RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE COLLECTOR GEORGE COSTAKIS: THE CANADIAN CONNECTION
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RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE COLLECTOR GEORGE COSTAKIS: THE CANADIAN CONNECTION
Annotation
PII
S268667300000616-7-1
Publication type
Article
Status
Published
Edition
Pages
101-115
Abstract
The article describes Canadian connections of the famous Russian avant-garde collector George Costakis (1913-1990). Ethnically Greek, but culturally Russian, Moscow-born Costakis joined the Canadian Embassy to the USSR in 1943 as administrator of local staff. He spent there 35 years, a full working life. He had had very little formal education but was street-smart enough to build up an outstanding collection of works by Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Marc Chagall, Alexander Rodchenko, Liubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova and many more - all bought on the salary of a modest embassy employee. This was possible because he was paid not as local staff, in Roubles, but as a foreigner (a Greek citizen) in Dollars, with a bank account in Ottawa. He profited from having had good and privileged relations with five Canadian Ambassadors as well as the overwhelming majority of several hundred Canadians who served at the Embassy in Moscow on a rotating manner over 1943-1977 years. Costakis visited Canada four or five times with lectures, exhibitions and once as a reward for faithful service to Canada - in 1968, 1973, 1982, and one or two times in 1989. In the fall of 1977 Costakis lost his job at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow and in January 1978 left the Soviet Union for Greece for good. While leaving he made a deal with the Soviet state: in order to get permission to take a portion of his collection abroad he agreed to donate 142 pictures and 692 pieces of graphic to the Moscow State Tretyakov Gallery. The remaining 1275 works of his collection were later acquired by the Greek government and placed at a specially organized State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessalloniki.
Keywords
G. Costakis, Russian and Soviet avant-garde painting, the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, Soviet-Canadian cultural relations
Date of publication
09.05.2018
Number of purchasers
8
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507
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0.0 (0 votes)
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Additional sources and materials

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Kostaki G.D. Kollektsioner. M.: Iskusstvo XXI vek, 2015. - 256 s
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Holmes J.W. Moscow 1947-1948: Reflections on the Origins of My Cold War // Canada and the Soviet Union: from Cold War to Detente and Beyond. Kingston: Ronald P. Frye & Company, 1989. P. 41-55.
Moscow Despatches. Inside Cold War Russia. John Watkins. Ed. and With an In­troduction by D. Beeby and W. Kaplan. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co, Publishers, 1987. - 150 p.
Roberts P. George Costakis: A Russian Life in Art. Ottawa: Carleton University Press, 1994. - 223 p.

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