Russian modern art gets younger, less politicized

Tue Sep 20, 2011 5:01am EDT
 
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By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Up-and-coming artists competing for Russia's top contemporary art prize kicked off a marathon of exhibits in the Russian capital, which hosts the fourth Moscow Biennale.

A studio strewn with musty books, pages rustling in an artificial breeze; a multicolored play-dough cube squeezed into a cage; and a sphere made out of hundreds of plastic bags were among the 40 art works contesting the prestigious Kadinsky prize.

Named after abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1904), the award hands out cash-prizes of up to $55,100 to modern artists featured at Moscow's Central House of Artists.

"This exhibit cuts across Russia's contemporary art and art forms of today," said Shalva Breus, who founded the award in 2007.

Breus hailed an increase in the number of younger participants and avant-guard ideas alongside a steady decline in Soviet symbolism in Russian art.

"If three years ago, artists widely addressed imperial symbolism, be it of the Russian empire or the Soviet empire, there is no more of that today," he told Reuters at the opening. "There are many more abstract installations."

The fading references to Soviet symbolism in contemporary art highlights that award nominees are getting younger each year, with today's art students born at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The trend may also be market-driven, as younger collectors emerge in Russia, demanding art that speaks to post-Communist era, participants said.   Continued...