Anyone who is anyone in the contemporary art world has heard of Daria Zhukova, and her ongoing mission to have Russian contemporary artists to be compared against their international peers, and it seems that the opening of the new Garage Center of art is pivotal to making her goal a reality.
The Wall Street Journal has hailed it as ‘Moscow’s bold campaign to become the world’s next contemporary art hub’ – and that was even before the inaugural opening night, attended by senior people from Christie’s, Sotheby’s, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, serious art collectors and a smattering of celebrities including Woody Allen, Stella McCartney and George Lucas.
So – what is all the fuss about? – here is our 101 on Garage:
Where is Garage?
Garage is located in Gorky Park. Since 2011 the park has undergone a total transformation to all of it’s 300 acres, and is now one of the most popular places for locals to visit. Free wifi, an extensive program of events and a beautification of the entire park was all spear headed by Sergei Kapkov, the Head of the Department of Cultural Heritage who has now been nicknamed the ‘minister of hip’.
It has been around a while, what’s new?
Garage was founded in 2008 at the site of a former 1920’s bus Garage (hence the name) that now houses the incredible Jewish Museum & Tolerance Center in Moscow. The move to Gorky Park was several years ago to a temporary home while the new space was being created. Formerly a Soviet café that seated 1,200 people, Dutch architect Rhen Koolhaas has created a $27m 58,000 square foot space, retaining some of the original Soviet features. The building is covered with polycarbonate, and on a cloudy day it looks ethereal from the outside, blending in with the sky, almost as if it is going to take off!
There are no permanent exhibitions, all the art will change on a regular basis.
Why should I visit?
Even if you find contemporary art incomprehensible you should go. Although the project has been designed with oligarch money, the objective is to engage with the local artist community, and as the Wall Street Journal said ‘new tastemakers are determined to make Russia a must see’. Anyone with an interest in how Russia is evolving since the end of the Soviet era should go!
How can I make the most of my visit?
If you just want to enjoy the exhibitions alone, that is fine, but anyone with a strong interest in Russian contemporary culture should book a docent led tour. The museum opens at noon and stays open until 21:00 on weekdays and 22:00 at the weekends. There is an excellent café for coffee and cakes (delicious!) or a full meal.
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