Dialogues – The 60s Generation: Lydia Masterkova/Evgenii Rukhin

Oct 13, 2018 - Mar 17, 2019
Dodge Wing Lower Level

This exhibition is the first in a series that pairs artists who shared a common history, but whose careers have not been served by histories of unofficial art outside Russia. Each artist was extremely prominent in dissident circles: Masterkova in Moscow and Rukhin in Leningrad. Lydia Masterkova (1929-2002) was associated with the Lianozovo group of artists and writers who gathered, and sometimes lived, on the outskirts of Moscow in what had been a gulag (labor camp) for women. Her abstract paintings are most often shown together with those of her husband, Vladimir Nemukhin. Yet, in her attention to painterly facture, enhanced by layers of collaged materials often with legible histories (fragments of chasubles, antique lace, and other fabrics), she responded to the shared legacy of abstract painting in Russia more in the manner of Rukhin than other Lianozovo artists.

Evgenii Rukhin (1943-1976) was a major artist working in Leningrad and one of the figures closest to Norton Dodge, who was an avid collector of both artists’ work. His paintings often incorporated the wording of official decrees, street signage, and debris, together with traces of religious imagery. In this respect, for Rukhin as for Masterkova, abstract painting retained an appeal not only as a signal of personal independence and avant-garde inheritance. Their paintings betray allusive layers of Russia’s cultural past that bind them to their time and place.

Composed of major paintings by both artists, this exhibition also includes a group of works on paper by others associated with the 1960s as a generation that has indelibly shaped our understanding of Russia’s unofficial art world.

Curated by Jane A. Sharp, Research Curator for Soviet Nonconformist Art, and Julia Tulovsky, Curator for Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art

The exhibition is made possible by the Avenir Foundation Endowment Fund.

Lydia Alekseevna Masterkova

Composition, 1968

Oil and fabric on canvas

43 5/16 × 39 3/16 in. (110 × 99.5 cm)

Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union

D05245

Photo Peter Jacobs