Moscow socialite opens celebration of Russian art

Fri Mar 5, 2010 12:34pm EST
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MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - Fashion designer and ex-model Daria Zhukova, the girlfriend of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, has opened a new exhibition celebrating Russian modern art at her refurbished Moscow gallery.

Zhukova, wearing a muted grey dress and black tights, said the 'Garage' would display an all-Russian line-up for the first time in its two-year history after a two month shut-down.

"What's interesting is that these are two different points of view on modern art," Zhukova told a packed news briefing, explaining that avant-garde and utopian influences on Russian art were on display.

She then posed for TV cameras alongside a tower of florescent lights by contemporary Russian artist Andrei Molodkin.

The 'Garage' had been closed while Parisian curator Herve Mikaeloff put together the works by more than 40 Russian artists. The vast open plan gallery was converted from an old Soviet bus depot in 2008, and Zhukova at the time said London's Tate Modern had influenced it.

Zhukova leases the building from a Russian Jewish organization, although the financial details have not been disclosed. A spokeswoman for the gallery told Reuters her 'partner' Abramovich was not connected, though he is widely speculated to have donated some money.

Abramovich, currently Russia's third richest man, made his fortune in oil and commodities but shot to worldwide fame when he bought London's Chelsea Football Club in 2003.

Afterwards, revelers downed glasses of vodka and scoffed miniature pancakes at the gallery's party, held in an empty space reserved for a future exhibition of privately held works by U.S. artist Mark Rothko.

GIANT I-PHONE   Continued...

<p>Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich stands with his Russian model girlfriend Daria Zhukova before the UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester United at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow May 21, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh</p>