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By John Helmer, Moscow Extracting guilty pleas from the innocent was the specialty of the Spanish Inquisition and its Grand Inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada (lead image, centre). Extracting guilty pleas from the dead is the specialty of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill (right), and Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov (left), head of the Church commission investigating […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow You might say that Russian realism as the style of painting embodying the national spirit, came into its own with “Barge Haulers on the Volga” (lead image), the famous oddity painted by Ilya Repin over three years, 1870-73, following his graduation from the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg.   […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Since the 14th century it’s been said that if you take a pitcher to the well too often, it will eventually come back broken. When it comes to the market in Russian avant-garde art, taking the same picture to the well twice may be once too often. 

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By John Helmer, Moscow For one day  in London every June and December, the Russian assets which regularly pass through greased palms on terms dismal for their repetitiveness,  are of a beauty to make you forget the damage the trade does to the country and its people. The Russian Art Week auctions are the occasion. […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow There have been many, many advertisements for the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, but none as alluring as those he composed and performed for himself. Now that he has died, and his body is to return this week from Oklahoma for burial near Moscow, there will be many more advertisements. Some will be […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow There are large departments at the Pentagon and NATO headquarters for fabricating lies and faking news. They create the threats against which military forces are the defence. The more threats there are in circulation, the more it costs to produce them, and also to defend against them.  So President Donald Trump […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow Naturally, war is about winning and losing. So there are songs to pick up your courage in advance, and songs of grief for what comes after.  There are also songs to help you forget what is happening. Since the destruction of Russia which Boris Yeltsin and the Clinton family began, together, […]

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By John Helmer, Moscow  If you were the only person in the world who thought yourself a genius, it would be an embarrassment to be named Barry Parsnip. Robert Zimmerman solved the nomenclature problem. He became Bob Dylan – and Hey Presto! He won the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2016. Barry Parsnip (aka Boris […]

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By Simon Hewitt, Geneva* AN AUCTION staged in Paris this March has written another unedifying chapter in the art market history of the Russian Avant-Garde.

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By John Helmer, Moscow A rare drawing by Ilya Chashnik, a Russian artist who died in St. Petersburg in 1929, was sold last month by the Tajan art auction house after a warning that the provenance claimed for the work was false. The work was sold on March 8, according to Tajan’s specialist for modern […]