Eduard Shteinberg, «Aipril», 1986. Paper, cardboard, gouache. Collage.
Eduard Shteinberg, «Composition», 2011. Cardboard, gouache, pencil
Eduard Shteinberg, «Landscape», 1966. Paper, markers
Eduard Shteinberg, «Fisa from Semenova», 1988. Cardboard, gouache.
Date: February 6 — March 19, 2017
Venue: MMOMA, 10/2 Gogolevsky Boulevard, Moscow

Curator: Natalia Smolyanskaya
Architect: Sergey Sitar

The Moscow Museum of Modern Art with the support of the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation presents the solo exhibition of Eduard Steinberg “If there is water in the well...”, which is held in celebration of the 80th anniversary of the artist’s birth.

The solo show in MMOMA presents works on paper: watercolors, gouaches, and collages, most of which are sourced from Steinberg’s family holdings and have never been exhibited before. Including artworks which span the period which begins in the 1960s and ends with Steinberg’s last work produced in 2011, the exhibition encapsulates the entirety of the artist’s career and offers a new, unexpected perspective on his oeuvre. Along with geometric abstractions, for which Steinberg is best known, the exhibition demonstrates pieces from various stages of Steinberg’s development as an artist allowing viewers to trace the evolution of his visual language and grasp its characteristic features. The exhibition includes works rendered in pen, ink, pencil, pastel, gouache — all materials commonly used for sketching, the casual nature of which is echoed in the exhibition design — and aims to show the artist’s techniques and methods in the context of his reflections on the world and his life.  

Following the concept of the curator, Natalia Smolyanskaya, the exhibition space, designed by Sergey Sitar, is divided the into six thematic blocks — “Pochvennichestvo”, “Existentialism”, “Metaphysical Still Life”, “Diaries”, “Metageometry/Ideographic Language” and “Synthesis” — which demonstrate Steinberg’s foundation as an artist and guide viewers through the philosophical groundings of his practice at various stages of his career. The exhibition intends to show the specifics of Steinberg’s understanding of pochvennichestvo and his subsequent evolution towards existentialism, which ultimately shaped his outlook on the destiny of his generation as well as his own life.

Eduard Steinberg considers the history of the homeland as well as its problems important sources of inspiration for the artist. Drawing upon his understanding of pochvennichestvo Steinberg envisages Russian society as a classless community of people of the same culture, a shared culture which nonetheless maintains ties with other cultures. This initial philosophical stance along with the artist’s own position outside of the hierarchy of the art world prompted his involvement with existentialism.

The “Metaphysical Still Life” section shows the artist’s progression towards a particular symbolic space — objects commonly found in still-life paintings are transformed into abstract symbols. The “Diaries” section demonstrates the artist’s response to events in his everyday life. For instance, the “Commemorative Writings” series are underpinned by a sense of loss. The “Metageometry” section comprises works from Steinberg’s period of geometric abstraction, in which, seeking to express his internal concerns, the artist attempts to visualize an immaterial perfect realm. The “Synthesis” section presents the specific features of Steinberg’s pictorial language as the product of both his life experience and spiritual aspirations.

While previous exhibitions of Eduard Steinberg’s work have tended to focus predominantly on the final output of the artist’s quest for his own means of expression, the exhibition in MMOMA explores the formation and the development of the artist's visual language.

With the support of the AVC Charity Foundation, a catalogue and the book by E.V. Barabanov “Metageometry of the Artist Steinberg” will be published to coincide with the exhibition. The design is realized with the support of Manders company.

Eduard Steinberg was born in Moscow on March 3, 1937, and died in Paris, March 28, 2012. His father Arkadiy Akimovich Steinberg was a poet, translator, and artist. Eduard Steinberg was much influenced by his father and the intelligentsia circle in his native Tarusa, within which Boris Sveshnikov played a crucial role in the formation of the artist. The number of works from Steinberg’s formative period, including those on display in MMOMA, is evidence of the intensity of the artist’s self-education. However, Steinberg’s first exhibition, organized alongside that of Vladimir Yankilevsky, took place only in 1978.

During perestroika, the Paris gallerist Claude Bernard introduced Steinberg’s works to the international art scene. Since the 1990s the artist lived and worked in both Paris and Tarusa. His works are featured in public collections including the Center Georges Pompidou, Paris; the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; the Moscow Museum of Modern Art; the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; the State Russian Museum, St Petersburg; the Ludwig Museum, Cologne; the Kolodzei Art Foundation (New Jersey, USA); as well as in private collections of the Rothschild family, Paris; George Costakis, Greece.

Natalia Smolyanskaya, PhD is an artist, curator and theorist of modern art. She was the director of a research program at the International College of Philosophy (Paris, 2007-2013). Natalia Smolyanskaya is a participant of the European Network for Avant-garde and Modernism studies (EAM) and her current research interests include artwork and theories of avant-garde art, work and theoretical heritage of Kazemir Malevich, modern art and curatorship. She is the editor of the 64th issue of the magazine Rue Descartes, author of publications on problems of avant-garde and contemporary art.

Mikhail Prokhorov Fund (Charitable Fund for Cultural Initiatives) is a private charity launched in 2004 by the businessman Mikhail Prokhorov. The foundation aims at supporting and developing new cultural institutions and initiatives in Russian regions and their integration into the global cultural context; increasing the intellectual capital and creative potential of local communities. The fund’s major lines of activity include science, education, culture and art. The charitable program is being implemented within the framework of grants competitions, non-competitive support for targeted programs and through the implementation of its own projects.

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