Columbia University in the City of New York

The Harriman Institute Presents

Natalya Nesterova: The Creative Journey

Selections from the Kolodzei Art Foundation

Natalya Nesterova Man, 2021. Oil on canvas , 20 x 16 in. Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art, Kolodzei Art Foundation


Monday–Friday, 9:00 AM–5:00 PM
January 16, 2024 through March 8, 2024


Harriman Institute Atrium
420 W 118th St, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10027

Visitor Information

All non-Columbia visitors must meet the primary vaccination series mandate.

No registration or tickets required.

About the Exhibit

This exhibition features a selection of paintings by the prominent artist Natalya Nesterova (1944-2022), which offers a glimpse into her creative process and celebrates her artistic journey. Drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, including French modernism and works of the primitivist painter Niko Pirosmanishvili, Nesterova painted in a realistic manner, combining elements of theater and fantasy. She enjoyed the process of painting, the interplay of dynamic intensity of colors, relief, layers, texture, and surface. Her paintings are contemplative and symbolic, not bound to a particular historical period. Nesterova enjoyed painting in solitude, with books and playing cards as her companions in the creative process. While working and living in New York, she enjoyed the company of her friends.

Nesterova wrote about her artistic journey: “I work quite a lot, probably because I find the activity soothing; you forget about your misfortunes, or get annoyed at the fruits of seemingly fruitless work, or sink into thoughts of dear friends no longer with you. I try not to lose my face, though these days I can’t always recognize it in the mirror, and all the same, I want to preserve something I don’t have to be ashamed of. If I impart at least some joy to people, or if I rouse their interest, or annoy someone, then at least it means that I have touched their hearts, and it is for that, perhaps, that an artist works.”

An opening reception will take place on Tuesday, January 23rd. Learn more >


About the Artist

Natalya Nesterova (born in 1944 in Moscow; died in 2022 in New York).

Over the years Nesterova divided her life between Moscow and New York. She recollected about her first visit: “For a long time now, I have made annual trips to France and America, the latter having become a second home to me. I first visited New York in 1988 and was left stunned and bewildered. Since then, whenever I fly to New York and see Manhattan rising in front of me from the car window, I think ‘I’m home.’ Years have passed by, many friends have passed on, the city has changed, the Twin Towers have fallen – to this day, I wipe away tears whenever I pass the spot where they used to stand… New York has become something of a phantom for me, appearing and disappearing, bringing elation and desperation.”

Nesterova was a full-fledged Academician of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts. In 1968, she graduated from the SurikovArt Institute. Nesterova was a professor of Painting at the Russian Academy of Theater Arts in Moscow. She was the recipient of the Russian National Award in Fine Arts. Nesterova participated in over a hundred solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world, including The National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC), The State Russian Museum (St. Petersburg), and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Canada). Her works are in many public collections, including the Solomon Guggenheim Museum (New York), The National Museum of Women in the Arts(Washington, DC), The Jewish Museum (New York), The State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow), The State Russian Museum (St. Petersburg), The Moscow Museum of Modern Art, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Canada), Museum ofContemporary Art (Seoul), Ludwig Forum Museum for International Art (Aachen), Zimmerli Art Museum (New Jersey) andKolodzei Art Foundation.


About the Kolodzei Art Foundation

The Kolodzei Art Foundation, Inc., a US-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public foundation started in 1991, organizes exhibitions and cultural exchanges in museums and cultural centers in the United States, Europe, and other countries, often utilizing the considerable resources of the Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art and publishes books. The Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art consists of over 7,000 works, including paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photography, digital and kinetic art, video, and interactive installations, by more than 300 artists from Russia, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union.  Explore more information >