Moscow, days 3-4: Partizani, Putin-mania & konstruktivizma

Yesterday, we joined the crowd at the flea-market "vernissage" in Ismailovskaya park, near the Partizanskaya Metro station. Like the station, the flea market was full of "Great Patriotic War" memorabilia, and much more : matryoshka dolls, bad art, Soviet-era books, maps and documents,ancient post cards, goofy sculptures, and even some surprisingly clever handicrafts. Vladimir  Poprotzkin, for example, offers matryoshkas of works by famous artists; Susana bought his Malevich doll, one tiny reproduction nested in another nested in another of the famous suprematist paintings.  We were also impressed by the detailed lighthouse models by Andrei Savarov.

And then there were all the Putin images in coffee mugs: posing shirtless and flexing, or grimacing or snarling while saying things like "Crimea is ours!" And Russia's English-language TV station that night was equally belligerent, denouncing what they said (in perfect American accents) were absurd US propaganda slurs implying that Russia had something to do with the downing of the Malaysian jet liner while minimizing Ukrainian government terrorism. We weren't convinced by this view, but apparently many Russians are.
At Crash Scene of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Rebels Blame Ukraine

None of this tension has been observable on the streets of Moscow this weekend, where Gorky Park and the whole south bank of the Moskva river was in festival mood. And this in great heat, well over 30º.  Most memorable today: the Costakis collection of Russian avant-garde art, or at least part of it, in the Tretryakov Gallery annex (fortunately air-conditioned). The story of how this very perceptive collector managed to save so many marvelous works — besides Malevich, pieces by Tatlin, Rodchenko, Popova and many others — from oblivion and almost certain destruction  is told in a film.

More later. It's been a fatiguing day.

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