Tate Show for Russian Revolution Paintings Rescued by Chauffeur

Article excerpt

Byline: LOUISE JURY Chief Arts Correspondent

DOZENS of works saved from obscurity by a chauffeur who loved art will go on show at Tate Modern this week.

They are masterpieces of Russian Constructivism which George Costakis began to collect when the rest of the Soviet Union, and the world, had shunned them.

Without them, the new exhibition on Aleksandr Rodchenko and Lyubov Popova, two of the most important Russian avant-garde artists, would scarcely have been possible.

Mr Costakis, who was born in Russia before the revolution to Greek parents, discovered his first Constructivist paintings in a Moscow studio in 1946.

He became friends with Varvara Stepanova, Rodchenko's wife, tracked down friends of the major artist Kasimir Malevich, and was the principal saviour of works by Popova, who became his favourite artist. When he left to live in Greece in 1977, Mr Costakis gave dozens of the best pieces to the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

Now they are being reunited in Britain for the first time, along with 60 more from his family connection at the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Mr Costakis died in 1990, aged 76. His daughter Aliki, 69, from Athens, said she was looking forward to seeing the show. …