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Russian Contribution to Plastic Avant-Gardes

25 Jun 2024, 19:30–21:30
Age restrictions

A public talk on the Russian avant-garde and its influence on contemporary art with the curators of Square and Space. From Malevich to GES-2.

The talk is opened by the Programming Director of GES-2 House of Culture, Alisa Prudnikova.


n this talk, Francesco Bonami, Zelfira Tregulova, and Sergey Fofanov discuss how the concept of the Square and Space exhibition came about and how it is related to the building of the House of Culture itself, which was reconstructed by Renzo Piano. The talk centres around the links between the Russian avant-garde and Western art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. How did the term “Russian avant-garde” appear? How have attitudes towards the term changed over the decades? What was the significance of Malevich’s great experiment at the start of the twentieth century on the evolution of art all over the world?

Изображение. Черный квадрат, белая линия внутри создает еще два квадрата, которые касаются друг друга одним углом

Illustration by Misha Filatov

The title of the talk is a reference to the title of an exhibition that took place sixty years ago in Milan and Rome, and the importance of this exhibition for Square and Space is discussed by the curators. Drawing on their professional experience, each curator discusses their particular curatorial approach, shares their view of the artistic discoveries of the twentieth century and considers whether there is any sense in further exploiting the myths and stereotypes that arise around the Russian avant-garde in general and Malevich’s Black Square in particular.


Francesco Bonami  is an art critic and the artistic director of the BY ART MATTERS contemporary art museum (Hangzhou, China). He has curated over a hundred exhibitions, among them TRUCE: Echoes of Art in an Age of Endless Conclusions (2nd SITE Sante Fe Biennale, 1997); Unfinished History (Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, 1998); Manifesta 3 (Ljubljana, 2000); the 50th Venice Biennale, Dreams and Conflict: The Dictatorship of the Viewer (Venice, 2003); Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist's Eye (Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, 2005); Italics (Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 2008); the 75th Whitney Biennial of American Art (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2010); Modernikon. Contemporary Art from Russia (Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, 2010). Bonami is also the author of a number of books, including Si crede Picasso: Come distinguere un vero artista contemporaneo da uno che non lo è? (He believes himself to be Picasso: how to distinguish who is a true contemporary artist from who isn't?, 2010), Lo potevo fare anch’io (I can do the same, 2007, Russian edition: V–A–C Press, 2017), Bello, sembra un quadro. Controstoria dell'arte (Pretty as a picture. Counterhistory of art, 2022).

Zelfira Tregulova — is an art historian. From 2015 to 2023, she was the director of the State Tretyakov Gallery. Among the international exhibition projects she has curated are Berlin–Moscow. Moscow–Berlin (Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, 1995–1996); Amazons of the Avant-garde (Berlin–Bilbao–Venice–New York–London, 1999–2000); Dream Factory Communism (with Boris Groys, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2003); Etonne moi! Serge Diaghilev et les Ballets Russes (with John E. Bowlt, New National Museum of Monaco, Monte Carlo, 2009); and Socialist Realisms (with Matthew Bown, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, 2011).

Sergey Fofanov —is an art historian and curator specialising in the connections between Russian and German art of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. He is a researcher at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. He worked at the Western European Art department of the State Hermitage Museum from 2007–2012, and was a senior researcher of the Newest and Contemporary Art department of the State Tretyakov Gallery from 2017–2022. Assistant to Kasper König, the curator of the European Biennale of Contemporary Art Manifesta 10 (Saint Petersburg, 2013–14), Fofanov is also a member of the curatorial group of the Dreams of Freedom. Romanticism in Russia and Germany (2019–2021) international exhibitional project. 

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