november 10, 2017 - Sotheby

Soviet Art at Sotheby's

Sotheby’s to hold Dedicated Sale of Soviet Art To Mark the Centenary of the Russian Revolution

Over 120 lots by 80 Artists Spanning 1920 – 1991 Estimates from £1,000 to £3.5 million

November, 2017: In a few weeks’ time, Sotheby’s will hold its first dedicated auction of Soviet Art to coincide with the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, one of the defining moments of the 20th century. Still too little understood outside the region itself, the artistic legacy of the world’s first Socialist Republic is slowly gaining wider international recognition thanks to a number of ambitious exhibitions this year.

Recent years have seen promising results for Soviet artists at all price levels in Sotheby’s Russian Pictures auctions, most importantly for Georgy Nissky’sOver the Snowy Fields which established a new record for any work of Soviet Art when it sold for £1.76 million ($2.95 million) in 2014. This sale of over 120 lots includes examples by 80 different artists from the earliest years of the Soviet Union to 1991. Estimates range from £1,000 to £3.5 million.

Covering the avant-garde, state-sponsored Socialist Realism and unofficial art of the post-war period, the sale will demonstrate the surprising diversity of the USSR’s artistic output. The early 1930s is often seen as the end of experimentation, however, as the sale shows, the artistic reactions to these seismic events were diverse, and art continued to evolve. Some of the artists will be familiar to audiences – notably #alexanderrodchenko and Alexander Deineka – but many others have never before been offered at auction nor exhibited widely.

The sale is highlighted by three important works from the American collector Raymond Johnson who has been visiting artists and their families in Russia since the mid-1980s. Critics had long-since recognised that the USSR was home to world-class ballet dancers, writers, poets and musicians, but with the advent of Perestroika and Gorbachev’s transition toward a more open society, many now began to wonder whether the country’s artists were equally motivated to greatness. Johnson’s thirty year adventure in collecting has culminated in one of the greatest privately-owned collections of Soviet-era art – three works from which will be included in our sale with a combined estimate of £4.15-5.45 million (lots 240- 242).

An additional six works will be offered from Gekkoso Gallery, Tokyo. Gallerist Yoko Nakamura discovered the art of the Soviet Union in 1969 and became a passionate advocate of Soviet Art, organising travelling exhibitions of Soviet Art in Japan for many years (more information below, lots 297- 302).

The ‘Art of the Soviet Union’ sale will be held in London alongside Sotheby’s biannual sales of ‘Russian Pictures’, and ‘Russian Works of Art, Fabergé and Icons’ on 28 November.

More information on the press release

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