Red Horizon: Contemporary Art and Photography in the USSR and Russia, 1960-2010

Columbus Dispatch review

Coinciding with the centennial of the 1917 Russian Revolution, Columbus Museum of Art presents Red Horizon: Contemporary Art and Photography in the USSR and Russia, 1960-2010, on view June 15 through September 24, 2017. This timely exhibition is drawn from two facets of Neil K. Rector’s world-class art collection: Soviet and Russian photography from the 1970s to the early 1990s, and the work of Moscow-based unofficial artists who came to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. Combining more than 300 works from these two aspects of the collection, Red Horizon offers fresh perspective on the art and life of this period, and suggests how creativity and critical thinking manifest themselves under the most difficult social and ideological circumstances.

“The Museum is honored to have organized the first-ever presentation of this renowned collection of postwar Soviet and Russian art,” said Executive Director Nannette V. Maciejunes. “Neil Rector epitomizes the important role that Columbus-based art collectors and patrons are playing both in the international and local arts landscape.”

Red Horizon looks at the period shortly after Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953 until the late 1980s and beyond, when artists attempted to represent the everyday realities of the USSR and Russia. The exhibition is organized around four thematic sections, each of which mixes a variety of styles and media, including Pop and Conceptual art, documentary photography, Surrealism and abstraction. All of them explore the gap between government-sanctioned orthodoxies and life as it was.

The works in the first section, Folk and Mass, address the complex notion of “the people,” represented alternatively as a collection of individuals and as an ideological abstraction. Return of the Repressed looks at how artists adopted, often at great personal risk, the styles of the early twentieth-century Russian avant-garde and other modernist styles in defiance of Soviet aesthetics. This section also demonstrates that some turned an equally critical eye on the visual language of American consumerism. The section Heroes, Leaders, Gods adapts the title of a painting by Alexander Kosolapov, and includes work that manipulates symbols of the state, often with a mix of satire and nostalgia. Finally, as its title would suggest, the section Landscape and Memory shows the emotional power invested in the landscape despite, or because of, the artists’ displacement.

Among the artists included are Gennady Bodrov, Eric Bulatov, Andrey Chezhin, Ivan Chuikov, Vladimir Filonov, Sergei Gitman, Eduard Gladkov, Farit Gubaev, Laura Ilyina, Francisco Infante, , Ilya Kabakov, Komar & Melamid, Alexander Kosolapov, Sergey Kozhemyakin, Nikolai Kulebiakin, Vladimir Kuprianov. Mikhail Ladeishikov, Igor Lagunov, Alexander Lapin, Sergey Leontiev, Evgeny Likhosherst, Boris Mikhalevkin, Igor Moukhin, Irina Nakhova, Vladimir Nemukhin, Victor Pivovarov, Oleg Poleshuk, Yuri Rybtchinski, Igor Savchenko, Valery Shchekoldin, Mark Shteinbock, Victor Shurov, Leonid Sokov, Vladimir Syomin, Alexander Slussarev, Boris Smelov, Eduard Steinberg, Vyatcheslav Tarnovetsky, Alexey Titarenko, Oleg Tselkov, Oleg Vassiliev, Rifkhat Yakupov, Vladimir Yankilevsky, and Marina Yurchenko.

Red Horizon will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue by the Columbus Museum of Art and distributed by RAM. The publication is edited by the exhibition curators, Tyler Cann, Curator of Contemporary Art, and Drew Sawyer, William J. and Sarah Ross Soter Associate Curator of Photography, Columbus Museum of Art. The catalogue includes texts by the curators, as well as Matthew Jesse Jackson, Myroslava Mudrak, Ksenia Nouril, and Gleb Tsipursky.