Margarita Tupitsyn

  • Andrei Molodkin

    At the Fifty-Third Venice Biennale, Andrei Molodkin, a Russian-born artist living in Paris, made a splash with his installation Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black), 2009. Displayed in the Russian pavilion, it revealed the artist’s signature approach—encasing a hollow sculptural object in an acrylic block and filling it up with crude oil. For this installation he made two miniature replicas of the Louvre’s Nike of Samothrace, adding pumps that pushed crude oil and blood through them. Red and black images of the sculpture were projected full-size onto a wall using small video cameras.

  • Andrei Monastyrsky

    Collective aesthetic practices long haunted Soviet art. Rooted in avant-garde artists’ commitment to serve the utopian project of Bolshevism, such forms of creativity were corrupted by socialist realism’s counterfeit of the image of successful collectivity, and hence challenged by postwar modernists eager to resurrect a lost sense of individuality. After the “bulldozer show”—the outdoor exhibition notoriously destroyed by Soviet authorities in 1974—the next generation of unofficial artists once again flocked into collectives, this time as a survival tactic.

    Andrei Monastyrsky’s exhibition

  • MARGARITA TUPITSYN

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN to be a native agent in a foreign environment? To organize exhibitions and write about a culture whose context is not transparent, and whose art objects have not yet been critically or institutionally processed, either at home or abroad? These are the kinds of questions that in previous decades wore heavy on the minds of those who, having been involved in the community of expatriate artists who left the Soviet Union during the cold war, sought to reengage with Sots art—the art movement given its name by Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid in 1972, in which socialist realism

  • “Black Square”

    SINCE ITS INTRODUCTION to the public in 1915 at “The Last Futurist Exhibition ‘0.10’” in Petrograd (Saint Petersburg), Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square has intrigued and bewildered artists and critics searching for its meaning. Varvara Stepanova, Malevich’s fellow avant-gardist, conveyed the painting’s conceptual instability when in 1919 she concluded in her diary: “If we look at the square without mystical faith, as if it were a real earthy fact, then what is it?” This reluctance to accept Black Square on a strictly formal basis has endured. Indeed, any hope that the recent exhibition in Hamburg

  • “Black Paintings”

    In today’s museum world, where competition for exhibition space is escalating, emptying two large rooms, painting them black, and then posting a text instructing the viewer on how to perceive a black painting is an ambitious conceptual gesture—one that becomes even more commanding in view of the fact that the exhibition’s curator, Stephanie Rosenthal, limited her checklist for the show to just four American male heavyweights who made black paintings between 1945 and 1965. By making Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, and Ad Reinhardt the sole artists represented, the narrative of a

  • “Russia!”

    Remember the 1966 movie The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming? Well, guess what? The Russians are back, only this time they are showering the West with money rather than ideology. Or is it so simple as that? Russian intellectuals were in a rush to naively proclaim the end of ideology during perestroika, when they witnessed top Soviet apparatchiks turning the Communist regime into their own enemy. While staging this revolution from the inside, Mikhail Gorbachev romanced Ronald Reagan and opened up the cultural arena to Western institutions and the art market, thereby replacing the

  • Russia!

    The founders of the Museum of Non-objective Painting—as the Guggenheim was once called—will turn in their graves when “Russia!” opens. Their institution committed itself to abstract art not long after the big shots of socialist realism celebrated a victory over their modernist rivals; now Krens & Co. will grant the production of these aesthetic adversaries equal status as “masterpieces.” Approximately 250 works from the last eight centuries will be generously thrown into the bin—medieval icons, imperial statuary, Suprematist paintings, Soviet propaganda—everything, presumably, but a Russian