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Russian Art in Russia
Ian Mitchell

n 17 May, MacDougall’s, the world’s largest auction house specialising in Russian art, held a VIP viewing of works which are to go on sale in London on 7, 10 and 11 June. The event was hosted by the British Ambassador at the newly-refurbished Residence on Sofinskaya Embankment.

Of all the sales of Russian art world-wide, 70% are held in London, 20% in New York and the remaining 10% split between Paris, Stockholm and Moscow. Last December MacDougall’s overtook both Christie’s and Sotheby’s to become the largest seller. Amongst the classics was Vladimir Lyushin’s Two Girls on a Beach (see picture), which is expected to fetch around £100,000. It is one of the earliest Russian works to show a woman in a bikini, a garment new to Socialist Realist art in the 1950s. MacDougall’s lavish catalogue for the sale describes the picture as ‘combining the anticipation of Khrushchev’s Thaw with nostalgia for artistic imagery of the early 1930s’ while it ‘reflects the artist’s poetic dream of the free, harmonious human being.’

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