Catching up on this excellent Mary Lane story from the Wall Street Journal about Russian Realism and the role Alexey Ananiev is playing in that market. It is a good reminder of the power of individual collectors to define works worth treasuring. Soviet Realism would hardly seem to have been a genre that would last. Yet here is a thriving market and the beginnings of what might be a reasonable argument for the value of the work:
The first painting I bought was “A Wedding” by Yuri Kugach, which I now display in my Institute of Russian Realist Art in Moscow with 500 other works. A friend had just introduced me to the artist, and I liked it; I paid around $400,000. He was a well-known Soviet realist artist born in 1917, but the work is from 2000.”At the Start” by Kirill Kustodiyev 1933 is in the show, and is one I bought through my art agent about a year ago. I like the work because its in line with how mass sports were organized in the 1930s.
You can like auctions, you can hate them, but the truth is that the best Soviet works in terms of quality are at the auctions, and you have to live with that. We now have local auction houses in Moscow that are perpetually focusing on this period of art. I bought “A Parachute Jump” by Georgy Nissky and “Sportswoman Tying a Ribbon” by Alexander Deyneka, both in the show, from the Moscow auction house Sovcom. […] Deyneka’s work, from the 1950s, cost about $1 million. I am not buying art that’s worth millions of dollars.
For me, this is a hobby that might become profitable, but I don’t put any investment emphasis in this. […] In several years, this will be a gold mine, but right now I collect to promote this period and preserve this tradition. Part of my reason for doing this is out of duty, so that young people won’t forget our history: It’s much more important for them to know their own national and historic heritage than to pick up a type of art that doesn’t belong to the country. And, hey, even my three sons like to bring their girlfriends to see my collection.