The Art Newspaper Russia on the Kushnirskiy collection catalog

The Art Newspaper Russia Publishes a Review of the Kushnirskiy Collection Catalog

The Art Newspaper Russia has featured an in-depth review of the catalog “Russian Icons from the Mid-17th to the Early 20th Centuries: The Collection of Oleg Kushnirskiy.” This publication, titled “An American Story of Russian Iconography”, was penned by the famous art critic, writer, and blogger Sofia Bagdasarova.

The riveting life story of Oleg Kushnirskiy, the founder of the collection could easily form the plot for a novel replete with unexpected twists, dramatic confrontations, and momentous encounters. This is the tone with which the journalist kick-starts her article, wittily rephrasing an iconic quote from Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.”

Bagdasarova highlights that the newly published catalog goes beyond mere descriptions of the assembled icons; it unveils the evolution of the US market of Russian iconography. The article also points out key aspects of the scholarly articles included in the book. Among the contributors are Wendy Salmond, an American art historian and chief editor of the Journal of Icon Studies; Alek Epstein, an Israeli cultural scholar; and one of the top Russian icons experts Anna Ivannikova, the catalog’s compiler and author of the icons’ scholarly descriptions.

The Art Newspaper Russia delves into the biography of Oleg Kushnirskiy, detailing his move from Ukraine to Leningrad in 1975. This event was pivotal in the life of the future collector. Starting his career as a professional photographer, he began to specialize in photographing works of art. On one hand, this introduced Kushnirskiy to the circle of collectors and the semi-underground Soviet art world — at that time, in the last years of the Soviet Union with its planned economy that was already falling apart, there was no art market to speak of. On the other hand, constant exposure to ancient iconography gave birth to a desire to amass his own collection, a goal he had to abandon when he decided to move to the US from post-Soviet Russia in 1992 with his family. Emigration opened a new chapter in his life: continuing to work as a photographer, Kushnirskiy began trading in icons, which allowed him to form his second collection, represented in the catalog.

The publication also notes the collector’s attention to post-Petrine iconography. This era, long rejected by Soviet museums, is finding more and more admirers among contemporary collectors, with Kushnirskiy being one of the pioneers. This is why the catalog “Russian Icons from the Mid-17th to the Early 20th Centuries: The Collection of Oleg Kushnirskiy” is so valuable to both art historians and the general public.

The article is complemented with photographs of particularly significant icons from the collection, including “The Resurrection – The Harrowing of Hades,” “The Tikhvin Mother of God”, and “The Yearly Menaion.”

The article also features photos from the book launch at the M. Abramov Museum of Russian Icons in April this year, as well as comments from Oleg Kushnirskiy himself, discussing his journey as a collector, and Ilya Kushnirskiy, the director of the Russian Icon Collection. 

We extend our deepest gratitude to The Art Newspaper Russia and Sofia Bagdasarova for the insightful analysis of the book and sincere appreciation for our publication and its primary source—the Oleg Kushnirskiy collection.

For us, this is yet another confirmation of the necessity and significance of our educational work, which we are committed to continuing. Now that the book has been released, it has embarked on its own journey, one that we observe with immense joy and pride. Our next goal is to organize an exhibition of Oleg Kushnirskiy’s icons, which, we are confident, will bring us a host of even more astonishing encounters, coincidences, and discoveries.