Eduard Gorokhovsky - Important Contemporary Russian Art–Property from a Foundation London Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Livet Reichard Company, Inc., New York

  • Exhibited

    New York, Phyllis Kind Gallery, 1989

  • Catalogue Essay

    This series of paintings by Eduard Gorokhovsky illustrates a history that has yet to be written, the history of the underground in the Soviet Union, the history of so-called ‘unofficial art.' The Soviet underground did not arise as a result of the market's discrimination against outsiders and ‘losers,' but as a result of the political persecution of those who were not integrated into the system. Under Stalin, Soviet art saw the emergence of a group of recognized professionals (the Union of Artists) that maintained a monopoly over all privileges, funding and prestige. This professional art system found its unprofessional counterpart in various worker's clubs, amateur artist groups, and evening studios set up by the state to stimulate amateaur creativity. Here, on the margins, censorship was far more lenient, providing fertile ground for new hotbeds of avant-gardism to emerge in the mid-to-late 1950s after Stalin's death. In 1962, after a scandalous exhibit at the Manezh in Moscow, the head of state Nikita Khrushchev initiated a sweeping campaign against these neo-avantgardists, locking them out of public representation and inaugurating an extended period of semi-legal, ‘unofficial' art (when artists held exhibitions in their apartments.) After 1976, as a precursor to perestroika, neo-avantgardist artists slowly began to capture their own representational spaces again.These included the old workers clubs, art studios, and modest exhibition venues designed to satisfy their surrounding neighbourhood's cultural needs, many of which were still intact and functional.
    These three paintings by Gorokhovsky are dedicated to three legendary exhibition spaces, ‘cult venues' on the Moscow map. Manezh (lot 6) shows the entrance of the same central exhibition hall in Moscow at which Khrushchev vented his anger at the avant-garde artists, calling them ‘pederasts;' later, it hosted some of the key exhibitions of the Glasnost period. The crowd in Dukat (lot 5) is standing in line to enter the cultural club of the Dukat tobacco factory, another important venue of the time. Bitsa (the present lot) shows the scene at Bitsevsky Park on the outskirts of Moscow, where, in the late 1980s, the authorities allowed a spontaneous market for handicrafts and tourist painting a la Montmatre, which unexpectedly became a symbol of economic freedom. The artists of the underground ironically identified themselves as ‘black market entrepreneurs' operating at precisely this location, and held a number of exhibition actions there. Some of the faces on these paintings are portraits. For example, the man in the hooded jacket on the right in Manezh is the collector Leonid Talochkin.
    In these paintings, Gorokhovsky captures a unique moment in history, at which the interest in art was at an all-time high; the crowds on these paintings have all come to see neo-avantgardist exhibitions. Both this theme and Gorokhovsky's medium of choice (documentary photography) are inextricable from the legendary and critical period of ‘perestroika and glasnost.'
    Dr Ekaterina Degot



Oil on canvas.
100.7 x 81 cm. (40 x 31 7/8 in).
Signed and dated ‘E.Gorokhovsky 87 [in Cyrillic]’ lower right.

£30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for £24,500

Important Contemporary Russian Art–Property from a Foundation

28 Feb 2008, 6pm