August 30 2014

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blasblog: the art world in moscow


While some of the fashion camp has moved over to London this week, the art folks have descended on Moscow for three days—and, more importantly to some, three nights—of art, culture, and a few shots of the local sauce (vodka, of course). I arrived on Sunday night and met Olympia Scarry and Dasha Zhukova (yes, that Dasha, who’s been all over the papers for her creation of a culture center in a renovated 1920′s garage here in Moscow, and for her relationship with a certain London-based Russian businessman named Roman) for dinner at a cozy restaurant called Mari Vanna. Its charm lies in its traditional food and its setting—the restaurant is laid out like an average Russian home in Soviet Communist times (the doorman dresses in a tracksuit and slippers, and sits on a crusty lounger). However, at Café Vogue today (despite the name, it’s more Café Carlyle than Fashion Café), talk was quickly diverted from quirky restaurants to American banking and the Wall Street meltdown. Collected in the dining room were the likes of Zhukova, Vogue Russia editor in chief Aliona Doletskaya, Jean Pigozzi, artist Adam McEwen, and gallerists Victoire de Pourtalès and Meredith Darrow. The big topic was how yesterday’s Black Monday, as they’re calling it in these parts, will affect the art world. Judging from the Damien Hirst auction that began at Sotheby’s in London that same day, not much. Though Hirst told The New York Times this weekend that his biggest fear is an auction of his work where no one stands up or raises a paddle, his fears proved unfounded. In the end, the auction reportedly sold 54 of 56 lots, for the sum of $125 million, which is a bit of a shock given the state of the economy. In any case, the art world seems like a pretty busy place, certainly in Moscow. In town are Barbara Bush, Vito Schnabel, Aaron Young, and Stavros Niarchos, and their schedule is packed. Yesterday afternoon saw a preview of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov’s The Gates exhibit at the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts; tonight is Zhukova’s dinner for the grand opening of the Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow; and tomorrow will be Larry Gagosian’s star-studded dinner for his own opening, plus a special performance of Arc Light by Aaron Young in the parking lot of Red October Chocolate Factory.

Photo: Derek Blasberg

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