Critics’ Picks

Eric Bulatov, A Photograph to Remember, 1994–95, oil on canvas, 48 x 71”.


“Always Other Art”

Moscow Museum of Modern Art
25 Petrovka Street (also at 10 Gogolevsky blvd, 9 Tverskoy blvd, and 17 Ermolaevsky lane)
July 19–May 30

Widely recognized as one of the most important contemporary collectors of Russian icons, Victor Bondarenko has also amassed an extensive collection of “Other Art”––the “nonconformist” and underground art of the Soviet period. Bridging several generations (from the 1970s to now), the one hundred works on display in this group exhibition constitute approximately one-third of Bondarenko’s contemporary collection. Curator Sergey Popov has opted not to indulge too heavily in the “underground” imperative (the too-popular sleight of playing up the social conditions around the work’s creation, rather than the work itself, which, in the case of “Other Art,” is often dull, drab and remarkably unradical). Instead, he adopts a user-friendly thematic format (“Still-Lives,” “Portraits,” and “Landscapes,” to name a few), which forges continuities between rarely seen album pages by Ilya Kabakov; paintings by nonconformist masters Evgeny Rukhin, Mikhail Roginsky, and Erik Bulatov; one-liner Sots art standards by Aleksander Kosolapov and Leonid Sokov; and well-traveled works from post-perestroika kings Oleg Kulik and Anatoly Osmolovsky, as well as the collaborative team Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov. In addition, there are slick new offerings from AES+F and photographer Oleg Dou. The result is a refreshingly accessible primer on contemporary art in Russia, with a focus on substance over story line.