Antiqua №2 2013
The second issue of Antiqua has been published. Its cover is decorated with the graduation from the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts sign, which belonged to P.Shilingovskiy. Read the story about the unique instruments of this artist on pages 92—99.
The issue opens with the words of Igor Tupalskiy, the publisher of this magazine: «I know about the antiques next to nothing, but I’m not ashamed to confess this at all— yes, I’m not an expert in this field. This is mainly connected with the fact that there’s hardly any available information on the subject. This knowledge is considered sacred and is spread within the guild of the implicated. The collectors and antiquarians’ community is the special world where the strangers and neofits are not very eagerly (or just not eagerly) let in. We based the strategy of the magazine on the intercommunication with people, that’s why a lot of room here is given to the stories told by experts. Obviously, we percept any unique and interesting item through its own and its owners’story. Even a skilled art historian sometimes can’t tell the audience about a thing better than its owner, who constructed their own emotional links between themselves and the object they have».
And the senior editor Mitya Kharshak’s column: «Unfortunately, Russia is a deathtrap for a collector. Historical cataclysms and cultivataed for dozens of years state scorn towards material objects turned into the elution of a huge layer of everyday-object culture. Fine arts were a bit more lucky, whereas the world of objects was almost completely ruined. The market is still being fulfilled with good old preserved items very and very slowly, and it’s mostly fulfilled with the things bought from the European auctions and antique markets. Local junk shops and antique salons havealmost run out of sources».
These are, of course, only the extracts from larger texts. And the photos of the main people of the magazine have been taken by the wonderful Saint-Peresburg photographer Alexey Alexeev in the technique of moist process — one of the first photo techniques of the middle of the XIX century. By the way, the story of Alexey’s works and the wonders of reconstructed by him historical photo processes can be read on pages 86—91.
Today the star of the issue is the prominent businessman and collector, the founder of the New Museum Aslan Chekhoev. «The first items of the collection mostly dealt with the period of so-called post-stalin’s underground, that’s between the late 1950-s and the 1980-s. These all were either completely or partly rejected artists — Weisberg, Krasnopevtsev. Later on, I started collecting the conceptualists and social art. In my understanding, art is a process, and you should understand if you participate in it or preserve it and keep its traditions. Keeping traditions is very important, but this way you’re not likely to contribute anything new, and I’m anyway interested in art as a process».
Next we’re moving on to the secrets of restoration and its ethics. Professor Yuriy Bobrov, the full member of Saint-Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts, the Doctor оf Art History, the leading restorer of icon panting, the head of the chair of restoration, the vice-rector at the Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in the name of I.Repin tells us about amazing discoveries and wonders of the profession: «The most difficult problem is, possibly, to understand where to stop. Modern documents define a restorer as a person who makes decisions. This definition hsa a typical European intellectual feature: a restorer isn’t a craftsman who removes the dark layer of boiled oil. The most responsible and difficult point about restoration is not technical work, although it’s of course significant, too, but particularly taking a decision of how much to clear and which layer is the most valuable. <…> The common law at uncovering the original is to uncover it where it’s survived. As for the spots where it hasn’t been preserved, later repainting was done and there’s no author’s layer under them, leaving the later layer is customary. However, this layer ought to be the earliest and best preserved of all, as there might be three or four layers. Besides that, it’s customary to preserve the later layers if they are artistically or historically valuable by themselves, the later inscriptions, for example».
We’re vey glad that the famous lawyer and a passionate collector Alexander Dobrovinskiy has started a regular column in the magazine. Ha was the first issue’s protagonist, and now, in the second issue, he’s telling the story of an item from his collection — the portrait of Marlene Dietrich by Man Ray. «She started a crazy affair with Alexandrov, and they preserved their relationship forever. Marlen often wrote to him, and came on his invitation to the USSR on tour in 1963. The Hollywood diva, the German, the sex-symbol in the USSR — that was unprecendented! And here Marlene Dietrich came to her lover. What could she gift the crowd favorite and the minion of fortune with if he had everything? Herself only, so she gave him a portrait of hers, drawn with ink, coal and gouache by the unknown in the USSR Man Ray».
