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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Gallery Where Russia's Curators Shop

Pablo Picasso said, "Give me a museum and I'll fill it." That was easy for him to say, with his canvas-filled studio and prolific palette. For Russian curators these days, filling museums with good new art is a tall order, but a gallery in the middle of Moscow aims to change that.


Since Russian museum curators hardly have time to forage through every art studio in the country, the Rosizo Gallery acts as a supermarket where some of the best contemporary work by Russian artists is displayed and on sale. The prices are high, but then these sculptures, ceramics, glassworks and paintings are done by professionals.


"Each one of these works is one of a kind," says Tatyana Gorlova, who runs Rosizo, which is funded by the Culture Ministry. "I have been working with the artists for years. I remember when some of them were in art school."


For Gorlova, the artists and the museums, this is a purely new business. The state used to help good art find its way to exhibition halls, but such aid disappeared along with the Soviet Union. Until 1991, enormous competitions were held in the Central Exhibition Hall at the Manezh; prize-winning works were then distributed, as the Culture Ministry saw fit, to museums throughout the country. The competitions no longer take place, in part thanks to budget constraints, but also because the Manezh is being renovated as an auto showroom.


So Gorlova organized her own showroom -- Rosizo -- that would concentrate exclusively on art and pick up, to a small extent anyway, where the Manezh shows left off. It has been open since October 1992, and business has been good, she says. Admission to the gallery is free, and on most afternoons, parents stop by with their children to look at the finely crafted folk toys on display. Nevertheless, museum curators remain her target audience.


"We have to have high quality art on display," Gorlova says, "because our main consumers are museums." Although no foreign museums have bought from Rosizo, Gorlova says she has plenty of steady customers within Russia. "Nizhny Novgorod, Yaroslavl, Omsk, Tomsk. All have good museums that buy from us."


The current show focuses on delicate Gzhel porcelain and Zhostovo tea trays, in addition to colorful scarves and tapestries made in Sergiyev Posad, a town northeast of Moscow. All the items were made exclusively for this show.


Handmade jewelry is the most expensive art on offer. One elaborate silver bracelet costs 2 million rubles (about $920), and most of the rings and brooches -- all done in silver, inlaid with precious stones and designed with avant-garde flair -- go for between 1 and 2 million rubles. Pottery, which is clearly the gallery's strength, is priced at between 50,000 and 100,000 rubles.


Most of the vases and earthenware jugs were made by graduates of the prestigious Abramtsevo Art School. Several tall, graceful vessels that sit on clean white blocks against the wall fairly steal the show.


The most noteworthy artist to be regularly displayed at Rosizo is Alexander Ivanov, a glass and crystal designer from St. Petersburg who emigrated to the United States. His avant-garde glass vases, bottles and figurines are in collections and museums across Europe and America, and next month Gorlova will open a new exhibit and sale of Ivanov's latest creations. She says his work always sells briskly. Gorlova is hoping that the Ivanov show will revitalize interest in glassmaking in Russia. She says there is currently a crisis with that art form.


"The art of glassblowing is dying in Russia," she says. "There are no glass factories left around Moscow, and the ones in the provinces are in a terrible situation. There are practically no glass masters left."





The current exhibit of pottery, scarves and Gzhel porcelain runs until Sept. 16. The Rosizo Gallery is located at 28/2 Ulitsa Petrovka, on the second floor. Its hours are noon to 7 P.M. Closed Monday. Tel. 928-1445. Nearest metro: Pushkinskaya.