Home to the iconic Red Square, the distinct patterned domes of Saint Basil's Cathedral, the State Historical Museum, and the Kremlin, Moscow is a cultural and political powerhouse with a diverse art scene. The city is filled with prestigious arts institutions such as the Pushkin State Museum of Fine art, the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, and the Bolshoi Theatre. It has a long history of art patronage and links to Russian modern masters such as Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall, Kazimir Malevich, and even Henri Matisse.Read More
As Russia's historic capital, a centre of Russian and European culture, and one of the world's largest urban economies, numerous major private collectors, dealers, and contemporary art institutions are to be found in Moscow. Coming out of a static age of uniform traditional art centred around Socialist Realism and propaganda, the post-Soviet-era Moscow art scene has become increasingly diverse and international.
Moscow plays host to a variety of contemporary art galleries, from the more Russian- and Moscow-oriented National Centre for Contemporary arts, Winzavod, RuArts, and the Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography, to the more international art spaces such as Roman Abramovich's Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture, Solyanka State Gallery, Galerie Iragui, and the Gary Tatintsian Gallery. Launched in 2010 and held annually since 2014, the Cosmoscow International Contemporary Art Fair brings together Russian and international artists, collectors, and galleries, allowing for greater exposure of up-and-coming Russian artists to the international art scene and dialogue between international artists and the Moscow art world.
Beyond the influence of the state and art collectors, there are a growing number of independent artist-run spaces on the fringes of the Moscow art world. Spaces such as Electrozavod, APXIV, and Proekt Fabrika, based in former industrial buildings, provide opportunities for up-and-coming artists. Apartments transformed into exhibition spaces for budding contemporary artists without a place to show continue the tradition of kvartirnik (apartment shows) that sustained non-conformist art in the Soviet era.
Moscow's streets also boast a significant number of large-scale murals, and the city hosts the street-art Biennale Artmossphere and street-art festival LGZ.
The curators have taken unusual steps to make space for contradiction and incoherence.
The most memorable conversation I had during the Cosmoscow international contemporary art fair, which opened on 9 September and ran through the weekend, was with a cab driver in the early hours of the morning after the preview soiree on 8 September. Like so many Muscovites, Arshak originally hailed from a peripheral republic of the former...