Peek at the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs Art Collection

I.S. Araslanov, Medal in Khankala (2007), on view in "The Art Collection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation" at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Photo: courtesy the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.

The Moscow Museum of Modern Art is offering a rare glimpse behind the closed door of the Russian government in its new exhibition, “The Art Collection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.” This marks the first time ever that works from that collection have been on view for the general public.

The show honors the 45th anniversary of the creation of the V.V. Vereshchagin Russian Interior Ministry studio of artists, named after the 19th century Russian war artist Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin. Artwork produced by the studio depicts scenes from the history and day-to-day activities of Russian law enforcement agencies and military troops, including secret missions and other classified operations.

Based on real events, the paintings were often created on site, with the artists deploying to combat zones and other areas of conflict to work in close cooperation with units of the Russian Interior Ministry. The works document the endeavors of these law enforcement agencies during exercises and war games, as well as combat operations and military incidents.

Thanks to the studio, the Ministry’s art collection was mostly acquired through commissions, with artists being recruited to portray specific scenes. These works are responding to major political events and other contemporary matters of national importance, including social issues.

Roughly 200 works dating from 1969 to the present decade are on view in the exhibition in a variety of media, including paintings, graphic art, poster art, sculpture, and video. Just don’t expect to find any works depicting disgruntled soldiers cursing.

The exhibition is on view at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art from July 15 though September 7, 2014.

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