The State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki, possessing the legendary collection of George Costakis, is opening a new page in its history
The Museum holds one of the most complete collections of Russian avant-garde art outside Russia itself. The aim of the new exhibition is to show this outstanding collection through the prism of the personality of George Costakis, one of the greatest collectors of our time, who acquired these works in the highly challenging environment of the USSR, often saving them from otherwise inevitable destruction.
Lyubov Popova, Ivan Kliun, Solomon Nikritin, Kazimir Malevich, Nadezhda Udaltsova, Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, Aleksandr Drevin, Mikhail Matyushin, Pavel Filonov and other great masters of Russian avant-garde art
Gustav Klucis Dynamic city, 1919-1921. Oil, concrete and sand on wood. 87х63.5
Gustav Klucis, Dynamic city, 1919-1921. Oil, concrete and sand on wood. 87х 63.5
The breath-taking collection which Costakis assembled in the Soviet Union in the second half of the last century embraces Russian and Soviet art of the 1900s-1940s, including all stages of the formation and development of the Russian avant-garde with all its diverse styles, genres and techniques. In 1977, a part of the collection was donated to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, while the remaining works left the USSR together with their owner, who settled in Greece. Each of the two parts of the divided collection offers a vivid picture of the evolution of the Russian avant-garde.
The works now held by the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki include: a small but representative collection of the paintings and graphics of the founder of Suprematism, Kazimir Malevich; creations by the pioneers of Constructivism, Vladimir Tatlin, Alexander Rodchenko and Gustav Klutsis; more than 200 works by the outstanding cubo-futurist and constructivist, Lyubov Popova; a broad selection of works by Ivan Klyun; artistic productions by artists of the School of Organic Culture (led by Mikhail Matyushin and the Ender family) and by the founder and theoretician of analytical art, Pavel Filonov; and programme works and archival materials of Solomon Nikritin, Alexander Drevin, Nadezhda Udaltsova, Olga Rozanova, El Lissitzky and Pavel Mansurov; as well as a collection of "agit porcelain" and industrial design work.
In addition to this unique collection of fine art, the Museum holds the document archive of George Costakis. Such a broad range of art works under one roof with relevant archive documents enable in-depth study of the phenomenon of the Russian avant-garde as a whole and its various manifestations. The new exhibition presents the Museum's collection as a complete whole for the first time.
Mikhail Matiushin Painterly musical construction, 1918 Watercolor and gouache on cardboard.
In 2017 a development committee was set up at the Thessaloniki Museum, headed by Kristina Krasnyanskaya, founder of the Heritage International Foundation. The committee has drawn up a development strategy for the Museum, which will be officially launched on June 28 to coincide with the opening of the exhibition Thessaloniki.CostakisCollection. Restart.
The director of the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki is Maria Tsantsanoglou. The exhibition curators are Natalia Avtonomova and Alla Lukanova. The exhibition was designed by Kirill Ass and Nadia Korbut. The exhibition catalogue is the work of Dmitry Mordvintsev (ABC Design).
1: Liubov Popova. Travelling woman, 1915 (Oil on canvas, 158.5 x 123) 2: Liubov Popova. Painterly architectonics, 1918 (Oil on canvas, 71.1 х 58.3) 3: Pavel Filonov. Head, 1925-1926 (Oil, watercolor and gouache on cardboard, 86.7 х 60.7)
Head of the development committee, founder of the Heritage International Foundation
The new strategy reinforces the role of the State Museum of Modern Art in Thessaloniki as the largest centre of the Russian avant-garde outside Russia itself. The Museum, as the owner of the George Costakis archive, is destined to be the principle European platform for study of the Russian avant-garde and to preserve the memory of a great 20th century art collector. The study, description, preservation and popularization of this unique archive is the key task of the Museum, and we will now be able to carry it out thanks to strengthening of the Museum team and the use of new approaches in our work.
President of the Board of Administration of SMCA
The extensive revisited exhibition of the Costakis collection coincides with the establishment of the Metropolitan Organization of Museums of Visual Arts of Thessaloniki (MOMus) and the Museum of Modern Art – Costakis Collection, which will be one of the directories of the new organization. This means that from now on the doors will be open to a new opportunity of better and undistracted organization management and research of the Russian Avant-Garde through the targeted activities of the Museum of Modern Art – Costakis Collection. On the other hand, this exhibition is the first to be organized with the great support of the members of the Board of Trustees, a new advisory body, set up at the Museum, in accordance with the relevant international experience, which aims to attract the interest and support of donors from the international artworld.
Director of the State Museum of Contemporary Art
The State Museum of Modern Art is pleased to be offering a new approach to curating and museum management, and also to exhibition design, as part of our relaunch of the Costakis collection. George Costakis was an outstanding collector who gathered masterpieces of a unique period in the history of art and saved many of them from destruction. The new exhibition will present the main periods of the Russian avant-garde, its key directions, schools and individual representatives. The relaunched collection will also become part of a new international association – the Metropolitan Organization of Museums of Visual Arts (MOMus). This opens up new opportunities for scientific research, and for exhibition and educational programmes. I would like to thank all of our colleagues in Greece and Russia, through whose efforts Thessaloniki will now be an international centre for the study of the Russian avant-garde, welcoming both specialists and the general public.
Ivan Kliun Red light. Spherical construction, 1923 Oil on canvas
Ivan Kliun Red light. Spherical construction, 1923 Oil on canvas
Andrey Cheglakov's AVC Charity Foundation for the Support and Implementation of Cultural Programmes is acting as general partner of the project. The AVC Charity Foundation was established in 2008 with the principal mission of supporting contemporary art, helping young talent and disseminating cultural knowledge in Russia and abroad.
Founder of the AVC Charity Foundation
George Costakis collection is the outstanding cultural phenomenon of XX century which is still being reinterpreted today. The fact that half of this collection of Russian avant-garde art is now situated in the European museum on the one hand helps to promote Russian art abroad, but at the same time implies certain obligations. AVC Charity is definitely interested in supporting this project as the foundation that is aimed to cross the boundaries and amplify dialogue between Russian and worldwide art.
Left: El Lissitzky. Design sketch for a monument to Rosa Luxemburg. 1919–1920 (Pencil, India ink and gouache on paper. 10 × 10.1) Center: Aleksandr Rodchenko. Construction on white (Robots), 1920 (Oil on plywood. 145.8 x 95.5) Right: Nadezhda Udaltsova. Yellow jug, ca. 1913-1914 (Oil on canvas. 70.7 x 52.3)
1: El Lissitzky. Design sketch for a monument to Rosa Luxemburg. 1919–1920 (Pencil, India ink and gouache on paper. 10 × 10.1) 2: Aleksandr Rodchenko. Construction on white (Robots), 1920 (Oil on plywood. 145.8 x 95.5) 3: Nadezhda Udaltsova. Yellow jug, ca. 1913-1914 (Oil on canvas. 70.7 x 52.3)
The State Museum of Contemporary Art is situated in the northeast wing of the Moni Lazariston complex, with a total area of 3,300 square meters. The building was modified into a museum according to modern international standards.