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Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia : Selections from the George Costakis Collection. — New York, 1981

Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia : Selections from the George Costakis Collection / by Margit Rowell and Angelica Zander Rudenstine. — New York : The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1981  Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia : Selections from the George Costakis Collection / by Margit Rowell and Angelica Zander Rudenstine. — New York : The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1981
 
 

Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia : Selections from the George Costakis Collection / by Margit Rowell and Angelica Zander Rudenstine. — New York : The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1981. — 320 p., ill. — ISBN 0-89207-29-3

 
 

Preface

 
The name of George Costakis has been well known throughout the art world for some time. A citizen of Greece who had spent his entire life in the Soviet Union, he accomplished the extraordinary and unique feat of amassing a private collection of twentieth-century Russian and Soviet art in which the great names of the avant-garde are often represented by numerous works and in a variety of media. Over the years, many a visitor from abroad was privileged to visit the Costakis apartment to find exquisite examples illuminating a little-known chapter of modern-art history. The works were hung or merely placed in an informal and unselfconscious setting over which the collector-proprietor presided with authoritative knowledge and unflagging enthusiasm.
 
Visitors who came in 1977 or thereafter could no longer see the entire collection in George Costakis’s home. But during the 1977 ICOM conference, it was possible to glimpse a few examples from it in a segregated area at the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow. It was subsequently announced that about eighty percent of Costakis’s art holdings was to remain at the Tretiakov as the collector’s generous gift to the country that, his Greek citizenship notwithstanding, had always been his own. Costakis and virtually his entire family emigrated with the remainder of the collection and settled in Athens.
 
The first public showing of the part of the collection brought out of the Soviet Union was arranged in 1977, almost immediately upon its arrival in the West, by Wend von Kalnein, then director of the Düsseldorf Kunstmuseum. This event, together with a slide presentation of the collection at the Guggenheim Museum in 1973, indirectly resulted in the current exhibition.
 
Many visits, first to the Costakis home, then to the Tretiakov Gallery and eventually to Düsseldorf, were made by Margit Rowell, Angelica Rudenstine and myself. They led us to approach Costakis with a proposal to entrust the collection now in the West to the Guggenheim Museum for thorough study, conservation and documentation as necessary preliminaries to a selective exhibition at the Guggenheim and subsequent extended circulation to other museums under our auspices. Mr. Costakis agreed to this undertaking, and Margit Rowell, as Curator of Special Exhibitions, with Adjunct Curator Angelica Rudenstine, brought the project to its present stage. Both engaged in extensive scholarly research in order to arrive at the carefully considered selection on display and to produce a catalogue rich in new and reliable information. That other Guggenheim staff members, who are acknowledged elsewhere in this publication, have provided essential support does not in any way diminish the importance of the contributions of the co-curators.
 
The part played by George Costakis as collector and lender is too obvious to be belabored in this preface, but it should be stressed that the owner of this extraordinary collection remained in close touch with all aspects of the project, freely providing valuable, previously unpublished data and asserting a lively interest though not a determining voice throughout the process of selection.
 
The Guggenheim Museum has embarked upon this project, as it has upon comparable exhibitions in the past, in order to contribute to the expansion of knowledge of the twentieth-century art that remains outside the already codified and by now familiar mainstream. The collector’s willingness to enter into a professional relationship with the Guggenheim Foundation represents his response to our initiative.
 
I therefore take great pleasure in expressing the Guggenheim’s gratitude to George Costakis for joining in a friendship that we hope will endure long beyond the occasion of the current exhibition.
 
Thomas M. Messer, Director
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
 

 

Contents

 
Preface by Thomas M. Messer.. 6
Acknowledgments.. 7
The George Costakis Collection by Angelica Zander Rudenstine.. 9
New Insights into Soviet Constructivism: Painting, Constructions, Production Art by Margit Rowell.. 15
 
The Catalogue by Angelica Zander Rudenstine.. 33
Notes for the Reader.. 34
I. Symbolism and Origins.. 37
II. Cubo-Futurism.. 46
III. Matiushin and His School.. 74
Pavel Filonov.. 108
IV. Suprematism and Unovis.. 110
V. The Inkhuk and Constructivism.. 198
VI. Productivism.. 259
VII. Parallel Trends: The Figurative and the Cosmic, 1918—1930.. 305
 
Biographical Notes.. 312
Index of Artists in the Exhibition.. 319
Photographic Credits.. 320
 

 

Sample pages

Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia : Selections from the George Costakis Collection / by Margit Rowell and Angelica Zander Rudenstine. — New York : The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1981  Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia : Selections from the George Costakis Collection / by Margit Rowell and Angelica Zander Rudenstine. — New York : The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1981
 
Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia : Selections from the George Costakis Collection / by Margit Rowell and Angelica Zander Rudenstine. — New York : The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1981  Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia : Selections from the George Costakis Collection / by Margit Rowell and Angelica Zander Rudenstine. — New York : The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1981
 
Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia : Selections from the George Costakis Collection / by Margit Rowell and Angelica Zander Rudenstine. — New York : The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1981  Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia : Selections from the George Costakis Collection / by Margit Rowell and Angelica Zander Rudenstine. — New York : The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1981
 

 

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