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The Igor Savitsky Museum
As well as one of the finest collections of Soviet avant garde art, this museum also boasts one of the largest exhibitions of archaeological finds and folk art anywhere in central Asia.
Like a ruby in the dust, the Igor Savitsky Museum (also known simply as Nukus Museum) holds the world’s second-largest collection of Russian avant-garde paintings after the Russian Museum in St Petersburg. It also has one of the largest exhibitions of archaeological finds and folk art anywhere in central Asia.
The museum is divided into five galleries. Uzbek Art of the 1920s and 1930s is a comprehensive survey of schools from realism to avant-garde, and the gallery includes the work of both Uzbek artists and foreign artists painting in Uzbekistan. The works show the important interplay of influences from East and West: architecture and decorative arts are drawn from Uzbekistan’s Islamic traditions; artists such as Benkov, Koravay and Kashina depict the region’s ancient cities; Nikolayev imaginatively blends the techniques of Italian masters and Russian iconography. There are also works of Impressionism, post-Impressionism and Futurism.
The most famous gallery is 20th century Russian Avant-Garde, a smorgasbord of post-revolutionary works that narrowly survived Stalin’s curtailment of creative freedom and prescription of ‘Social Realism’ as the only acceptable form of Soviet art in 1932. Art that did not conform with Stalin’s ideal was repressed and its artists persecuted.