classics above all, with icons, early twentieth-centuryfigurative art, and nineteenth-centuryrealism also fetching reasonable prices at auction. Again judging by auction prices, the Russian new rich, who became increasingly prominent buyers at auction from late 1993 onwards, have tastes that incline to Fabergé, porcelain and ormolu vases, malachite tables, and other opulent pieces of decorative art, as well as paintings representing picturesque Russian scenes in the mainstream realist manner (pine forests by Shishkin, fairground scenes by Makovskii, and so on).32They are clearly unlikely, for the meantime, to sponsor demanding excursions into abstract art, let alone conceptualism or performance art. If Russiadoes develop a post-Soviet tradition of corporate art, then, a mercantile direction of sponsorship to replace the city authorities and trade unions formerly commissioning heroic workers and peasants, it may well be a revival of early twentieth-centurystyle russe. Or on the other hand, given the huge wealth accumulated by some new Russian millionaires (and billionaires), a significant patron of Western art, a distant successor to Shchukin, may perhaps emerge at the stage when the country does finally settle down.
|32.||These assertions are based on the sales figures for the Icons, Russian Pictures and Works of Art auctions at Sothebys, London, 1991-5; see also D. Staunton, "Loaded Russians March into Europe", Observer, 13 Aug. 1995.|
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