Russian contemporary art entrepreneur wins state bid to restore studio of 19th-century painter Isaac Levitan

Russian contemporary art entrepreneur wins state bid to restore studio of 19th-century painter Isaac Levitan
Isaac Levitan's house-studio. Image: Ovcharenko via Facebook.

4 February 2021

Contemporary art mogul Vladimir Ovcharenko has won a bid to purchase and restore the crumbling house-studio of artist Isaac Levitan in Moscow.

Located in the annex of a classicist mansion in the capital’s Ivanovskaya Gora neighbourhood, the atelier of the 19th century painter belonged to the Russian Academy of Arts until it was abandoned a decade ago. In 2020, the then-derelict house was put up for auction by the government, and caught Ovcharenko’s eye via a Facebook post by artist Egor Rogalev, appealing people to save the building from decay. The art dealer won the state tender with an offer of more than 61m roubles (around £590,000) as reported by Russian news agency Tass.

Isaac Levitan's house-studio. Courtesy of Ovcharenko via Facebook.

Isaac Levitan's house-studio. Courtesy of Ovcharenko via Facebook.

According to the terms of sale, Ovcharenko, who owns a homonymous art gallery in Moscow and runs the online auction house Vladey, must now restore the building within seven years. It’s estimated that the total cost of the project will be another 150m roubles (around £1.5m).

Levitan was best known for his landscape paintings, and was a member of the Peredvizhniki or “Wanderers”, a group of Russian realist artists who protested against the exclusivity of Russian art circles at the time, and fought to bring art closer to people in the provinces. The studio was a gift from wealthy Moscow entrepreneur Sergei Morozov, who allowed him to move into a space in his father’s mansion. The artist lived in the house from 1889 until his death in 1900.

Ovcharenko plans to turn the space into a gallery, with exhibitions already planned for summer 2021, while the full restoration of the house-atelier is underway.

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