The Savitsky Karakalpakstan Art Museum at Nukus, Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan
Opened in 1966, the museum houses a collection of over 82,000 items, ranging from antiquities from Khorezm to Karakalpak folk art, Uzbek fine art and, uniquely, the second largest collection of Russian avant-garde in the world (after the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg).
Igor Savitsky (Russian painter, archeologist and collector) single-handedly created the museum. He began his collection with traditional clothing, jewellery, carpets and textiles created by the Karakalpak people in the region, and moved on to collect the works of indigenous artists as well as the underground art of the Uzbekistan school, which melded Asian influences with European expressionism. Ultimately he would make six 1,700-mile trips to and from Moscow to rescue the avant-garde work of Russian painters. Moreover, refuting the Socialist Realism school, the collection shook the foundations of that period of art history. It was not until perestroika in 1985—the year after he died—that Savitsky’s remarkable achievements and collections were truly acknowledged, and not until 1991—when Uzbekistan became independent—that Nukus, a remote ‘closed’ city during the Soviet Union, became accessible to the outside world. (x) (x) (x)