Masterpieces of the avant-garde in the Tretyakov gallery. Kostaki Collection
On September 16, 2019, the Tretyakov Gallery opened the hall of the largest col-lector of the Russian avant-garde, George Dionisovich Kostaki (1913-1990).
He was born in Moscow in a Greek merchant family. In the 1930s, Kostaki worked as a driver at the Greek Embassy. He drove many diplomats to antique shops, then got carried away and started collecting himself.
‘I collected old Dutch artworks, porcelain, Russian silver, carpets and fabrics. But I kept thinking that if I kept going like this, I wouldn’t bring anything new to art. All that I collected was already in the Louvre, in the Hermitage, and, per-haps, in every large museum in any country, and even in private collections. If I kept this up, I could get rich, but… no more. I wanted to do something special. Somehow, quite by accident, I got into a Moscow apartment… There I first saw two or three canvases of avant — gardists, one of them was Olga Rozanova… The works made a strong impression on me. <…> So I bought avant-garde paintings, brought them home, and hung them next to the Dutch artists. And it was as if I had lived in a room with curtained qindows, and now they were open and the sun was streaming in. From that time on, I decided to part with every-thing I had collected and buy only the avant-garde. This happened in 1946’ (Na-talia Kostaki, Vladimir Zazhirei. George Kostaki. Russian art. — 2008)
In 1977 he decided to leave the Soviet Union and donated 834 works from his collection to the Tretyakov Gallery, including 142 paintings and 692 works of graphics of the first third of the XX century.
Today, the works of Kostaki collection are added to the exhibition of Marc Cha-gall, a hall of the Gallery dedicated to the works of the 1910s is opened, where David Burulyuk, Joseph Shkolnik, Nikolai Kulbin, Alexander Shevchenko, Rob-ert Falk, Niko Pirosmani are exhibited. Thanks to this collection, the Tretyakov Gallery now is the proud keeper of such masterpieces of the Russian avant-garde as Kazimir Malevich’s ‘Portrait of Matyushin’, Pavel Filonov’s ‘Symphony of Shostakovich’, Vasily Kandinsky’s ‘Red square’, ‘Pictorial Architectonics. Black, Red, Gray’ by Lyubov Popova and ‘Running landscape’ by Ivan Klyun.
The nominal and neighboring 7,10,13 halls of the Tretyakov Gallery occupy more than 50 paintings and graphic works. The collector’s Kostaki daughters, Aliki and Natalia, like their father, presented the Museum with several other fam-ily heirlooms, including the ‘Portrait of G. D. Kostaki’ made by the artist Otari Kandaurov.