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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sotheby's One-Day Show Has Much to Marvel At

UnknownOne of the Warhol works on display
Christie's owner Francois Pinault may be grabbing all the headlines with his exhibition at Garage, but his rivals at Sotheby's are not about to let that go unanswered with a spring sales exhibition at the Krasny Oktyabr chocolate factory on Thursday. Sotheby's offers the general public a chance to see top-lots from leading Russian and Western artists for one day only before they go under the hammer in New York and London.

Pre-auction exhibitions like this travel around the world for audiences of wealthy collectors, almost literally to their doorstep; seeing them a walk away from the metro, as opposed to off Rublyevskoe Shosse, is a welcome and rare treat.

The bulk of the show is dedicated to 11 Russian paintings from the 19th and early 20th century. Chief among them are two works by the "Russian Turner" Ivan Aivazovsky, a historical painting by symbolist Mikhail Nesterov and an impressionistic landscape by official Soviet painter Isaak Brodsky. This last was something of a find. "The collector wanted to sell," explained Sotheby's Russian specialist Jo Vickery, "because for some reason he decided it might be a Monet. When we received a photograph, we saw immediately it was a Brodsky -- a charming, captivating work, very famous, but nobody knew where it was."

Western modern and contemporary art is represented, among others, by two Andy Warhol prints and an Edvard Munch painting of moored boats, but far and away the highlight is Alberto Giacometti's bronze sculpture "Cat," which would grace just about any museum the world over. "It is completely balanced, the movement is perfectly rendered," enthused David Georgiades of Sotheby's. "The tail balancing out against that one ear, that other ear, which could be down or torn off -- it's a boy cat, it's just come out of a fight."

There are smaller gems to be found in the Russian contemporary section as well. In particular, Sots Art co-founder Alexander Kosopalov's "Lenin Coca-Cola" is a classic example of the genre where unofficial artists repeated Soviet slogans and images to absurdity or juxtaposed them with Pop Art symbols; here the revolutionary leader is depicted as if on a soft-drink advertisement with a "signature" as if he had endorsed it.

The exhibition is a must-see simply because anyone without tens of thousands for a newer Russian piece or millions for the top-lots is unlikely to ever see them in the flesh again.

Sotheby's Spring Sales. April 2. 6 Bersenevskaya Naberezhnaya. Metro Polyanka. Tel. (499) 230 3930.