George Costakis: A Russian Life in Art

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9780807613665: George Costakis: A Russian Life in Art

This splendid book paints a rich portrait of the Russian avant-garde and the intrigues which it saved for posterity. Roberts has written a fascinating history of the famous Costakis collection and its creator George Costakis who, for nearly thirty years, was an administrative clerk in the Canadian embassy in Moscow. Until his forced departure from Russia in 1978 he collected, continually and painstakingly, the abstract, constructivist and supremacist art of 1912 to 1930 which fell into official disrepute under Stalin. The author, a former Canadian ambassador to Moscow, is a first-hand authority on Costakis and his magnificent obsession.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Born in Moscow of Greek parents, George Costakis (1912-1990) began collecting paintings of the condemned Russian avant-garde in the mid-1930s. He and his Russian wife Zinaida crammed their apartment with works by Chagall, Kandinsky, Kasimir Malevich, Liubov Popova and others, at great personal risk to themselves. Costakis's holdings, which today form the core of the Tretyakov Collection in Moscow, were instrumental in making the Russian avant-garde known to the West. In this delightful biographical study enlivened by 30 b & w photos and color reproductions, Roberts, former Canadian ambassador to the U.S.S.R. (1983-1985), extensively reproduces Costakis's own recollections from taped interviews made in 1987. Roberts refutes the theory, popular in the West, that Costakis was protected by the KGB; he shows that the KGB waged a campaign of personal terror in the 1970s against the art collector. We also learn of his mother's and brother's imprisonment in Stalin's gulag, and of his friendships with Chagall, Vladimir Tatlin and Aleksandr Rodchenko.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

The core of what is undoubtedly the most important collection of modern Russian art began life obscurely, hanging in the small apartment of a Russian administrator on the Moscow staff of the Canadian embassy. Denounced and derided, suppressed and destroyed by the Soviet government, this important body of work was only glimpsed by the West in the works of those who had fled the Soviet Union's intellectual oppression. The author, a Canadian diplomat who has been a friend of Costakis for many years, augments his moving transcription of Costakis's words with his own insights and memories, detailing the devotion and determination of one man to collect and preserve the avant-garde art of his country. Now that the constructivist and abstract art of 1912-30 can be exhibited in Russia and abroad, its importance has become as clear to the world as it was to Costakis. An important view of a period of enormous interest to social historians as well as art historians; highly recommended.
Paula Frosch, Metropol-itan Museum of Art Lib., New York
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description George Braziller, United States, 1994. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Until his departure from Russia in 1977, Costakis was chief administrator for the Canadian embassy in Moscow, during which time he collected the abstract, constructivist, and experimental art of 1912-30 that had fallen into official disrepute under Stalin. Costakis own voice, transcribed from taped interviews with the author, accompanies Roberts text, which puts Costakis life and collection into historical and art historical contexts. The volume includes color reproductions of works from the collection, including some by Kandinsky, Chagall, and Rodchenko. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780807613665

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