The Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents the second iteration of «Implicit Modernism», an exhibition based on Roman Babichev’s vast private collection of Russian XX century art.
The exhibition continues the project’s primary investigation, which challenges the traditional division of Soviet art into «avant-garde» and «socialist realism», and focuses on one of the richest, most complex and striking layers of «Soviet modernism» — the Leningrad school of the 1920s-1950s.
The broad collection of Roman Babichev, containing about 4,000 works of art, offers a wide view of the little-studied culture of Leningrad between the First and Second World Wars. Memories of Art Nouveau and Symbolism, as well as the influence of the Academy of Arts and the artist association «Mir Iskusstva» («World of Art»), are met with the newest artistic styles of Russian and foreign art. Leningrad saw a dynamic interaction of large Modernist schools attempting to lay the foundations of contemporary painting and create the style of the era. At the same time, it was in 1930s Leningrad that a state campaign against Formalism and Naturalism in art originated, resulting in the prohibition of independent artist associations. Artists lost the opportunity to freely continue their experimental work.
The curators of «Implicit Modernism» offer an alternative official history of Leningrad art’s scene development from the period from the 1920s to the 1950s. Instead of focusing on historical milestones (two world wars and three revolutions), the exhibition is based on the activities of informal art communities and their most prominent figures. The exposition of more than 250 works including paintings, sculpture, and drawings traces relationships between art styles invisible to the official criticism of the time and discovers in their surprising density and strength of internal connections the continuity of artistic trends of the 20th century.
The exhibition, consisting of 14 sections, will present the work of pupils of Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin from the association «Circle of Artists»; students of Pavel Filonov from the association «Masters of Analytical Art»; former employees of GInHuK from the «Group of Painting and Plastic Realism» under the leadership of Vera Ermolaeva; masters of lithography from the Experimental Print studio of the Leningrad Union of Artists; artists from the circle of Vladimir Lebedev from the Detgiz publishing house and will focus on the Leningrad School of Painting. Separate sections of the exhibition will be monographic halls of Alexander Vedernikov, Alexander Rusakov, and Vladimir Grinberg. The curatorial texts accompanying each section illustrates the fate of the exhibition’s hero and trace the connection of their works with global and domestic art practices, showing the mark they left on the art of following generations.
The opening of the exhibition is timed concurrently with the release of the second of five volumes on the collection of Roman Babichev. The second volume is dedicated to the work of Alexander Vedernikov. The exhibition is preparing educational and excursion programs.