It seems that in the past few weeks, Russia has been in the headlines for reasons that leave more to be desired. Stepping into the global conversation this month, Russia’s two greatest cultural institutions – the ballet and the avant-garde – picked up where diplomacy left off.
On July 16th, the Tate Modern opened Malevich: Revolutionary Of Russian Art – the artist’s first retrospective in years, and the first one ever to take place on British soil. The Tate was able to accomplish the herculean task of pulling together works spanning 30 years of Kazimir Malevich’s career from a variety of public and private collections – from early figurative paintings of Russian peasants and religious scenes, to suprematism, and back to figurativism again. The Black Square – its 1923 version – is at the heart of the show, which includes a recreation of the legendary 0,10 Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings from 1915, where the first Black Square was famously shown hanging across the corner of a room along with works by Vladimir Tatlin, Liubov Popova, Ivan Puni, and others. 0,10 was reenacted from a single precious black and white photograph documenting the exhibition in Marsovo Pole, Petrograd (present day St. Petersburg) almost 100 years ago. The British press has been calling Malevich one of the best exhibits of the year, and we can definitely agree. It should be noted that the Tate has been consistent with its commitment to support Russian art, starting with its Russian and Eastern European Acquisitions committee of which Baibakov Art Projects’ Maria Baibakova is a member.
Despite these precarious times in US – Russian foreign relations, an evening to celebrate David Hallberg, the Bolshoi ballet’s first American principle dancer, held on July 17th at the Lincoln Center, provided a common ground for celebration of the arts.
For the first time in history, The Bolshoi – one of Russia’s most celebrated cultural institutions – has brought not only its ballet troupe, but also its Opera, Chorus and Orchestra, for a two – week long series of performances at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
The 32-year old Hallberg has spent three years dancing with the Bolshoi after being invited to join the troupe by Sergei Filin, its Director. Needless to say, those three years, marked by the acid attack on Filin and the following controversy surrounding the Bolshoi, were not easy for the South Dakota – born, Arizona – raised Hallberg. But he came out of them as a stronger dancer, advancing dramatically and technically, which was evident in his stellar performance as Prince Sigfried in that night’s Swan Lake, which he gave alongside the Bolshoi prima Svetlana Zakharova.
Following a three – hour performance at the at the David H. Koch Theater, the evening continued with dinner at the Lincoln Ristorante, organized by Lincoln Center Global and hosted by by our very own Baibakova, alongside co-chairs and global philanthropists of Russian descent Nasiba Adilova, Miroslava Duma, Anna Nikolaevsky, Yana Peel, and Inga Rubinstein. Full disclosure: Baibakov Art Projects serves in an advisory capacity to Lincoln Center Global, the consulting arm of Lincoln Center that looks beyond the campus in New York City, propelling cultural development and advising artistic pioneers around the world – and we couldn’t be more proud.
The dinner, attended by guests ranging from the Russian artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov to curator Neville Wakefield, collectors Phil and Shelley Aarons, curator of the Whitney Museum Scott Rothkopf (whose current Jeff Koons retrospective we just love), dealer Jeffrey Deitch, to Belarusian Supermodel Maryna Lynchuk – was a home-coming for Hallberg, who continues to dance with the American Ballet Theatre through his Bolshoi engagement. That’s some Russian – American exchange we wish there was more of.