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By Culturekiosque Staff

LONDON, 18 AUGUST 2010 — Christie’s will present a special loan exhibition, Treasures of Kazakhstan – Exhibition of Kazakh and Russian Art from the Kasteev Museum and a Distinguished Kazakh Private Collection at its headquarters in London from 1 - 8 September 2010. This selection of masterpieces of Kazakh and Russian art of the twentieth century will enable visitors to discover artistic developments that have taken place in Kazakhstan over the last 80 years. 75 major works that have never before been exhibited outside Kazakhstan will be shown, including important works from the museum’s permanent collection, complimented by works from a private collection. In celebration of its 75th anniversary the museum is currently undergoing refurbishment. All the works will be returned to the Museum following the exhibition and will be available for public viewing in the newly opened museum’s pavilions in early 2011.

The Kasteev State Museum of Arts in Almaty was founded in 1935 and renamed after the renowned Kazakh artist Abylkhan Kasteev in 1984. Today it is the largest museum in Central Asian region renamed in1984 after the most renowned Kazakh artist Abilkhan Kasteev (1904  - 1973). Over 200 works, transferred from the State Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Museum, the Hermitage and Russian Museum as part of the cultural exchange program among the Soviet Republics in the 1930s, formed the foundation of the museum’s collection. For example, one of the highlights of the present exhibition Abstract Composition by a Russian avant-garde artist Olga Rozanova formerly belonged to State Tretyakov Gallery and became part of the Kasteev Museum’s collection in 1936. Later the curators of the Kasteev Museum acquired paintings directly from artists’ studios, exhibitions and from the private collections of a large number of people who had settled in Almaty. The renowned Still life by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin was acquired from a German collector formerly based in Leningrad, who moved to Almaty at the beginning of the Second World War.

The exhibition includes masterpieces by renowned Kazakh artists Abilkhan Kasteev, Moldakhmet Kenbayev, Salikhitdin Aitbayev, Zhanatay Shardenov and Sergei Kalmikov. Among outstanding examples of Russian art are paintings by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Zinaida Serebriakova, Robert Falk and Pavel Filonov.

The visual language of the artists working in the 1960s and, later, a movement named after the decade, "shestidesyatniki" ("1960"), sharply contrasted with the established classic realist painting style of the time. This movement took shape with Salikhitdin Aitbayev’s (1923 - 1989) Happiness, which was exhibited in 1966 at the First Republican Youth Exhibition and became an emblem of this new group of artists searching for a national form. Its artistic terms, which became inseparable from the direction of the Kazakh national school of painting, were flatness, monumentality of form, unity of colour and drawing, and symbolism.

The museum’s collection, as well as Kazakh art in general, was hugely informed by the geographical remoteness from the Soviet ideological centre Moscow. From the 1930s through to the 1950s, even the slightest departure from the standards of the official Socialist Realist style was considered a political crime and could result in the artist’s imprisonment. In the peripheral Almaty, artists could express themselves and experiment more freely.  Moreover, progressive artists were often exiled from Moscow and Leningrad to Kazakhstan. Sergei Kalmikov and Pavel Zaltsman both first came to Almaty as theatre designers, but decided to remain there until the end of their lives.

Open to the public each day from 9am to 4:30pm, Treasures of Kazakhstan will be on view in Christies main rooms in London. Admission is free.

Treasures of Kazakhstan
1 - 8 September 2010 
8 King Street
St. James’s

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