For Natalia Kolodzei, collecting is a family tradition. The executive director of the Kolodzei Collection of Russian and Eastern European Art has her mother, Tatiana, to thank for the origins of one of the world’s largest private collections. Initiated during the 1960s, the assemblage started in earnest when Tatiana joined the early wave of patrons of Russian nonconformist art. By the 1970s, the elder Kolodzei was entrenched in the modern avant-garde movement, snatching up works by artists who would become some of the country’s greatest.
Since taking over the collection in 1998, Natalia has kept her family’s tradition alive, expanding the group’s scope and scale to encompass contemporary Russian artists and comprise more than 7,000 works. Overseeing the Kolodzei Art Foundation—which her mother established shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991—Natalia has also brought her family’s collection to a broader audience, staging exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States.
Rather unusually for a high-profile Russian collector, Kolodzei has no plans to sell any of the works in her assemblage. Instead, she believes her role is to foster understanding and connect the public with the art. “It would truly be a pity if the art and the artists represented in the collection did not outlive our own history,” she says. “That’s the reason that we continue to collect and to promote the work of these individuals.”
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