Articles by Max Seddon



New Doc 'Putin's Kiss' Looks at Ex-Nashi Activist

"Putin's Kiss," a new documentary by Danish director Lisa Birk Pedersen, will disappoint those hoping to see the softer side of Russia's once and future president: Putin only appears briefly at the film's outset to receive a bashful peck on the cheek from Maria Drokova, then a star of the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi.

A Look at Soviet Race for Design

There's an old Soviet joke: A factory worker puts a down payment on a Zaporozhets, a ramshackle Ukrainian Fiat knockoff with an engine in the rear, a removable floor panel for ice fishing, and a tendency to go up in smoke at the first sign of breaking 80 kilometers an hour.

King, Prince Attend Start of Russia-Spain

Russia and Spain will be seeing a lot of each other in the next year as both countries begin a mammoth cultural exchange. King Juan Carlos II marked the opening of the Spain-Russia year of cultural exchange in St. Petersburg last Friday with the opening of the "Prado in the Hermitage" exhibition, and the Pushkin Museum is set to host the exhibition "Joan Miro and His Circle" in April.

Kandinsky Very Bland After 2008 Fascist Scandal

Vadim Zakharovs unsurprising victory rounded off a thoroughly unspectacular ceremony as notable for its absence of intrigue as the previous years was for a surfeit.

It Takes a Village: 2009's Kandinsky Prize Nominees

The prestigious Kandinsky Prize is a year older and a year wiser, and judging by the new nominees (including a promising stable of young Russian artists), it’s a good sight improved as well.

Words Worth a Thousand Pictures

I recently translated an artwork — not the text written to it, not the text in it, but the actual artwork — that is also a legal document, which for its author, Yury Albert, is par for the course.

Canvas: Blood, Sweat and Tears for Art

Going from the bureaucratic hassles of Russia to Norway, where exhibitions are state-funded and people take contemporary art for granted, you begin to appreciate how hard people in the Russian art world work.

Where Scandalizing Results in Trials, Not Prizes

Shocking is what contemporary artists are supposed to do. But in Russia, courting scandal can have far more unpleasant consequences.

Museum-Building for Dummies

Russian culture ministers of the last few years have not let contemporary art escape their attention, but that’s not always been a good thing.

Garage Makes Space For Famed Sculptor

Antony Gormleys sculptures pop up with such frequency in public places around the world that one is tempted to think of him as the closest thing to Britains official state artist. Domain Field, which recently opened at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, is one of a staggering seven Gormley shows currently on around the world.

Making Music With the Moscow Clouds Above

Since time immemorial, artists have turned to the heavens — rivaled only by landscapes, religion, and prostitutes — for solace and inspiration. Canadian physicist Nicholas Reeves, however, may well be the first to incorporate them into an artwork.

World Press Photos Impress, Disappoint

""To collect photographs,"" Susan Sontag once wrote, ""is to collect the world."" The world collected by the 2008 World Press Photo competition, whose prize exhibition opened at the former Krasny Oktyabr chocolate factory last Friday, is a veritable flipbook of the last year in the news.

Sub Shines Amid Mixed Bag at Venice Biennale

Russia featured heavily outside the main exhibition at Venice with veterans and new talent, although not everything was a success.

Diverse Russian Art on Show at Venice Biennale

The Venice Biennale, which marked its 53rd installment this year, is something of an art-world cross between the Grammys, the Cannes Film Festival and the Davos economic summit.

Perm Museums' Plan Dubbed the 'New Bilbao'

A two-hour flight east of Moscow, the city of Perm strikes you more as an industrial backwater than it does a future capital of the art world.

Breugel, Conceptualists Side by Side in Vienna

For any artist, the honor of an exhibition in one of Europe's major museums is a rare one indeed.

Museums Open Doors to All This Saturday Night

No plans for Saturday? Then head to the third annual Museum Night, set to encompass well over a hundred museums, exhibition spaces and private galleries across the whole of Moscow.

Dior, Biker Photos At Fashion Festival

What do Christian Dior, David Lynch, the Great Depression and Soviet biker gangs have in common?

A Crash Course in Contemporary Art at Garage

In uncertain times for art and the world at large, nothing is safe from speculation and doubt -- but doubt is not a word you associate with Francois Pinault.

Land-Art Fest Evokes Spirit of Modest Anarchy

The bizarre Archstoyanie event celebrates a uniquely rural genre of art -- as well as Russian pancakes, burning things and nature.

British Artists Transform Krasny Oktyabr Factory

The exhibition ""Natural Wonders: New Art from London"" turns the factory into a bustling artistic metropolis.

Red October Factory Becomes Bustling British Artistic Metropolis

“Natural Wonders: New Art From London,” which opened at Baibakov Art Projects in the former Red October chocolate factory last week, is the largest exhibition of new British artists on foreign shores since 1995.

Modern Russian Art Journey Confuses, Muddles

For the foreigner and native alike, travels through Russia can prove long, exhausting and confusing, providing little more of an understanding than they began with. "From Study to Art Object," the intellectual journey through over 300 modern Russian artworks that opened at the Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA) last Friday, risks having much the same effect.

Modern Russian Art Journey Confuses, Muddles

For the foreigner and native alike, travels through Russia can prove long, exhausting and confusing, providing little more of an understanding than they began with.

Plensa's Russia Debut Fuses Sculpture and Text

Barcelona-born Jaume Plensa, an innovator in the world of contemporary sculpture for most of the past two decades, opens his first show in Russia.

Plensa's Russia Debut Fuses Sculpture and Text

Visitors to ""Silent Music,"" Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa's exhibition of new works at Diehl + Gallery One, are best advised to wipe their feet on their way out as well as coming in. Seven bronze figures embossed with the names of famous composers sit clutching living trees growing between their legs from large piles of dirt covering the floor.

Korina Complements Conceptual Art Mythology

Judging by the group show "Another Mythology" at the National Center for the Contemporary Arts and Irina Korina's solo retrospective at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, both of which opened Monday, the paucity of state funds has done nothing to impede the creativity and expression on offer.

Salakhov's 80th Allows for Rare Retrospective

Out of all the artists who came of age under the Soviet Union, few can lay claim to the stature, and perhaps none to the astonishing personal story, of Tair Salakhov.

Crisis Provides Temporary Home to Seven Artists

The ornate Moreque building becomes a gallery for a few days only after a business expansion falls through in the city center.

Young at Art

A young curator debuts with a grand show at the Krasny Oktyabr factory.