The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Feb 9, 2012


I have been singularly remiss in posting and the reason's plain to see
I am obsessing about the Russian avant-garde and it has taken over me 
I'd like to point you all to another blog of mine 
Because clearly when I can't manage one 
Two will work out fine.

Three, if you include Tumblr. Hot damn.

Long years ago - well, maybe four - there was a TV programme by Marcel Theroux that addressed the phenomenon of Russian oligarchs buying up every piece of their country's art that they could lay their hands on. This was no different from rich Chinese and Indians piling on to artistic treasures of their own countries, but given that Chinese and Indian art is not quite mainstream in the West, and only what happens in the West is worth documenting, much fanfare was made of the Oligarts, as Theroux put it. At the time, I did watch the programme. It was a fascinating insight into a period of Russian creativity before it got stomped on by Communism. There were names - like Zinaida Serebriakova - who were coming back into vogue, decades after their oeuvre had been forgotten. I watched avidly and then as with many other ephemeral interests, I forgot all about it.

Until recently, when suddenly the bug bit me again. I'm not sure exactly what it was that caused the infection, but it came on creepingly and it came on strong. So the past few weeks have found me busily scouring the web for images and translating text from Russian and French, educating myself a bit about the art of the Russian  (and Soviet) imperium. So far I have covered Zinaida Serebriakova, Vera Rockline and started on Pavel Shmarov, all of whom were contemporaries, exiles in Paris from the 1920s onwards. The Russian avant-garde included such famous folks as Kandinski and Chagall, but so much is known of them, and much less about Kustodiev and Vassilief and all those others. Nor do I want to restrict myself to ethnic Russians - the avant-garde was much more inclusive, and there were other nationalities from the Russian empire that participated. And there's no reason to stick to the avant-garde either. So I'll go over them all slowly - one hopes. As with all my interests, this too can fade at a blink.

Meanwhile, it's not that I have been ignoring life in general. There was an expedition to Asia House for a display of art by George Chinnery. There was copious consumption of all things Scottish at Burns night. There were several episodes of Lost Kingdoms of Africa, too. I'm reading, too, far less than I once used to. There are several books to note. And there's always the boy's escapades in the world of mathematics. Much to talk about and so little time. Soon!


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