Russian art and artistic life are mainly known for the imperial architecture, the classic music and literature and the Soviet modern art. More, Russia is often seen as a country where contemporary culture doesn’t exist. It couldn’t be more wrong. Indeed the Russian contemporary artistic life is rich, diversified and of high quality! However it’s true that Russian contemporary is most of the time a bit hidden. Why? First because it rarely (and very sadly) goes out of the country due to a clichés and low interest from foreigners (bad). Second because Russian contemporary art isn’t about gigantism or pop art (yes I despised Jeff Koons). But missing Russian contemporary art is missing what Russia really is nowadays and it’s staying on the surface of a buzzing society.
Of course, to better know the Russian contemporary art, you can go in well-known museums and galleries. Among them, the best are the Garage Museum and Winzavod gallery in Moscow, and the Erarta Museum of St Petersburg!
Starting with the Erarta Museum in St Petersburg, because this one is my favorite (and trust me I know about art). The Erarta Museum is the most important museum of contemporary art in Russia despite being opened in 2010. It displays more than 2300 objects d’art. But to me the most important is its philosophy. Indeed, the philosophy of the Museum is to combine the elements of the participation of the visitor with the preference given to talented artists over popular artists. Finally a museum of contemporary art that gives the way to talent over popularity!
In Moscow the two museums that deal with contemporary art are the Garage Museum and the Winzavod gallery. The first one is a well-known and good quality museum in the heart of Gorky Park. It’s rather small but often has good exhibitions. Even if, to be honest, you need to be careful when choosing as some of them are more modern art than contemporary and so a bit… different.
The Winzavod gallery is different (and free). It exhibits contemporary art project in a big industrial building. You’ll therefore meet young artists, often a bit underground and discover many styles and personalities!
But if you want to discover the Russian contemporary art, the best remains to explore, walk by the streets, go to gallery openings and find the doors to the underground. Good luck!
Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!