Why You Might Start Seeing More Contemporary Russian Art in Museums

Maxim Zmeyev, AFP/Getty Images
Maxim Zmeyev, AFP/Getty Images / Maxim Zmeyev, AFP/Getty Images

Until recently, Russia’s legal definition of "art" only applied to works created at least 50 years ago. As The Art Newspaper reports, a new law has changed that: Contemporary art now qualifies as art under Russian law, and wealthy private collectors are profiting from the revision.

Art museums and auctions have been a rarity in Russia for decades. In the 1990s, following the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian government passed legislation that discouraged art dealers from exporting cultural treasure to other countries. The law also had the added effect of making it difficult for Russians to import art: If a museum wanted to bring paintings into the country that were less than 50 years old, they would need to pay a 30 percent import tax on each item.

Private art museums already exist in places like Moscow, but these are often funded by billionaires using legal loopholes to get art through the door. Thanks to the new law, Russian art collectors will have an easier time importing art under their own names, and those who had taken their collections outside Russia now have an incentive to return to their home country.

Ultra-wealthy art collectors aren't the only people who will benefit from the change. Contemporary Russian artists will now have an easier time getting their work seen in venues abroad, which means foreign art consumers may soon be exposed to a lot more post-Soviet art.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]