Alexander Burenkov

  • picks March 09, 2020

    “‘We Treasure Our Lucid Dreams.’ The Other East and Esoteric Knowledge in Russian Art 1905–1969”

    Tapping into the recent craze for spiritually minded exhibitions, “‘We Treasure Our Lucid Dreams.’ The Other East and Esoteric Knowledge in Russian Art 1905–1969” throws down the gauntlet to the formalist art history of Soviet art. It instead proposes, through a wide array of archival documents, an alternative narrative in which creative and spiritual inquiries were closely related to extrasensory perception, mystical practices, and occult knowledge as informed by the conditions of the fin de siècle, World War I, and the collapse of the Russian Empire. As in any time of upheaval, those dissatisfied

  • “The Museum of Pictorial Culture”

    In Moscow in 1918, the people’s commissar of education, Anatoly Lunacharsky, approved a list of 143 artists who sought to elevate the aesthetic sensibility of the working class. This new art was hailed as symbolic of the young country. Its creators—cutting-edge artists such as Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Aleksandr Rodchenko, David Shterenberg, and Vladimir Tatlin—received carte blanche to shape culture by establishing a museum for contemporary art in Moscow, a full decade before Alfred H. Barr Jr.’s founding of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. But the pioneering Soviet institution

  • picks January 28, 2020

    The Crystallography of Malevich and Leonidov

    The Russian avant-garde eagerly and indiscriminately absorbed the novelties of modernity, from the invention of radio and cinema; to developments in modern transportation, electrification, and advertising; to X-rays and crystallography—the subject of curator Alexandra Selivanova’s research-driven exhibition at Moscow’s Gallery Na Shabolovke. In 1912, the German physicist Max von Laue observed that X-rays passing through crystals produced diffraction patterns, an insight that informed father-and-son duo William and Lawrence Bragg’s analysis of crystalline structures. Following her sensational