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February 22, 2007

Anna Frants in St Petersburg

Manhattan artist and gallerist Anna Frants has held her first "apartment exhibition" in St Petersburg: a presentation of American artists. In Russian everyone is still half-convinced that the best art is to be found in apartments, and they're half-right, I think.

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Works of Art


  • Dmitri Krasnopevtsev, Still-Life, 1940s. A beautiful early still-life; the shell foreshadows motifs of Krasnopevtsev's mature work. Silvery chiaroscuro, immaculate realism. Provenance: the family of the artist.

  • Irina Zatulovskaya, Umbrellas, 2005. An intriguing, almost whimsical image, rooted and made serious by the compact monumentality of the chosen format and the technique, oil on rusting iron.

  • Yuri Zharkikh, Self-Portrait, 1975. A large, expressionistic canvas by one of the most distinctive of the 70s Nonconformists. Zharkikh, a victim of the 1974 "Bulldozer" show, seems to reference icon-painting. He portrays himself as a Christ-like figure, his luminous image emerging from a rich and inventive painterly surface.

  • Georgi Rublev, Female Nude. Rublev has emerged as one of the most impressive artists of the period of the Veliki Perelom (Great Breakthrough), 1927-37. This is an early work, probably dating from the late 1920s.

  • Dmitri Plavinski, untitled etching, 1970s. A beautiful fantasy by one of the most sought-after of contemporary Russian artists. Sourced from a major diplomatic/European aristocratic family who purchased from the artist in the 70s. Signed lower right.

  • Natalia Nesterova, The City P, 2005. A hermetic lyricism: The artist's paean to one of the great artistic cities.

  • Rostislav Lebedev's Red Interior dates from the 1970s. A sumptuous mixed-media work incorporating a concrete block into the mixed abstract and figurative imagery; the technique appears to mix oil and household gloss paints. A classic work of prime-period Non-conformism.

  • Vitali Komar, Cleaning Lady, 1960s. A rare early work by Komar, shown at his first joint show with Alex Melamid, held at the Bluebird Cafe in Moscow. A rare work and enigmatic image, perhaps part of the series titled Retrospectivism.

  • Dmitri Nalbandyan, Portrait of Stalin, ca. 1950 (pencil on paper, in artist's original frame). Nalbandyan came to exemplify the "genre of the leader" in Soviet art. This classic image of Stalin was sourced from the artist's studio in the 1980s.

  • Isaak Izraelevich Brodsky, A Meeting of the Revolutionary Military Council, ca. 1925 (oil on canvas, 89 x 122 cm). A rare early revolutionary painting by Brodsky (possibly unique on the private market): a characteristically detailed ceremonial record of a meeting chaired by People's Commissar Kliment Voroshilov. Many of the people portrayed in this painting were subsequently repressed as "Enemies of the People" and the work was hidden from the 1930s onwards.

  • Three against Hitler. A Window of TASS from 1945, hand printed through hand-cut stencils. Not to be confused with a mass-produced poster: very vibrant, very rare, by the Soviet Union's most brilliant satirical artists.

  • Mariya Nesterova, USSR, 1930s (oil and tempera on board, 94 x 66 cm). An extraordinary evocation in the style of the Palekh ministure of some of the extravagant projects of the 1930s - the Palace of the Soviets (never built), the giant Maksim Gorky plane (it crashed on its first flight), the new riverboats, combine harvesters.