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Book Review

Russian Fine Art
A Quarterly from EdiPresse-KonLiga
Charles Borden

For two years now, EdiPresse-KoneLiga, one of Russias largest magazine publishers, has produced an elegant quarterly publication, Russkoye Iskusstvo (Russian Art). Russkoye Iskusstvo is a thick, 170-page journal that is a joy to hold and open. Produced on heavy, art quality, matte-finished paper, with sharp, intense color reproductions and photographs of artworks, illustrations, and locations, this is clearly a work of love of the publisher. When I first saw Russkoye Iskusstvo, I was also surprised to see that it had been printed in Russia; since many quality publications are printed outside of the country.

The first issue of an English edition, Russian Fine Art, will be available about October 1. This is the English version of Volume III/2005 of Russkoye Iskusstvo, which focused on the Russian art and artists and their relationship with Switzerland. Switzerland was discovered by Nikolai Karamzin in 1789; his Notes of a Russian Traveller was influential on the Russian view of Europe at that time. In the more than 200 years since Karamzins visit, more than 60 Russian artists have been drawn to the country. It became home to many Russian exile artists, first from those of the Avant-Garde working in Germany at the beginning of the First World War and then from the Revolution.

This first English edition of Russian Fine Art provides considerable coverage of the Petit Palais Museum of Modern Art in Geneva, which holds a large collection of artists including Aleksandr Arkhipenko, Naum Aronson, Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Marevna, Chaim Soutine, Osip Zadkin, Marc Chagall, and Nikolai Tarkhov. Baron Eduard Aleksandrovich von Faltz-Fein also plays a large role in this issue. A descendent of the Yepanchin family, the Baron has accumulated a large collection of Russian art and other treasures at his home in Switzerland, Villa Askaniya-Nova. The wealthy Baron von Faltz-Fein has also spearheaded many philanthropic efforts and has seen to the return of a great number of works of art and historic archives to Russia.

This issue also contains the interesting history of the family and works of art that are held by the second family of Tsar Alexander II, who was assassinated with a bomb in March 1881. After his death, the Emperors second wife, Serene Princess Yekaterina fled Russia with her family taking with her to Nice relics, art, and letters. Today her descendent, Prince Georg Yurevsky, lives in Switzerland, and like other descendents of Russian aristocrats returns regularly to Russia.

I found most interesting the thread of information through several articles about Russian artists of the European Avant-Garde of the late 19th and early 20th century who worked in Berlin, Munich (the German Athens), Paris, and also Switzerland. As Russians, some of these artists, including Aleksei Yavlensky and Marianna Verevkina, fled to Switzerland at the beginning of the First World War.

Taken as a whole, this edition provides an interesting profile of Russian art, and an interesting lesson in both European history and art. Russian Fine Art is planned as a quarterly, each English edition to follow the publication of the Russian Russkoye Iskusstvo.

Russian Fine Art magazine will be available at the newsstands in the main international hotels like Metropol, Balchug, National, Radisson and others. It will also be on sale at newsstands in the center of Moscow (on Tverskaya street), in the main bookshops, at Tretiakovskaya Gallery and Pushkins Museum. Russian Fine Art will be also distributed at The Moscow World Fine Art Fair (September 20-26, at the Manege), and XIX Russian Antique Salon (October 22-30, at the Central House of Artists).

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