A large part of the collection consists of paintings by European artists, with a particular emphasis on Russian Modernism. It developed over time modestly but purposefully. By the early 1950s, M.T Abraham had acquired nearly 60 works, composed mainly of graphic art, lithographs and watercolors. Significant works at this stage include Proun (1924) by El Lissitzky and Abstract Composition (1916) by Nadezhda Udaltsova, as well as Lyubov Popova’s Collage Portrait (1915) and Vera E. Pestel’s Collage with Blue Pot (1916), artists who were nearly unknown to the general public at the time.
By the beginning of the 1960s, notable works by more significant artists were incorporated into the collection, 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 Miró. In the late 1960s, works by lesser-known 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). The significance of their contributions to the history of modern art would become known in the West art only later in the 1980s.
The political backdrop to Abraham’s collecting activities is important. Given the turmoil of war and social unrest at mid-century, it was not an easy task to collect works of art, given the uncertainty of regional and international stability. There was also a learning curve in terms of where to look for the best works and how to evaluate their worthiness. A growing circle of consultants and trusted advisors were key to a more purposeful approach to acquisitions. Today, the Foundation is proud to continue this work on Abraham’s behalf, with an eye towards the importance of his example and legacy for future generations.