Photography Collection

The photography collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is a set of unique visual materials connected with the art of photography representing changes in artistic styles, the development of photographic techniques, and the evolution of technologies and visual language.

The photography fund was organized in 1986 and was stored initially in the Manuscripts Department. The Art of Photography Department was established in 2009, and the development of this collection has become one of the department’s most important priorities. In 2021, the photography fund of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts house 1942 depository items. The collection covers the period from the 1880s to the 2010s, and contains works by 150 authors, both Russian and foreign, belonging to different schools and movements.

The collection includes pre-revolutionary photography (Pierre Choumoff, Moisei Nappelbaum); Soviet photography of the 1920s–1930s (Boris Ignatovich, Alexander Rodchenko, Arkady Shaikhet); photographs of the so-called “The Sixtiers”, participants of the photo club “Novator” (Anatoly Boldin, Alexander Vikhansky, Mikhail Dashevsky, Anatoly Erin); the conceptual projects of the 1970s–1980s are represented by the works of various schools that were established within the former USSR – St. Petersburg, Minsk, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Chernivtsi, and Lithuania (Gennady Bodrov, Alexander Lapin, Alexander Kitaev, Galina Moskaleva, Evgeny Pavlov, Oleg Malyovany, Marlene Matus, Vyacheslav Tarnovetsky, Vitas Luckus); contemporary Russian photography – works by Oleg Videnin, Vadim Gushchin, Alla Esipovich, Gregory Maiofis, Evgeny Nesterov, Valeri Nistratov, Yuri Palmin, Andrew Polushkin, Olga Tobreluts, Andrey Chezhin, Valera and Natasha Cherkashin and others). A significant part of the fund consists of photographs by photographers from Spain, Italy, the USA, Eastern Europe and East Asia (Peter Lindbergh, Roger Ballen, Mario Giacomelli, Clark & Pougnaud, Steve Yates, Gérard Rancinan, Almond Chu and others).

In 2018, the Photography Department presented a series of videos about one of the directions in history of photography – experimental photography of the 1970s–1980s in the USSR. Authors, mostly not associated with official photojournalism, looked for alternative topics, demonstrating the author’s vision, an imperfect life; their stories were sometimes very personal. It has become a special cultural phenomenon with certain characteristics, which makes it possible to consider it separately. Experimental photography was based on various alternative ways of printing: overlaying negatives (double exposure), collage and reshooting, toning, hand coloring, solarization, etc.
The video: Marlene Matus, Evgeny Pavlov, Oleg Malyovany, Vitas Luсkus.

In 2021, an online presentation “Collection. The history of photography in detail” was published on the site of the project Artefact. The presentation demonstrates selected works from the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts – from early photographic processes to digital prints – with commentaries by the curators. Twenty-five works from the photography fund are a unique selection of works that characterize the individual style of certain authors, various processes, and focus on important directions in the history of photography, our country and its cultural characteristics through the language of photography.