The very well-known Moscow gallerist Ildar Galeev tells about the art market, completed projects and how the gallery works: «Art doesn’t obey any computations, diagrams, forecasts and analysis, because every creative process has periods when it is worth interest or not. The attitude to this or that painting is a subjective moment, very important to people. For example, only one person might like a real masterpiece, and its price will then not go high, but if two people fight for a canvas, especially if they happen to be Russians, and, as everybody knows, «Russians don’t surrender», the price may skyrocket. However, this isn’t an indicator at all.»
Next, Yuriy Molodkovets, the photographer for the State Hermitage, the famous Saint-Petersburg artist, curator and collector, tells us about his art collection and different occurrences connected with it: «I sighed heavily and said: «There’s nothing to be done, Volodya, I agree». He responded: «What with?» I said: «You have displayed them all, and I agree».
He decided I’d choose one of six works, and I understood that he was offering all the six works for one Ustyugov. Of course, quantitive measures played their role here, I decided my collection would be significantly extended. This time Volodya sighed heavily and agreed. We left each other with a reciprocate feeling that something unfair had happened».
One more professional expert who appears ot the pages of Antiqua is Kristina Berezovskaya, the head and curator of Saint-Petersburg KGallery: «It often occurs that, having started with classic names of Russian late XIX century painters, a collector gradually turns to World of Art and Jack of Diamonds, starts reading books, visiting museums and trying to understand what he has spent such a fortune on. The person becomes a hostage — in the finest sense of this word — of their interests. Every new purchase develops their art taste and knowledge».
Kristina is also one of the organizers of the Soviet Art auction in Saint-Petersburg, which was held the second time in November. Read the report on the auction and the most notable sales in our magazine.
This moment we are almost done with the half of the magazine dedicated to fine arts. Other fields of collecting are opened with an outstanding collection which consists of four generations of Dictators — that’s the name of a Studebaker model being in production between 1928 and 1937. Antiqua’s editor Pavel Ulyanov has interviewed the owner of the vintage cars Sergei Chikalev-Demidovskiy, the founder of the restoration workshop Retrotruck. «It happened that the latest Dictator of the year 1937 came to us last, and the first was the one of 1928. And, although the name Standart-6 changed into Dictator in 1927, this was just a name change, and a completely new car came out next, 1928 year. Dictator’s evolution is completely vivid with the example of the range we have».
Niki Lawrense, our expert in weapons, and his colleague Marin Milchev have shown Antiqua two unique hunting rifles of the second half of the XIX century — the gun Lepage a Liege, dating from 1889 (the Belgian) and the Teschner-Kollat gun of the 1880-s (the German). «The perturbations of the ХХ shook Russia as none of ane other countries: the revolution, the wars, the change of social order — this all isn’t likely to help the old things’ preservation in general, and guns especially. Nowadays, it’s already difficult to analyse such a good preservation cirqumstances in detail. Following some technical information, we conclude those were different reasons. The Belgian had almost never been hunting, it was carefully saved. The German was used for hunting, but also very carefully, the owners followed the operating rules and provided all preventive maintenance».
The subject of weapons, and, more exactly, ammunicion, is continued with the display of a small part of a cartridge collection. Maxim Popenker, the owner of the unusual assembly, says: «Owing to the specific character of cartridge industry, such collections might be quite large — thousands or dozens of thousands items of storage. There exist collectors who only take one caliber, 9х19 Luger for instance. There might be dosens of thousands Lugers in the collection, but there’s no chance to complete it totally — this kind of a cartridge was manufactured for 110 years all over the world, so it’s most likely that nobody knows the exact number of its variations».
Next, there’s coming the collection of old soldiers’ cigarette-cases of 1940—1947, got together by Michail Apego, the publisher and collector from Saint-Petersburg. This is just a part of his large set of «folk art» items. «As the Russian soldier always has «stone soup», everything made by improvised means, glorious naivety appears. Items bear in themselves the charn of their authors’ imperfection. If a soldier has some free time at the war, as well as material and itch, items like these come out. The collection says this is quite a wide-spread event».
Having heard from a familiar Finnish antiquarian he has acquired an absolutely unique watch , inseparably linked with the history of Russia, we immediately drove to Helsinki. Marko Ilostalo told us there of the unique watch with the portrait of Stalin on it: «One watch was given to the museum, and the story of it made the haedlines and reached the ears of the USSR government. The Soviet commercial representative got in touch with Revue factory, obtained more details of the case, after which suggested they bought all the issue including the local museum item. When the Swiss side received the money, and the watches were ready for shipping, the factory got the instruction to destroy them, which was commited with the Swiss accuracy, but Revue and the Soviet side didn’t realise that six watches had remained in the collection of Mr Karhumyaki and therefore avoided the smash».
