is seeing so many works by one artist together on a single wall or filling a room – the Lissitzky Proun room, for example, and the wall of prints by Lyubov Popova. The individual works may not be newly surprising (although in Popova’s case, they are), but it increases their resonance when so many are seen together. Surely, the artists themselves were aware of this effect as they worked in series.
A viewer unfamiliar with Russian art is in for an exciting surprise. The visitor who has devoted years to studying this period will also be surprised in a different way – namely by that feature of resonance and the almost dizzying profusion of seeing so many works of Russian art in one place.
A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde is on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, December 3, 2016-March 12, 2017.
Roann Barris, a professor of art history and Art Department chair, has long been interested in Russian theater and graphic design. Not long ago, she returned to Moscow where she reexamined the materials she had used in her doctoral research on Russian constructivism, and revised much of what she had originally believed.
Exhibition: “Oleg Vassiliev: Metro Series & Selected Works on Paper from the Kolodzei Art Foundation”
Opening reception on Monday, January 23, 2017, 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
at the Harriman Institute Atrium (420 W 118th Street, 12th floor, New York)
The exhibition on view until March 10, 2017
Oleg Vassiliev was born in 1931 in Moscow; lived and worked in New York. He died in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2013. He has been the recipient of numerous artistic awards and grants, including from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (1994 and 2002). In 1999, he was the first recipient of the “Liberty Prize.” His work has been displayed in museum exhibitions across the globe. His prominent solo museum exhibitions include Oleg Vassiliev: Memory Speaks (Themes and Variations) at The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow in 2004 and The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg in 2005; The Art of Oleg Vassiliev, The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2011; Oleg Vassiliev: Space and Light at the Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick in 2014-2015.
Oleg Vassiliev is regarded as a key member of the Nonconformist Art movement; rather than confining himself to the discussion of contemporary political and societal issues, Vassiliev’s work explores concepts reaching beyond questions of social order. Among his immediate influences are the lyrical realist landscape paintings of Isaac Levitan and Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist art. As the Russian artist Erik Bulatov puts it, Vassiliev’s painting “connects such disparate lines of development in Russian art as nineteenth-century realist painting, landscape painting in particular, and the avant-garde of the 1910s and 1920s.” Though he immigrated to the United States in 1990, Russia and Russian art continued to play an important role in Vassiliev’s work. Rather than reject past artistic experiments, Vassiliev embraced them, combining traditional artistic concepts with nonconformist ideas and influences from early 20th Century abstract art. The past and present seem to collide in his work, and this work, too, appears timeless—at once belonging to the past and the present. Linked to this idea of timelessness, is the idea of transitional space. Throughout his works, Vassiliev emphasizes the importance of memory. Individual memories, often the starting points of his work, become universal explorations of memory and the act of remembering.
This exhibit is presented by the Kolodzei Art Foundation, a public foundation (est. 1991) that organizes exhibitions and cultural exchanges in museums and cultural centers in the United States, Russia and other countries, often utilizing the considerable resources of the Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art, publishes books on Russian art, and provides art supplies to Russian artists. The Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art is one of the largest private art collections, and consists of over 7,000 works, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and videos, by more than 300 artists from Russia and the former Soviet Union. For additional information visit www.KolodzeiArt.org or email Natalia Kolodzei
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Alexander Gray Associates
Exhibition: Sergei Eisenstein: Drawings 1931–1948
January 7 – February 11, 2017
Gallery talk: Joan Neuberger discusses Eisenstein’s drawings
Saturday, January 14, 2017, 4:00 PM
Alexander Gray Associates in collaboration with Matthew Stephenson presents a rare private collection of drawings by the Russian filmmaker and theorist, Sergei Eisenstein on view for the first time in the Americas. These sexually explicit drawings, completed between 1931–1948, span the period of his travels in Mexico and the United States in the 1930s until his death in Moscow in 1948.
A renowned film director and film montage innovator, Eisenstein also wrote extensively and made upwards of 5,000 drawings throughout his life, including designs for film sets and storyboards. This group, however, reveals Eisenstein’s sexual imagination, in part informed by his own bisexuality as well as his considerable reading and travel. Arranged in groupings that demonstrate a diversity of content, the drawings on view are intimately scaled, mostly monochromatic, with flashes of colored pencil typically in red or blue.
