KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections

  • KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
    KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
  • KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
    KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
  • KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
    KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
  • KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
    KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
  • KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
    KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
  • KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
    KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
  • KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
    KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
  • KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections
    KHARDZHIEV'S ARCHIVE. Unique archive materials on Russian avant-garde and works from private collections

On October 11, the IN ARTIBUS foundation and the Russian State Archive of Literature and Arts (RGALI) open a large-scale research exhibition entitled “Khardzhiev’s Archive”. For the first time in Russia, this exhibition will present the legacy of outstanding Russian avant-garde artists from the famous private collection of a writer and historian Nikolai Khardzhiev.

The "Khardzhiev's Archive" exhibition is sensational not only because of the value of the items presented, but also because of the history of the famous archive. Thanks to non-standard and partly controversial methods of collecting, Nikolai Ivanovich Khardzhiev managed to save dozens of unique items for the history of Russian culture, which became a clear indication of the turbulent process of creative search of the 1910-20s. His collection comprises not only paintings and graphic works, but various rare documents as well: drafts and manuscripts, poetic and artistic sketches, photographs and autographs.

The display will feature archive materials that are available to researchers for the first time, as well as rare books, paintings and graphic works from private collections and major Moscow museums. The visitors will see the documentary and artistic heritage of Velimir Khlebnikov, Alexei Kruchenykh, Vladimir Tatlin, Elena Guro, Natalia Goncharova and Olga Rozanova. Also, the collection includes previously unknown theoretical texts by Lazar Lisitsky, Kazimir Malevich, Mikhail Matyushin and unique materials related to Vitebsk and UNOVIS (“The Champions of the New Art” group). The exhibition gives an opportunity to get acquainted with one of the most significant private collections of the Russian avant-garde for the first time.

The curators of the exhibition Ekaterina Bobrinskaya and Anna Korndorf say, “The story of Khardzhiev's archive and the very structure of the exhibition attest the huge role played by private collecting in preserving the heritage of the Russian avant-garde. It is private collectors who saved many works of artists that today are the pride of Russian culture from the death and complete oblivion.”

The fate of this valuable archive was tragic: when Khardzhiev decided to emigrate, he did not sacrifice part of his collection to the state in order to preserve the rest. The collector tried to take the whole collection abroad. While most of the archive was illegally transported to Amsterdam and was stored in the Stedelijk Museum, the other part was arrested at the customs in Moscow and transferred to the RGALI.

For decades, the Khardzhiev’s archive materials have been fragmented between the two countries, producing many legends about the collection. Only in May 2011 in Amsterdam, in a solemn atmosphere in one of the halls of the Hermitage Museum branch on Amstel, the Russian State Archive of Literature and Arts and the Netherlands Foundation "Khardzhiev-Chaga Cultural Center" signed an agreement on the joint activities, and at the end of November the collection was delivered to Moscow and transferred to RGALI.

The RGALI staff together with most prominent researchers of the avant-garde, art historians and philologists have done a tremendous job of systematizing and describing Khardzhiev's archive. Tatyana Goryaeva, director of the RGALI, said that “it was important to reunite a collection of world significance, to create an integral scientific base accessible to researchers.”

However, in 2011 the reopening of the reunited archive was impossible, because in the 1990s the part of the archive that remained in Russia was closed to researchers for 25 years by the order of Khardzhiev. Today, the IN ARTIBUS Foundation makes available a unique collection of documents related to the culture of the early 20th century for the first time.

The IN ARTIBUS Foundation together with the RGALI are going to publish the first of three planned volumes of documents from the archive of Nikolai Khardzhiev, timed to the opening of the exhibition.

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