And, pending the watch subject, Antiqua editorial board have got up to an interesting experiment of Longines of 1915 restoration: «The watch is to go through the complete cycle from the body polishing (we won’t chromize it as it’s made of nickel silver but not steel), the glass replacement, face restoration, making new slug to fix the wristlet before the mechanism assembling-disassembling and cleaning. We’ll see how it goes and tell you the results in next issue».
Further on there comes the story of historical photoprocesses reconstruction told by the photographer Alexey Alexeev: «The world number of photographers who work in these techniques is aproaching one hundred, but this is anyway very few. As for Russia, three of them reside in Saint-Petersburg and three more in Moscow. I taught most of them. It happened that I became the pioneer of ambrotypia in Russia. I know everybody who’s into it — from the USA to Australia. We intensively correspond and frequently meet at theme festivals, up to a hundred people from all over the world. We’re fewer than astronauts!»
This issue’s publication about historical instruments is also connected with fine arts. Andrey Kharshak, the graphic artist and art historian, the expert in Russian graphic of the XIX—XX centuries, the Honorary Member of Russian Academy of Fine Arts, the Honoured artist of the Russian Federation speaks of the family collection graphic instruments, originally belonging to the great artists V. Mate and P. Shillingovsky.
The issue is continued with The Wine Workshop for an amateur collector. Alexander Matyuschenko, the member of Saint-Petersburg sommelier association, the expert in wines and strong alcohol, shares with Antiqua some basic knowledge, essential for starting a wine collection. The photo of all Chateau Mouton Rotschild vintages 1945 to 2008 is a beautiful illustration, connecting the subjects of wine and art, as since 1945 this great wine labels have been decorated by the greatest ХХ century artists, such as Jean Cocteau (1947), George Braque (1955), Salvador Dali (1958), Henry Moore (1964), Juan Miro (1969), Marc Shagall (1970), Wassily Kandinsky (1971), Pablo Picasso (1973), Andy Warhol (1975), Georg Baselitz (1989), Ilia Kabakov (2002) and a lot more.
Antiqua has got in touch with the owner of the world-biggest and the most valuable collection of strong alcohol — Bay van der Bunt. The Dutch collector, who in a weird way hasn’t tried any of his valuable elixirs, dedicated his life to the search of the rarest and best achohol. Some of the cognacs date from 1789 — the year when the French revolution occured and George Washington became the US president. Bay is now going to sell his collection, which is estimated at 10 million British pounds. At the beginning of 2014 we’ll come round to him and publish a large exclusive interview in next issue.
Ilmira Stepanova, the collector of vintage dolls, especially for Antiqua has interviewed Francois Theimer — possibly, the most respectable expert in antique French dolls and all-over-the-world toys. «In 1863 Paris saw about three hundred new expensive shops which sold only dolls’ clothes and accessories. Some specialized in shoes, other sold luxurious umbrellas or hats. These were fairy tale-like shops: every absolutely graceful miniature item was elaborately hand-made. This all led to numerous cases when parents asked Ouret to sew the same clothes for their children. That is how children’s fashion appeared in France!»
The story by Michail Karasik about one of the most considerable constructivist masterpieces — For the Voice by Vladimir Mayakovskiy and El Lisitskiy- representrs the book subject in this issue: «Lisitskiy constructed this book for an elocutionist, its pages are orgnazed in the index or alphabetical manner. Every type page is assembled of typecase material, and most spreads are in fact «pictures out of a typecase», which links us to another, earlier, typography masterpiece — the Futurist digest by Vasiliy Kamenskiy Tango with cows. Ferroconcrete poems (1914). Whereas Futurist and Conctructivist differ from each other fundamentally, both issues have representative quality and public, not private reading orientation in common».
The issue is closed with the story and photos by Pavel Ulyanov, the editor of Antiqua . He shares with us his view of the famous Udelka in Saint-Petersburg: «For many years I used to come to this flea-market without any need — just to enjoy seeing open-hearted relations, acquire a useless trinket, hear marginal folklore, and mostly — to immerse into the atmosphere of a chaotic panopticon. Incredible installations of mixed objects, spontaneously constructed by townee salesmen, sometimes exceed modern art at both expressiveness and fullness of inner content».