The Soviet Naive Art Museum is a unique project organised by the “New Collection” Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation, study and popularization of Soviet naive art, and the study of Soviet culture. This new private museum is the initiative of two Perm art collectors and patrons – Nadezhda and Andrei Agishev. The Soviet Naive Art Museum was opened to the public in September 2012 with its first exhibition “October Has Always Been Red”, displaying the works of naive artists from the Prikamye area.
Naive art has much in common with the closely related genres of art brut, outsider art, primitive art, marginal art, visionary or intuitive art and neuve invention (liminal art). Although with differences in some small nuances, all these concepts are united by their freedom from the conventions of historical art and of the social ties of the creative world. For the naive mind there are no boundaries between what is real and fantastical, what is logical and absurd.
Soviet culture has given rise to new forms of the naive view of the world. Soviet slogans, calls for Soviet ideology, stories of “the little man” and daily life in the Soviet provinces are all intertwined in Soviet naive artists' work.
The Soviet Naive Art Museum seeks to create a place of dialogue for people of different cultures. Today the museum organizes academic events and research into Soviet culture, naive and modern art, the publication of research and popular literature, the realization of educational and creative exhibitions and the festival of street art “Ecology of Space”.
Despite the fact that the museum has only recently opened its doors, it is already a well-known project which has an established audience in Perm and further afield. In 2012-13 the museum organized three visiting exhibitions in Moscow and Ekaterinburg. It should be noted that the exhibitions run by the Soviet Naive Art Museum have been causing great interest not only amongst the general public, but also in the professional museum community. Thus, the new museum has acted as a platform for research and also a centre for Perm art, attracting audiences of all ages.
The Perm Foundation “New Collection” was set up by Nadezhda and Andrei Agishev, collectors and patrons of the arts. The Foundation was established on the 30th September 2004. It supports creative initiatives aimed at the preservation and promotion of art and at the same time carries out its own projects – its areas of priority are creating unique projects, and, primarily, organizing exhibitions, publishing, and running educational programmes. The “New Collection” Foundation also supports other exhibition projects of local Perm artists.
The Foundation was opened on the 30th September 2004 with the announcement of the programme “Prochteniye” (Rendition), a major “New Collection” programme, which is linked to the tradition of Perm wooden sculpture. A part of the programme was restoring a masterpiece of Perm wooden sculpture – “Christ in the Prison-Room” from the Pashinskaya church, which, in Nikolai Serebrennikov’s collection, was issued as exhibit No. 1. For a long time “Christ in the Prison-Room” could not be exhibited because of its poor condition. At the time the process of restoration was seriously delayed and threatened to become indefinite. It was at this moment that the “New Collection” Foundation financed the restoration, and the sculpture was finally unveiled to the public on the 30th September 2005, a year after the Foundation was established, in the exhibition “People, Angels and Gods”. Together with publishers “Khudozhnik i Kniga” (the Artist and the Book) the Foundation brought out an exclusive edition of the Nikolai Serebrennikov book “Perm Wooden Sculpture”.
In 2009 Ekaterina Degot, curator of the project “Kudymkor – Locomotive of the Future”, presented the project at the Third Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. Activities within the project primarily focused on introducing the audience to the life and work of Komi-Permyak artist and educator Pyotr Ivanovich Subbotin-Permyak. This project won the award for “curatorial project” in the field of contemporary visual art at the 5th all-Russian contemporary art competition INNOVATION. One of the Foundation’s most highly regarded exhibition projects is that of the artists Pavel and Alexander Svedomsky, which opened in Perm to great acclaim. Another large project which was organized partly by “New Collection” was the exhibition “Soviet Idealism”, which took place in March-April 2006. Also thanks to the Foundation, the Museum of Contemporary Art PERMM hosted the exhibition “Vision”. This was a true opening of video art in Perm. The foundation keeps its own collection of work, which mostly consists of Russian Actual Art and the work of local Perm artists.
In 2010 the Foundation “New Collection” started cooperating with the Ural branch of the NCCA (National Centre for Contemporary Arts). The Perm Foundation is also a full partner in the Alisa Prudnikova project “The Port-City”, took part in the organization of the Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art, and at the 2nd Industrial Biennale presented a special project – the Perm artist Mansour Zakirov’s exhibition “View of an Outsider”. In 2013 the Foundation became a partner of the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art.
In addition to the fine arts Nadezhda and Andrei Agishev are active supporters of the theatre arts. For the last four years the Foundation “New Collection” is a partner of the “Texture” international contemporary film and theatre festival.
Husband and wife art patrons Nadezhda and Andrei Agishev coordinated the creation and development of the “New Collection” Foundation art collection, which is a major source of support for the cultural sphere. This current collection is not a continuation of the family’s home collection, and was initially intended for the acquisition of works for subsequent placement in public places, which allowed their representation and interpretation in specific thematic contexts. The collection is devoted entirely to the purpose of public enlightenment and does not bow to commercial interests.
The collection first began to take shape in the middle of the first decade of the 2000s. An important role in this process was played by firstly the acquaintance, and later friendship and cooperation formed by the Agishev family and the art historian, art critic and curator Ekaterina Degot. Thus, in 2008 on the recommendation of Mrs. Degot, the Foundation made one of its first major acquisitions. A collection of 14 paintings by Olga Chernysheva – a series of works called “Panorama” dedicated to the Soviet cinema “Circular Kinopanorama” which was opened at the Exhibition of Economic Achievements (VDNKh) during the period of Khrushchev’s reforms. Chernysheva’s pictures are like fragments of a puzzle in faded film, thrown together yet uniting the reality and myth of the Soviet state. Even now, judging by the frequency of their exposure, they are some of the most popular works in the Foundation’s collection.
The Foundation’s collection consists of three stylistic tendencies. The first, with which the collection was begun, is Russian contemporary art. Characteristic tendencies of this style are represented in the works of the previously mentioned Olga Chernysheva, and also Dmitry Gutov, Leonid Tishkov, Dmitry Tsvetkov, Pavel Peppershtein, Konstantin Zvezdochetov, Vladimir Dubosarsky, Alexander Vinogradov and other well-known artists.
The second stylistic tendency is that of realist art. This group is the most “Permian” of the styles, and includes, for example the work of several masters of the Prikamye region (Tatyana Necheukhina, Maxim Kayotkin and Maxim Nurulin).
The third stylistic tendency of the collection is the work of naive artists and outsider artists. Moreover, the emphasis in the works in this category is on the interpretation of the Soviet legacy. As collectors the Agishevs have said of the selected timeframe: “Here we are presenting works that reflect Soviet visual culture. It is our nostalgia for the Soviet aesthetic and for Soviet design: it is a landmark of the social and cultural environment in which we both grew up, which is still close to us and is something we understand”. This section of the collection was formed as a result of the Agishevs’ interest in the work of Rudolf Tyurin and Mansour Zakirov – the major naive artist in the Perm Krai and also in the Urals as a whole. The works of these artists were amongst the first purchases made by the Foundation. Now naive art occupies a special position in the collection, which is linked to the preparations and opening in 2012 of the Soviet Naive Art Museum, the first private art museum in Prikamye, which has become an extension of the work carried out by the philanthropic foundation “New Collection”. In this period that collection was enriched by a significant number of works by major Russian artists of the genre (Pavel Leonov, Vasily Grigoriev, Alevtina Lyzhova, Ekaterina Medvedeva and others) and also by the works of Perm artists (Vera Bartova, Eduard Solodkov, Nikolai Tyurin and Nina Gorlanova).