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Anatoly Zverev


Soviet Nonconformist Art from A to Z


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Dear visitors! Note that the AZ Museum will be closed from April 1 due to the exposition change.


Parallel Universes. Abstraction to Artifact. Collection of Natalia Opaleva

March 3 – June 26, 2023
0 — 400 ₽

Marble Palace, Millionnaya St., 5/1, St. Petersburg


The State Russian Museum of Saint Petersburg is opening the exhibition project “Parallel Universes. Abstraction to Artifact”, displaying works by 36 artists of the 2nd half of the 20th century from the assembly of Natalia Opaleva, famous collector and the CEO of the AZ Museum (Museum of Anatoly Zverev). More than 200 paintings and graphic works of the underground artists of the 1960s – 1980s will be displayed at the Marble Palace: works by Anatoly Zverev, Dmitriy Plavinskiy, Dmitriy Krasnopevtsev, Oleg Tselkov, Lidia Masterkova, Ernst Neizvestniy and others.

Almost all of these authors, who further became the prominent figures of the 2nd half of the 20th century, started their careers in the “Thaw” epoch. At the exhibition, artworks of the earlier period of the Unofficial art movement give a complete picture of the time, even though some pieces differ greatly in style.

“Actually, collectors and museums are close relatives. They have common roots, genes, goals and objectives. Love to collect, care about “health” of an art piece, its happiness now and in future are the essential qualities of a collector, whether it’s a museum or one person”, — states Eugenia Petrova, Deputy director of the Russian Museum.

The collection of Natalia Opaleva started as a mono assembly with artworks by Anatoly Zverev. Though today, as 20 years have passed, it consists of more than 2,5 thousand art pieces not only by Moscow unofficial artists, but by famous Leningrad artists as well — Eugeniy Mikhnov-Voytenko, Eugeniy Rukhin, Gleb Bogomolov, Vladimir Sterligov.

Natalia Opaleva, CEO of the AZ Museum, collector:
“The exhibition “Parallel Universes” will feature the highlights of my collection. There’s a legend about each piece, as numerous facts have accumulated over 50-60 years of their existence: all the provenance details, from the story of their creation to how they appeared in my collection… While selecting works for the exhibition, we decided to focus on abstraction as the exposition core. However, early period of the so-called Unofficial art movement was marked with the dominant role of abstraction, and so many Sixtiers went through this stylistic approach on the way to their own artistic methods. And only a few devoted their entire life to abstraction.”

Alexander Borovsky, Head of the Russian Museum Department of the Newest Artistic Directions:
“Right away Natalia Opaleva determined the rule to collect only works by the artists who are emotionally close to her. Undoubtedly, it was important for her to show a personalistic emotional beginning.
As a result, we reveal the author’s representation of artistic process. It is valuable not in its entirety, but by some emerging couplings, configurations, counterpoints. And in this regard, the significance of the works for the collection is defined not by the artist’s place in the established, generally accepted hierarchy, but by the ability of his art to generate worldview, stylistic, or even thematic connections.

The “fabric” of the collection allows us to pull out other meaningful “threads”. As already mentioned, the artworks are selected for the collection on the base of their affinity. So, new relationships are still going to be formed, new plots will be played out. Of course, on condition of the audience involvement.”

Mikhail Kamensky, art historian:
“The assembly today gives a full idea not only about the era of nonconformism, but also obviously goes beyond the chronological framework of the 1960s-1980s, flowing into our days. This, in my opinion, is the most important creative result and realizing of ambitions of Natalia Opaleva who lives in accord with the collecting precepts of George Costakis. Thanks to the contemporary part of his collection, Costakis was able to demonstrate the genesis of the Russian avant-garde movement from the first pictorial experiments of the early twentieth century to the artistic searches of the nonconformists.”

The title of the exhibition “Parallel Universes. Abstraction to Artifact” sets the exposition vector. Plastic solution of the space, designed by Anatoly Golyshev, reproduces the image of an ark with art pieces, sailing by the visionary Milky Way. The axis of the construction is composed by seven exhibition halls that feature the finest art pieces from the collection. The exposition merges with the media installations by Platon Infante , music by the Avant-guard composer Nikolay Karetnikov and a documentary about the “Thaw” epoch (filmed by the AZ Museum).

The collection of Natalia Opaleva is considered to be one of the most significant in contemporary Russia. It was masterfully presented at the Franco Zeffirelli Foundation (2018) in Florence and at the West wing of the New Tretyakov (2019).

Authors of the project
AZ Museum:
CEO of the AZ Museum Natalia Opaleva
Art director of the exhibition Anatoly Golyshev
Media artist Platon Infante
Project coordinator Natalia Volkova

Russian Museum:
President of the Russian Museum Vladimir Gusev
Deputy director of the Russian Museum Evgenia Petrova
Head of the Russian Museum Department of the Newest Artistic Directions Alexander Borovsky
Head of the Russian Museum Department of Exhibition Design Marina Dynay
Specialist of the Russian Museum Publishing Department Alina Matveeva


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