Fragment from a bronze sculpture by Alexey Morozov

Art Moscow – In The Winds of Change 0

When the changes to the Viennafair  were announced in the beginning of this year – including its new date, which now overlaps with Art Moscow this September – there was a collective shrugging of the shoulders in the art world “What does it mean?”. Well, September has arrived, and Art Moscow starts Wednesday, while VIENNAFAIR The New Contemporary – on Thursday.

An interesting mix of participants 

It is quite clear that it is beyond the reach of most galleries to be in both fairs at once, and thus, the majority had to choose between the two. For instance, Riga’s gallery Alma, Tallinn’s Temnikova & Kasela and Helsinki’s prestigious Forsblom will not take part in Art Moscow this year, having chosen to give Vienna the upper hand.

So, who then will be at Art Moscow this year? 35 galleries have confirmed their attendance (last year, there were 37). Among these, the notable Russian galleries Triumph and Glaz are showing their loyalty, but don’t even bother looking for the galleries XL, Marat Guelman and Aidan – as you may recall, the news that these three large galleries were closing their doors(albeit only in physical terms, since artist exhibitions and projects continue to develop) took the cultural press by storm not only in Russia, but the world over. But nevertheless, a colorful group of newcomers have announced their attendance – galleries from Cuba, Portugal, Iran and Abkhazia. And international regulars of Art Moscow will also be on hand – like London’s White Space Gallery, which represents Russian artists, as well as Tokyo’s Whitestone, representing Japanese artists such as Takasi Murakami, Jajoi Kusama and, interestingly enough, Marc Chagall. Another new face at Art Moscow this year will be – look for our team in the art media section, alongside such prominent Russian periodicals as Snob, Artchronika, Artguide and others.

A platform for the exchange of ideas, and the hustle and bustle of the art scene

Leafing through the Russian press in the last week, it’s quite clear that no one is expecting an economic windfall from Art Moscow. In an interview with, Vasily Bychkov – director of the Central House of Artists, under the auspices of which Art Moscow has been taking place since 1996 – reaffirms this view, but adds that the art fair is, nonetheless, important to the consolidation of the Russian art market, and must continue to go on. 

But no one is sitting with their arms crossed. This year, the organizers of Art Moscow have created a new and wonderful feature – a comprehensive public discussion series, headlined by prominent figures. The program is a more focused approach in which to foster the exchange of ideas among artists, collectors, gallery owners and curators, and is open to the public at large. At the center of attention will be the Russian art scene.

Another novelty this year is the first ever Moscow Art Week (September 17-30), which is planned to be held on the off-years of the Moscow Contemporary Art Biennial (which will see its fifth year in 2013). Since the organizers of Art Moscow had a hand in the instigation of Moscow Art Week, the week-long event was scheduled so as to encompass the weekend the of the art fair. Vasily Bychkov doesn’t hide his joy about this fact, because during Moscow Art Week, the whole city will morph into a cultural happening, full to the brim with visitors to the events – much like it is on the years of the Biennial – a situation which will almost certainly add to the numbers of people attending the art fair.

From Jurgen Dahlmanns rug series “Paradise”

Highlights of the program

* Along with the gallery stands, visitors to the fair will have the opportunity to view several special projects. One of these is already a tradition – a stand that features works of art from private collections. This year, the works of Russian sculptor Alexey Morozov are in the spotlight, the rarity of their public availability attested by the fact that ten private collections were asked to lend out their pieces.

* A special presentation will be given by the Hermitage Gallery, which will give the prevailing dominance of contemporary art a healthy dose of soviet avant-garde design and post-avant-garde design. This same historical selection was also shown at the Design Miami/Basel art fair earlier in the year.

* Did you know that American pop-artist Andy Warhol had Ukrainian and Slovak roots? Pavel Gudimov’s art center has drawn parallels with Warhol’s genetic background in the project “Warhol’s Relatives” – a grouping of Ukrainian artists whose works are artistically related to those of Warhol.

* Included in Art Moscow will be an exhibition of colorful 21st century rugs, created by the German designer Jan Kath (who just had a short-term exhibition in Latvia’s “Art Museum Riga Bourse”), and the Dutch designer Jurgen Dahlmanns. Dahlmanns’ biography points out that textile design has become almost addictive to the designer ever since he visited Nepal for the first time, when he was 23.

Although a correspondent at the Russian magazine “Afisha” has given the annual art fair, now in its sixteenth year, the moniker of “Terribly Strange Art Moscow”, all signs indicate that these new winds of change just might give the event a well-needed dose of extra oxygen.