Please join us for a gallery talk with Natalia Kolodzei, curator and art historian, on our current exhibition “Oleg Vassiliev: Metro Series & Selected Works on Paper from the Kolodzei Art Foundation” featuring linocuts from the late 1950s and early 1960s and selected drawings and collages by prominent Russian-American artist Oleg Vassiliev (1931-2013). Kolodzei will discuss works in this exhibition as well as the history of Russian print making.
Natalia Kolodzei, an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts, is a curator and art historian specializing on the art of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Kolodzei is also Executive Director of the Kolodzei Art Foundation, and, along with Tatiana Kolodzei, owner of the Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art, containing over 7,000 pieces by over 300 artists from Russia and the former Soviet Union of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since 1991, Ms. Kolodzei has curated over fifty shows in the US, Europe and Russia, including: Oleg Vassiliev: Memory Speaks (Themes and Variations), the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow and the State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; Moscow-New York =Parallel Play, Concerning the Spiritual Tradition in Russian Art, From Non-Conformism to Feminisms: Russian Women Artists, and From Leningrad to St. Petersburg, Chelsea Art Museum, New York. In addition, she has contributed to several books and catalogues, including: Oleg Vassiliev: Memory Speaks (Themes and Variations), Palace Editions, 2004; Vadim Voinov. The State Hermitage under a Full Moon, the State Hermitage Museum; Olga Bulgakova, WAM, 2007; Art Constitution: the Illustrated Constitution of the Russian Federation; Alexander Sitnikov, WAM, 2007; Shimon Okshteyn: Dialogue with Objects, Palace Editions, 2007; Oleg Bourov, Musée Daubigny, Auvers-sur-Oise, France, 2000; and Yakov Vinkovetsky: Windows into the Spaces of Light, The State Institute of Art History, Moscow, 2001.
Oleg Vassiliev is regarded as a key member of the Nonconformist Art movement; rather than confining himself to the discussion of contemporary political and societal issues, Vassiliev’s work explores concepts reaching beyond questions of social order. Among his immediate influences are the lyrical realist landscape paintings of Isaac Levitan and Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist art. As the Russian artist Erik Bulatov puts it, Vassiliev’s painting “connects such disparate lines of development in Russian art as nineteenth-century realist painting, landscape painting in particular, and the avant-garde of the 1910s and 1920s.” Though he immigrated to the United States in 1990, Russia and Russian art continued to play an important role in Vassiliev’s work. Rather than reject past artistic experiments, Vassiliev embraced them, combining traditional artistic concepts with nonconformist ideas and influences from early 20th Century abstract art. The past and present seem to collide in his work, and this work, too, appears timeless—at once belonging to the past and the present. Linked to this idea of timelessness, is the idea of transitional space. Throughout his works, Vassiliev emphasizes the importance of memory. Individual memories, often the starting points of his work, become universal explorations of memory and the act of remembering.
Vassiliev was born in 1931 in Moscow, and lived and worked in New York. He died in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2013. He has been the recipient of numerous artistic awards and grants, including from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (1994 and 2002). In 1999, he was the first recipient of the “Liberty Prize.” His work has been displayed in museum exhibitions across the globe. His prominent solo museum exhibitions include Oleg Vassiliev: Memory Speaks (Themes and Variations) at The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow in 2004 and The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg in 2005;The Art of Oleg Vassiliev, The Museum of Russian Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2011; Oleg Vassiliev: Space and Light at the Zimmerli Art Museum, New Brunswick in 2014-2015.