Roman Abramovich acquires the largest collection of Ilya Kabakov's works
Ilya Kabakov who now lives in New York was one of the founders of the Moscow conceptual art school. One can say that his name is among the main ones in the history of the modern Russian art. His works are exhibited in the largest museums of Russia, Europe and the USA.
Since 2008 when Ilya Kabakov's painting Beetle sold at Phillips de Pury & Co auction for 5.8 million USD the artist has been named the most expensive Russian artist still alive. Over the years that passed that record has not been outbid.
The collection purchased by Roman Abramovich includes 40 paintings, some of which according to art experts can easily compete with the Beetle painting, as well as some installations and Kabakov's early albums. The majority of the works was created by the artist prior to his departure from Russia, i.e. they belong to the most precious period of his artistic career.
The American collector John L. Stewart was the previous owner of the collection. He collected the works of Ilya Kabakov over the course of several decades. Neither he, nor representatives of Roman Abramovich have commented on the deal.
In expert opinion, the collection is priceless. Natalia Kolodzei, executive director of the US based charity Kolodzei Art Foundation, which promotes modern art in Russia and the former Soviet Union, points out that «it is one of the largest collections of Ilya Kabakov works in the world». In addition, she is convinced that the collection cannot compare to any other in terms of its artistic and historic value.
It is a known fact that John L. Stewart over the course of several years was looking for buyers for his unique collection. The asking price ranged between 30 and 60 million dollars depending on the state of the art market.
Ilya Kabakov's albums created in 1968-1975 are one of the most interesting and characteristic parts of the collection. Albums became a special form of art and an important stage of artistic work of the Moscow conceptual art school. Ilya Kabakov created that genre. Kabakov's albums are series of several dozens of sheets containing graphics and texts, both descriptive and ironically philosophical. The most famous album series was «Ten personalities» (1970-1975). Two such albums are exhibited in the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Some of the albums of that series are included in the collection purchased by Abramovich.
Such a deal is unique: it is the first time that a large collection of a modern artist is acquired in such a way. According to expert forecasts, such a deal could have a positive effect on the price trends not only on Ilya Kabakov's works, but also on the state of the Russian modern art as a whole.