As historian Joan Neuberger notes, during his time in Mexico, “Eisenstein confirmed that drawing was no less important in his work as an artist than film-making and theory writing,” though it remains lesser-known. Many of his films are subtly subversive in his refusal to broadly prioritize propagandistic Soviet Realism over experimentation with camera techniques. In his “sex drawings,” Eisenstein engages in pointed institutional critiques, occasionally through the inclusion of Christian iconography and clergy members entwined in sexual acts that might be read as sacrilegious. He also illustrates figures engaged in intercourse in public spaces including the circus, nightclubs, and the streets. One red and black pencil drawing includes the text “Drag,” and features two figures in an environment that evokes a nightclub, likely in New York. One figure wearing a man’s suit appears to be reaching up the second figure’s dress as they recline on a sofa. Through his exploration of this content, Eisenstein constructs succinct and transgressive visual stories in a medium that was intentionally less public-facing than his films.
Also present in many of these drawings are irreverent depictions of inter-species relations including: a scene of matadors and bulls engaged in oral sex, and a fornicating alligator and rabbit captioned “Fucking, according to the Best System.” These pairings highlight Eisenstein’s fascination with dualities, which he called the “unity of opposites,” as well as his interest in representing a broad range of behaviors and desires reflecting the Freudian topicality of their time. Eisenstein’s experiences in Hollywood are apparent in these drawings, in particular his interest in Walt Disney’s films, which he claimed were “the greatest contribution of the American people to art,” and which informed his sometimes cartoonish style demonstrated in a drawing of a nude man draped backwards over an expressively wide-eyed giraffe.
After spending six months in California, Eisenstein traveled to Mexico to begin filming ¡Que Viva México!, an epic about the country’s history. He intended his trip to last three to four months; it lasted over a year. In 1946, Eisenstein wrote, “it was in Mexico that my drawing underwent an internal catharsis, striving for mathematical abstraction and purity of line. The effect was considerably enhanced when this abstract, ‘intellectualized’ line was used for drawing especially sensual relationships between human figures.” This interest in line and interplay of figures underscores his connection to the work of Mexican muralists including Diego Rivera, who Eisenstein first met in 1927, and whose work he greatly admired.
The drawings on view have a rich history. When departing Mexico, Eisenstein was stopped, questioned and his luggage searched at the United States border where the drawings were nearly confiscated for their incendiary nature. Upon his return to Moscow at the height of Stalin’s rule he kept the explicit images hidden until his death in 1948. His widow, the writer and filmmaker Pera Atasheva, donated most of his graphic archive, with the exception of his sex drawings, to the Russian State Archives of Literature and Art in Moscow (RGALI). Atasheva entrusted the erotic drawings to Eisenstein’s close friend and collaborator, the famous Soviet cinematographer Andrei Moskvin, who protected the director’s reputation by keeping these drawings hidden. After Moskvin’s death in 1961, his widow safeguarded the drawings. In the late 1990s her heirs sold the drawings to the family of present owner. A quarter of the drawings were also donated to the permanent collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Also on view to provide visual context and connection to Eisenstein’s cinematic practice is a continual projection of the 1979 edit of ¡Que Viva México!, Eisenstein’s unfinished film which he began filming in Mexico in 1931. The film footage was edited by various people and released without Eisenstein’s participation in 1933, 1934, 1939, 1940, and ultimately by his assistant director, Grigorii Alexandrov in 1979.
About Matthew Stephenson
Matthew Stephenson is a London based art dealer advising and representing artists and artist’s estates and assisting private collectors and institutions through the exhibition, acquisition and selling of 19th, 20th century and contemporary art.
About Joan Neuberger
Neuberger is Professor, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin.
Alexander Gray Associates
Alexander Gray Associates is a contemporary art gallery in New York. Through exhibitions, research, and artist representation, the Gallery spotlights artistic movements and artists who emerged in the mid- to late-Twentieth Century. Influential in cultural, social, and political spheres, these artists are notable for creating work that crosses geographic borders, generational contexts and artistic disciplines. Alexander Gray Associates is a member of the Art Dealers Association of America.
Exhibition: Grounding Vision: Waclaw Szpakowski
Curated by Masha Chlenova and Anya Komar
Miguel Abreu Gallery
88 Eldridge Street (Lower East Side), New York City
January 13-February 19, 2017
The opening reception will take place Wednesday January 18, 2017