Russian contemporary art market takes off

The appetite for Russian contemporary art is growing as an expanding class of wealthy Russians move from classic to more modern works, gallery owners at a major Madrid art fair said.

But while the majority of the art is being bought by Russians, interest from abroad is also rising as Russian artists become better known in the West, they added.

"There are very few people in Russia who have knowledge of contemporary art, still interest is growing and that could lead to more sales," said Daria Pyrkina, a professor at Moscow State University who selected the eight galleries taking part in "Focus Russia" at the ARCO contemporary art fair.

A series of 11 large black and white photos of dead monkeys with a price tag of 44,000 euros (59,500 dollars) and a large oil painting on cow skin of a young blonde woman with a long moustache costing 10,000 euros are among the Russian pieces up for sale at the five-day fair which wraps up Sunday.

Over 90 percent of buyers of Russian contemporary art are Russian speakers from the former Soviet Union, said William MacDougall, the co-director of the specialist Russian auction house MacDougall's.

"The Russian contemporary art market has been slower to recover since the global financial crisis than classical Russian art. But with international contemporary strong again, we expect Russian contemporary to follow," he said.

"Much Russian contemporary art is still very affordable, compared with Russian classic art and international contemporary, so it is being bought by the growing middle class as well as by the wealthy."

The London auction house sold 1.4 million pounds (1.6 million euros, 2.2 million dollars) in Russian contemporary art last year, compared to 1.5 million pounds in 2009.

Buyers outside of Russia have shown interest in works by Russian artists but they often balk at paying the same prices for their pieces as they would for items made by Western European artists, said Anna Luneva, the curator at Moscow's M&J Guelman Gallery which is selling the oil on cow skin painting.

"This is the main difficulty. Russian artists are very good, we often have to educate buyers on this point," she said.

Over the past decade several world-class galleries focused on contemporary art, such as RuArts, Stella Art and Marina Gisich, have opened in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which have helped boost the popularity of modern art.

In many cases the gallery owners are the wives or girlfriends of Russian tycoons and their involvement provides the contemporary art market with a mix of philanthropy, patronage and celebrity that makes it fashionable.

"I think this is really raising awareness in Russia of Russian contemporary art and fueling respect and curiosity for their own contemporary artists," said Sotheby's Russian art specialist Joanna Vickery.

The largest gallery, the Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture which opened in 2008 at a reconverted Soviet bus depot in Moscow, is owned by Russian heiress Dasha Zhukova, the girlfriend of Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich.

Its inauguration in 2008 featured a performance by British singer Amy Winehouse and it drew European aristocrats and powerful art dealers from New York and London.

"The scene is not big like in New York or London but there is a new generation of artists doing interesting works," said Evgeny Mitta, the director of Moscow gallery Peperworks.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor