The “useless rubbish” that George Costakis collected arrives at the Russian Museum in Malaga, Spain

The “useless rubbish” that George Costakis collected arrives at the Russian Museum in Malaga, Spain
The “useless rubbish” that George Costakis collected arrives at the Russian Museum in Malaga, Spain

Malaga (Spain), Jul 4 (EFE).- The collection assembled by the Greek-Russian George Costakis, considered at the time in Moscow “an eccentric Greek who buys useless rubbish”, is the focus of the new temporary exhibition at the Russian Museum in the city of Malaga (south), with prominent names of the Russian avant-garde.

A total of 470 works and a hundred original archive objects will remain in Malaga until April 2025 thanks to an agreement with the Museum of Modern Art of Thessaloniki (MOMus), which in return will open an exhibition on July 11 with funds from the Birthplace of the Malaga painter Picasso.

Aliki Costakis, the collector’s daughter, recalled at the presentation on Thursday how her father, despite not having had any artistic training or previous contact with these creations, became “the best specialist in the Russian avant-garde” at a time when not much was known about this movement.

Costakis (Moscow, 1913-Athens, 1990) had the good sense to “choose not only already famous names, such as Malevich, but he also began to collect everything, including works by female artists,” his daughter highlighted.

At a time when the avant-garde in Russia was “forgotten and banned”, many of the pieces he acquired “were hidden or destroyed by some people”, according to Aliki, who noted that painters such as Alexander Drevin were even arrested and executed during Stalinism.

The family’s three-room apartment on Moscow’s Vernadsky Avenue eventually housed more than 3,000 works of art and became a haven for forbidden avant-garde art in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as an unofficial museum visited on the sly by foreign intellectuals, diplomats and politicians.

When Costakis returned to Greece in 1977, he left part of his collection, “which included some spectacular pieces,” his daughter said, at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The rest of the collection, with 1,277 works, was acquired by the Greek State in 2000 for donation to MOMus, which also received his archive, donated by the family.

For her part, Maria Tsantsanoglou, director of MOMus and curator of the exhibition, explained that when Costakis began to collect these works in his apartment, “many people said he was crazy, because he was collecting useless things,” but he was convinced that one day “people would learn to value this art.”

It was in 1981, with the major exhibition of the Costakis collection at the Guggenheim in New York, when “it was discovered that this chapter in the history of art had not yet been written and could begin to be written,” according to the curator, who stressed that the collector saved these pieces “from oblivion and destruction.”

This is the largest MOMus exhibition to date outside of Greece, which presents the different movements of those decades “in an encyclopedic manner” and in which, in addition to Malevich, creators such as Liubov Popova, Ivan Kliun, Gustav Klucis, Mikhail Larionov and Pavel Filonov, among others, are present.

(c) EFE Agency

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