Decades of Art Collecting
A large part of the collection consists of paintings by Eastern and Western European artists and a substantial number of works by Russian modernists. The moderate means at their disposal and difficulties in tracing works of interest did not prevent the family from accumulating a modest, yet very fine collection. From its inception, it was the founder’s policy to share their works of art with the widest public possible, inspired by the sheer passion for art and the deep curiosity it evokes.
By the early 1950s, the collection consisted of approximately 60 works by various European and Russian artists. At this early stage it was composed mainly of graphic art, lithographs and watercolors: Proun (1924) by Eliezer (El) M. Lissitzky and Abstract Composition (1916) by Nadezhda Udaltsova, with minor oil paintings by a handful of Russian artists, such as Lyubov Popova’s Collage Portrait (1915) and Vera E. Pestel’s Collage with Blue Pot (1916), which were quite unknown to the broad public at the time.
In the beginning of the 1960s, individual works by important artists were considered. In time, several of these works were incorporated into the collection. In the mid-1960s the family came into possession of several major oil paintings, including Tropical Forest (1908) by Henri J. F. Rousseau, Flower Bouquet (c. 1930) by Natalia Goncharova, Costume for a Woman (1921) by Alexandra A. Ekster ,and Figure (1930) by Joan F. Miró. In the late 1960s the family acquired works by still-unknown artists such as Nikolai Pirosmani-Shvili (Farmer with a Bull, circa 1916), Sergei Y. Senkin (Abstract Composition, 1921), and Alexander A. Vesnin (Suprematist Composition, circa 1918), among other artists that became known in the Western art scene only in the late 1980s.
One can find traces of the political environment that eventually led each work to its final destination. It was not an easy task to collect works of art in the mid-20th century, when the political and social setting was uncertain and life was not as bright as one could imagine. For those given the task of finding suitable works, the investment in tracing the paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures became their mission. There was a need to adopt a learning process in order to understand the essentials of art in general and of the specific works purchased in particular. Today the family is proud to be able to fulfill the founders’ will and is eager to pass on this duty to its future generations.