St. Petersburg, Russia

“Thaw”

Marble Palace, State Russian Museum

“Thaw: Fifteen Years of the Marat Guelman Gallery,” at St. Petersburg’s Marble Palace, is a tribute to the ingenuity and taste of the gallerist who changed the rules of Russian art. The show’s title refers to a second political thaw in Russian expressive freedom (following the earlier one under Khrushchev) that has characterized the last decade and a half; during this same time, Russian art made the leap from the arms of the state to those of the private gallery. Cemented by Guelman’s donation of thirty works to the State Russian Museum, the exhibition reads as a formal historicization of this short period, and as an official public endorsement of contemporary art.

As described in the show’s substantial catalogue, the post-perestroika generation of artists did not attend art school, avoiding instruction in the socialist realist style. Instead, they thrived in a new art scene in which the

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