M A Y 4,  2012

I should confess that I started writing this text a couple of weeks before the official opening of the exhibition. I wanted to announce the event in advance. I did write something, but luckily did not upload it to my website. Everything changed dramatically during the opening of the exhibition: something happened to me, and all thoughts about the forthcoming exhibition that I had entertained suddenly disappeared, giving way to anxiety, excitement and extraordinary satisfaction verging on euphoria. Let me begin from the very beginning.

3 Рауль Дюфи Collecting as a Creative Act. The Exhibition “Portraits of Collectors” for the Anniversary of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

Raoul Dufy. Hunter, 1918

The department of private collections of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts opened the exhibition “Portraits of Collectors” timed to coincide with the museum’s centenary. Bare figures: on show are 300 works of Russian and West European art from the 11th century to our day. Twenty-five private collectors lent these works to the museum. The organizers wanted the public to meet the new wave of private Russian collectors through their collections. A well justified and logical approach. A separate section of the exposition was allocated to every one of the collectors – some larger, others smaller, depending to a certain extent on the status of the collection and the collector. I think that none of the contributors bears a grudge, even those who are represented by no more than two or three works. It is a great honor and privilege to find oneself among the 25 collectors. This is at least my opinion.

6 Фужита Collecting as a Creative Act. The Exhibition “Portraits of Collectors” for the Anniversary of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

Leonard Fujita. Two Mexicans, 1932

1 Дерен. Портрет Б Collecting as a Creative Act. The Exhibition “Portraits of Collectors” for the Anniversary of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

André Derain. Portrait of Boris Kohno, the 1920s

7 Паскен Collecting as a Creative Act. The Exhibition “Portraits of Collectors” for the Anniversary of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

Jules Pascin. Cuba. Outdoors, the late 1910s

The fact that the leading Russian museum should be interested in private collectors and their collections is quite understandable and justified. Suffice it to remember that practically every museum now in existence both inside and outside Russia came into being thanks to the initiative and collecting activities of private collectors. Some of the collectors were lucky to have the cause of their lives named after them or at least to merit a mention that the present and coming generations owe them the chance to get to know the amassed treasures. Others did not have that luck and are remembered by practically no one, even though their collections formed part of (or were incorporated into) museum collections.

2 Deren Collecting as a Creative Act. The Exhibition “Portraits of Collectors” for the Anniversary of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

André Derain. Still Life with a Vase and Fruit, 1912–1913

A few words about my personal experience of taking part in such events. The chance to present works from one’s own collection at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art is a great occasion for any collector and, what is more, it means a tremendous responsibility to oneself, fellow collectors, the museum community and viewers. It is a great honor to see your treasures on the walls of one of the best Russian museums next to works from other collections, especially within the framework of a project celebrating the museum’s centenary. I anxiously waited for the opening ceremony because the bulk of my collection consists of graphic works, which are less imposing, spectacular or “rich” (if I may put it so). Graphic works are fragile, not flashy, and more often than not they are like “hermits” hidden from viewers in portfolios. They shun bright light and tend to stay in the shadows. People in Russia mostly collect paintings, whereas graphic works are “on the back burner”, so to speak. It was all the more gratifying to see that the section of the exposition allocated to works from my collection looked favorably next to works from other collections. What is more, it seems to me a tuning fork of sorts for the entire orchestra of pieces representing West European art of the early 20th century.

Anyhow, this exhibition is on a must-see list and I am looking forward to hearing and discussing your impressions.