FILATOV ART FUND: Filatov launches art fund to restore ‘lost’ Soviet masterpieces to public viewing

November 19, 2012

London - The Filatov Family, led by Andrei Filatov, has launched the first art fund focused on bringing together Soviet paintings, drawings and sculptures that left Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The aim of the fund is to make these works, many of which have been “lost” for decades, available to the public in order to facilitate a better understanding of the significance and skill of artists from this important period in Russian history.

The Filatov Family Art Fund initially intends to purchase about 10 to 12 works of art a year dating from the period between 1917-1991, enabling it to become the point of reference for this particular artistic period. A large number of works of art from this time were sold to private collectors in the US and Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union and many have not been seen publicly since.

Initial financing has been contributed by Andrei Filatov, investor in Russian infrastructure and shareholder of Globaltrans and Global Ports. To date, Andrei Filatov has supported an exhibition of works by Nicolai Fechin, produced a book on works by Viktor Popkov, and sponsored the holding of the World Chess Championship Match at the Tretyakov State Gallery in Moscow, highlighting the importance of this museum. This extends his commitment to increasing awareness of Russian art.

The fund will keep track of the international market to secure purchasing opportunities that add artistic and commercial value to the collection. Three major works from this period have already been located and purchased by the fund: Vera Mukhina’s “Worker and Kolkhoz Woman” (statue), Nicolai Fechin’s “Daisies” (painting) and Alexander Laktionov’s “Letter from the Front” (painting).

In addition to collecting art from this Socialist Realism period, the fund aims to promote awareness and appreciation for this art movement through exhibitions, lending to Russian and international museums, private art galleries and other public exhibits as well as through the publication of books and catalogues on key artists and artefacts. The art from this period extends far beyond its well-known use as a Soviet propaganda device and includes strong elements of art deco, impressionism and even the synthetic style of modern art.

Andrei Filatov, founder and financier of the fund, said: “Although many of their US and European peers are better known, behind the iron curtain Soviet artists were also producing world-class paintings and sculptures. Much of this art found its way into private collections outside Russia where it has been hidden away. Our intention is not to repatriate this art but to reveal the breadth and depth of this movement, and the skill of these artists, to a much wider international audience for the first time. The artworks that we have purchased to launch this fund are some of the strongest examples of this talent and underscore the need to bring it to the public eye.”

The artworks acquired, among others, by the art fund:

Vera Mukhina “Worker and Kolkhoz Woman” (163 x112 x 116, Plaster) – This is a model for a famous landmark of monumental art that represents a dynamic sculpture of two figures with a sickle and a hammer raised over their heads. The final work is 24.5 meters (78 feet) tall, was made from stainless steel by Vera Mukhina for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris, and then subsequently moved to Moscow. This plaster version was done by the artist and used to produce the bronze cast from which came the final version for the World’s Fair. The sculpture is an example of the socialist realistic and Art Deco styles. The worker holds aloft a hammer and the kolkhoz woman a sickle to form the hammer and sickle motif, “the ideal and symbol of the Soviet epoch”.

Nicolai Fechin: “Daisies’’ (1930 oil on canvas, 110 x 100 cm, signed by painter) - This fabulous painting was recovered in the US and purchased by the fund from the daughter of a very good friend of Nicolai Fechin’s family. It demonstrates the artist’s ability to capture the light in the impressionist style. Fechin (1881-1995) was a Russian-American painter who was known for his portraits, most famously of Native Americans. Born in Russia, he emigrated to New York in 1923, and then after several years moved to the drier climate of Taos, New Mexico, after developing tuberculosis.

Alexander Laktionov “Letter from the Front” (1951 oil on canvas, 225 x 155 cm, signed by painter) – This painting was purchased from a private collection in the Bahamas having originally left the artist’s family collection for a private collection in the US in the early 1990s. Alexander Laktionov was the People’s Artists of Russia and a member of the Academy of Arts. Joseph Stalin commissioned this painting personally in order that this important work, representing the pre-eminence of Soviet Union artistry, could be displayed in various international exhibitions from the 1950s to the 1970s. The original was exhibited in and has never left the Tretyakov State Gallery in Moscow. Laktionov was awarded the Stalin prize in 1948 for the first version of ``Letter from the Front.”



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