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January 13, 2005

'Color, light, sweetness and cold only appear to exist'


Ivan Kliun, one of the great Russian avant-garde artists of the early 20th century.


"Their material existence can only be apprehended through perception. Ideas and thoughts are in essence products of material processes."

Beyond thought-provoking.

Kliun said, in effect, that the world creates us.

Our sense of self and identity result from thinking, and that thinking is set into motion by what is outside ourselves.

I can't even begin to understand what this means, but I am trying.

Very hard.

Kliun's iconic painting, "Red Light" (leading this post) is one of 250 works in "Color and Light in the Russian Avant-Garde," a show Jackie Wullschlager, the superb art critic of The Financial Times, termed "breathtaking."

About 50 works in this show have never before been exhibited.

That the works survived at all is a kind of miracle.


George Costakis, a Moscow-born Greek foreign embassy worker, in the 1940s began acquiring paintings by the Russian avant-garde.

There was no official art market for these pictures, which were forbidden and ordered destroyed by the Soviet government.

Nevertheless, Costakis and a handful of others persisted in their efforts to save them.

Costakis purchased his pictures in Stalinist Russia "from the artists and their families, uncovering paintings used as table tops or to keep the rain out of dilapidated barns."

Bad news: the show closed this past Monday, January 10, in Berlin.


Good news: it's moving to Vienna [Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig; tel: 43 1 525 00], where it will be up from February 18 to May 29. After that it goes to Thessaloniki, Greece [State Museum of Contemporary Art, tel: 30 2310 589 14942], from July 17 to September 30.

[via Jackie Wullschlager and The Financial Times]

January 13, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink


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is just me, or does some bizarre optical effect happen when you look at the top image, and then look at the blank space to the right, and then back again?

Posted by: Russ | Jan 13, 2005 7:19:49 PM

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