Contemporary Art In The USSR And Russia 1950-2000: A Major Donation

22 September, 2016 – The Centre Pompidou will unveil an extraordinary donation of more than 250 works of Soviet and Russian contemporary art assembled through the outstanding efforts of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, and presented to the Musée National d’Art Moderne thanks to the generosity of the Foundation and the collectors, artists and their families. Taking place in 2016 among a series of events paying tribute to the role of donors, the exhibition highlights once again their crucial importance to the development of cultural heritage institutions. 

Without pretending to be exhaustive, this ensemble of works by major artists offers a panorama of some forty years of contemporary art in the USSR and then in Russia, covering the most important movements.

The exhibition will reveal the wealth and diversity of an art created outside official structures. In the late 1950s, stimulated by the exhibitions of art from abroad made possible by Khrushchev’s thaw, non-conformist artists like Francisco Infante, Vladimir Yakovlev and Yuri Zlotnikov re-engaged with the aesthetic practices of the Russian modernist avant-gardes, source of inspiration for so many Western artists, and sought to invent their own formal language.

An unprecedented initiative developed in collaboration with the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, the significance of this project extends beyond the exhibition itself. A forceful expression of the Musée National d’Art Moderne’s on-going commitment, the works assembled here will join the permanent collection.

They will complement the key holdings of such modern artists as Kandinsky, Larionov and Goncharova, as well as a number of major contemporary works acquired since the 1980s thanks to the enthusiasm and engagement of the Centre Pompidou’s curators.

This new holding will allow the Museum to communicate to a broad public, both in France and abroad, a history too often believed to have come to an end in the late 1920s. As part of a resolutely international collection of contemporary art, these works from the USSR and Russia will enter into dialogue with art from all over the world, opening new horizons for study and research.

This significant addition to the contemporary collections will also see Paris-based Russian artistrys from the 1970s – such as Erik Bulatov, Igor Shelkovsky, Oscar Rabin, Eduard Steinberg and Vladimir Yankilevsky – granted the recognition they deserve.

The exhibition of these new acquisitions forms part of the programme of the Franco-Russian Year of Cultural Tourism, and will be accompanied by a series of talks and screenings running from September 2016 to January 2017.


Contributing to the Centre Pompidou Collection is a symbolic gesture encouraging the integration of contemporary Russian Art into the world culture. Back in the time, the donation of the Black Square by Malevich to the State Hermitage was a similarly symbolic step, which was followed by a number of further donations to the Museum’s fund. Culture is the best way to tell people about Russia, especially so, as we really have a lot to show. The previous experience of major international cultural projects (When Russia Spoke French… in Paris and RUSSIA! in New York) has proved that Russian Art provokes a huge interest worldwide. And it is a special pleasure that we managed to form a group of likely minded people – patrons of art and artists – who joined our initiative.


Due to its scope, this donation represents a milestone in the development of the collection of the Centre Pompidou. In a very unique way, it completes the extraordinary selection of Russian and Soviet artworks gathered in the Musée National d’Art Moderne. This donation reminds us that, even at the most tormenting times in Russian history, art never ceased to transform.

Media Contact
Company Name: Vladimir Potanin Foundation
Contact Person: Andrey Kirpichnikov
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Phone: 00+7+9852279250
Country: Russian Federation