Have you been to Savitsky Museum? — Asia Travel

State Museum of Arts named after I.V. Savitsky

In May of 2009 year, the famous magazine New York Times Travel Magazine included the Museum of Fine Arts, from the little-known Uzbek city of Nukus, into a list of 29 places in the world, which will surely shake up your imagination.

Do not rush to curl the lips in a smile, imagining what with a museum might hit of even by the standards of Uzbekistan a provincial town.

You even can not imagine that in a small Nukus (the capital of Karakalpakstan), on a quiet Rzayev street, there is already for 45 years the second largest (after the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg) collection of an extremely popular these days, the Russian avant-garde. There is also an interesting collection of artifacts of ancient Khorezm civilization, as well as well-chosen collection of folk decorative — applied art of Karakalpakstan at this museum.

And all this is thanks to a completely unique person, ascetic, founder of the museum and its first leader — Igor Vitalevich Savitsky (lived from 1915 to 1984 years).

The talented Russian artist — Igor Savitsky was born and raised in Kiev. Into Karakalpakstan, he at first time came in 1950 year, having arrived here as a painter participating in the Khorezm archeological and ethnographic expedition, led by world-renowned scientist — the Professor Sergei Pavlovich Tolstov. Upon completion of the archaeological work of the expedition (1950 – 1957 years), Igor Vitalevich, who was completely charmed by culture of the people of this lost in a steppe region, moved from flat in the centre of Moscow and stayed in Nukus, having decided to assemble a collection of objects of national arts and crafts, which from this period his heart belonged to.

Having toured and beating, together with his assistants the whole north of Karakalpakstan, Savitsky assembled a collection, which was in fact, the gene pool of Karakalpak culture. In those early years, only few people could understand the true value of these things. Amoung them there were jewelry, embroidered wonderful costumes, carpets, home goods and chattels of the yurts, horse gear, which were no longer needed at home because of the onset of civilization and the change of political power. The younger generation of the Karakalpak genuinely did not understand why this strange man was so interested into the old «rags.» He even became known as rag picker, as he dragged things out of pens for cattle, pulled out of ditches, saved old carpets when somebody tried to plug the gateway with them, saving old curiosities, fired by kindling fires. And all this in the future was carefully restored and promoted.

Igor Vitalevich at the same time continued his studies in painting and painted the stunning landscapes of the land, which became for him a home. He practiced with the first Karakalpak artists and methodically tried to convince authorities that Karakalpakstan just needs a museum of art. Therefore, in 1966 year, finally – he became the first director of the Nukus Museum, which was opened thanks to his initiative.

Possessing a rare artistic taste and knowing the true value of art, Savitsky, using the privileges of the Director, at his own risk begins to form a museum collection of avant-garde artists, who in those days were hardly recognized in the official media.

At first, he collected works by artists whose names were linked with Central Asia (A. Isupov, N. Ulyanov, L. Kramarenko, M. Voloshin, R. Falk) and stood at the origins of the Central Asian school of painting (R. Mazel, M. Kurzin , A. Volkov, N. Karahan, U. Tansykbayev, P. Benkov, V. Ufimtsev and others). Subsequently, however, Savitsky significantly increased the number of artists whose works were acquired for the museum. Among these, there are the first names of Russian avantgard artists of 1920-1930 years: L. Bakulin, K. Redko, D. Burliuk, A. Osmyorkin, R. Falk, A. Shevchenko, A. Popov, D. Shterenberg and many of others.
He bought and exported from Moscow and other cities of the Soviet Union, hundreds of thousands of works, which were besmirched, branded in the formalism, buried in oblivion rogue artists into a far-off from the political battles, the district Nukus.

It is scary to think what would have happened if the local authorities understood that what is used for the money, that were dedicated to the museum. Which however, was too little and Savitsky, for many years had to find incredible ways that would pay for the collected paintings and drawings.

However, along with purchasing of works of art, Igor Vitalevich still had to pay much attention to updating and organizing the collection of arts and crafts of Karakalpakstan. In addition, having dedicated his younger years working in the Khorezm Archaeological and Ethnographic Expedition, Savitsky was one of those who actively supported and contributed to the continuation of archaeological work in the territory of Khorezm. Thus, the archaeological museum collection enriched in the materials of excavation.

Titanic activity of I.V. Savitsky was not in vain, as a result he was able to create a museum, which contains unique archaeological collection relating to the culture material of ancient Khorezm, and one of the best collections of national arts and crafts of Karakalpakstan, as well as one of the most significant collection of Soviet avant-garde.

However, as it happens everywhere now, the official recognition of Savitsky and collected by him collection came after the death of a remarkable artist and a scientist. Only in 1991 year, with the new changes in the country, a large-scale promotion of the museum in Nukus has begun and opened the way for journalists and experts, employees of international organizations and foreign embassies.

These days, it is well known that Nukus collection of Russian avant-garde, almost does not have the value and is comparable only with a collection of similar paintings at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

And you can only take our word for true, or to come and see all this beauty with your own eyes!