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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Fine Art of Collecting

Art is everywhere in Moscow. It's in museums, markets and monuments; it's even in the metro. But when it comes to buying art, it's hard to know where to look.

The city's galleries cater to a variety of tastes and budgets -- you just have to know what you are looking for.

Many galleries are in the process of moving into the Winzavod complex, which could complicate your art search in the short term but should mean less legwork in the future.

Marina Loshak is the director of one such gallery, Proun, which specializes in Russian art of the early 20th century. Proun sells artworks by Natalya Goncharova and Kasimir Malevich, with price tags similar to those on a luxury car. But Loshak likes the challenge of assisting the people who don't drive one.

"I like helping the intelligent public," she said. "I am aware that most people do not have that kind of money to part with, but if they came to me with $500 I could definitely find a nice original artwork for them."

NB Gallery, which sells art from the period of Social Realism, also has art for smaller budgets and is currently holding an exhibition called "Art for the New Collector." Prices start at $500, said director Natalya Bykova (pictured above).

"If it's your first painting, you don't need to spend more than $10,000, especially if you don't know the market that well," she said.

One way to save money on art is to get something that's not a painting. The Krokin Gallery has a wide selection of original works that are illustrations and drawings. They are on paper and are more affordable than works on canvas.

Pierre Brochet, founder of the Art Collectors Club, considers photography and lithographs to be worthwhile options for a smaller budget.

"You could get some small but great photographs for under $1,000 at galleries such as XL and Guelman," he said.

If you do have more to spend, however, then Russian art is said to be a good investment. "Russian art is one of the fastest growing in value in the world," said Georgy Putnikov, who has been an art collector all his life. At the moment he is interested in Russian artists who worked in the 1970s and '80s: "It was a sentimental time in my life, from my student days."

If you have about $80,000, Putnikov recommends looking into the contemporary art market.

Igor Tabakov / MT
At NB Gallery, where there is an emphasis on Social Realism, prices start at $500.
"For this amount of money you need to pay attention to contemporary art, because if you pay for the older artworks, like Mikhail Larionov's, you will only be able to afford a small pencil drawing," he said. "With recent Russian art you can buy an excellent piece that will definitely increase in value over time."

The growing value of Russian art would seem to be confirmed by recent auction results. Sotheby's sold ?2.63 million ($5.17 million) in Russian modern and contemporary art at its London office last week, surpassing the top presale total estimate of ?2 million, Bloomberg reported. The auction house's total Russian art sales in 2006 rose 43 percent to $153.5 million.

Choosing the right contemporary works can be difficult, however.

"Look at artists who are in the good galleries, because they have taste and know what they are doing," Putnikov said. "There are only about 10 good contemporary art galleries in Moscow; Aidan, XL Gallery and Guelman Gallery are some of them. They have a feeling of the future and nurture the artists that they sell, which means that the artists keep working to a high standard."

Bykova of NB Gallery is more than happy to recommend fellow art galleries such as Aidan, XL and Regina, but is cautious about younger galleries.

"The galleries that have been around for more than 15 years are all knowledgeable and professional," Bykova said. "But some of the younger ones are run by people that have too much money and don't know anything about art. Art should never be confused with fashion."

Galleries are not the only route to take when shopping for art. Moscow has art fairs throughout the year, starting with Art Moskva, which focuses on the contemporary market, in the Central House of Artists from May 16 to 20. The Moscow World Fine Art Fair follows, from May 29 to June 4 at the Manezh, with contemporary and classic art. In December, there's Art Manezh, which exhibits works from the Soviet era. And for older art, Putnikov suggested looking at antique fairs such as those held in the Central House of Artists.

Putnikov warned that once you start buying art, it can be hard to stop.

"When I see something I like, I need it, I want it, I have to have it," he said. "Art collecting is not a hobby for me, it's a disease."


Aidan Gallery, from March 2 in Winzavod, 4th Syromyatnichesky Per., Bldg. 1, 251-3734, M. Kurskaya,

Guelman Gallery, from March 2 in Winzavod, 238-8492,

Krokin Gallery, 15 Ul. Bolshaya Polyanka, 959-0141, M. Polyanka,

NB Gallery, 6/2 Sivtsev Vrazhek, Entr. 1, door code 002, 203-4006, M. Arbatskaya.

Proun Gallery, from March 20 in Winzavod, 763-2165, M. Kurskaya.

Regina Gallery, from March 2 in Winzavod, 250-8571, M. Kurskaya,

XL Gallery, from March 2 in Winzavod, 671-6078, M. Kurskaya.