First private Art Deco museum opened in Moscow

Les Girls, Demetre Chiparus. Source: Art Deco Museum

Les Girls, Demetre Chiparus. Source: Art Deco Museum

Visitors to Moscow can now enjoy the art of the Jazz Age at Russia’s first private Art Deco museum. Founded by the owner of one of the world’s largest Art Deco collections, the museum contains more than 700 sculptures from that legendary era, valued at $100 million.

Russia’s very first private Art Deco museum has opened its doors to visitors in Moscow. Founded by businessman and gallerist Mkrtich Okroyan, the owner of what is believed to be one of the world’s largest collections of Art Deco works, the museum, which opened on Dec. 22, is located in the building that once housed the Imperial Mint. 

Okroyan started to accumulate his art collection at the end of the 1980s. As is often the case, his first sporadic purchases gave the collection a very eclectic feel. It contained work by Russian artists Aivazovsky, Savrasov, Goncharova, Bakst, and Sudeikin, as well as decorative applied art, furniture, and tableware from various eras and different styles.

But as the collector says, “I immediately had a real passion for Art Deco, and it started with architecture.” By the turn of the century, Okroyan had started focusing on the search for rare sculptures, paintings, and furniture from that period.

The pride of his collection is more than 700 sculptures by leading European Art Deco masters, including work by Demetre Chiparus and Ferdinand Preiss, Claire Colinet and Bruno Zach, which serve as the core of the exhibition.

RBTH has selected five highlights of the new museum that visitors should not miss:

Untitled panels, Pierre Bobot, 1947

Source: Art Deco Museum

This eight-part panel is a fragment of a huge wall decoration created by French artist and sculptor Pierre Bobot after World War II for the New York Roseland Ballroom. These gypsum panels, covered with gold leaf and lacquer, were sold in pieces at Christie’s auctions in New York in 2000. This composition is more than six meters long and two meters high.

Source: Art Deco Museum

La Chasse, Jean Dunand, c. 1935

This is a reduced author’s copy of a panel created for the cigar salon used by first-class passengers on the legendary French ocean liner SSNormandie. The ship itself was referred to as a “luxurious floating museum” because of its abundance of decorative art and furniture by the leading masters of the time. The La Chasse panel is one of seven works of gilded lacquered wood that Dunand made for the vessel.

Les Girls, Demetre Chiparus

The museum is proud of its collection of work by Demetre Chiparus, a great French sculptor of Romanian origin. Les Girls was inspired by the Parisian cabaret and Sergei Diaghilev’s ballet seasons. It is one of five versions of the cast bronze sculpture and, according to the curators of the collection, the best preserved. The dancers are carved in ivory, and the pedestal is made of marble and quartz.

Set of Furniture for a Billiard Room, Louis Majorelle

Source: Art Deco Museum

“I am very proud of what is possibly the only completely preserved billiard set by Louis Majorelle,” says Mkrtich Okroyan. Even though the legendary cabinetmaker’s work, some of which is located at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, belongs to the modern era, it is easy to forgive its presence at the Art Deco Museum. Suffice it to observe the rhyming floral curves of the furniture décor and the dresses of the dancers frozen in bronze.

The Fire and the Flame, Ferdinand Preiss

Source: Art Deco Museum

In about 1920, German photographer Hugo Erfurt, who captured dancers in mid-jump, was the first to cut the floor out of the photo and create the effect of figures hovering in the air. Ferdinand Preiss brilliantly topped that effect during the Art Deco era by positioning the figure of a dancer above flames. Dancer Gret Palucca, who was known for her ability to reach unbelievable heights and long jumps, served as the prototype for the sculpture.


Address: Luzhnetskaya Embankment 2/4, building 4. Admission to the museum is free. Hours of operation: 11:00 a.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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