The Museum Of Pictorial Culture

From Less-Known Russian Avant-garde series

Lev Manovich and Julian Sunley, 2021

Although we usually assume think that first museum of modern art was MoMA (New York, 1929), an earlier museum called Museum of Pictorial Culture was established in 1919 and run by most important Russian avant-garde artists until its closing in 1929. Our essays discuss innovative museum concepts developed by these artists, and point out their relevance to recent museum experiments in presenting their collections online using visualization methods.

The Museum founders included Kandinsky, Malevich, Rodchenko, Tatlin and other artists.The research questions and goals of the museum included the following: 1) How to best represent modern art? What artists should a new museum collect? 2) How to facilitate the research of artists in residence in the museum? 3) How to develop a scientific approach for studying both contemporary and historical art? 4) How should works be shown in a museum? (Accordingly, the artists were experimenting with different systems for organizing works spatially and temporally.)

Featured image: Kandinsky’s ‘Painting with White Lines’ (1913)

Dr. Lev Manovich is one of the leading theorists of digital culture worldwide and a pioneer in the use of data science for analysis of visual culture. Manovich is the author and editor of 15 books including Cultural AnalyticsAI AestheticsTheories of Software CultureInstagram and Contemporary ImageSoftware Takes CommandSoft Cinema: Navigating the Database and The Language of New Media which was described as “the most suggestive and broad-ranging media history since Marshall McLuhan.” He was included in the list of “25 People Shaping the Future of Design” in 2013 and the list of “50 Most Interesting People Building the Future” in 2014. Manovich is a Presidential Professor at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and a Director of the Cultural Analytics Lab. The lab created projects for the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), New York Public Library, Google, and other organizations. Manovich’s latest book “Cultural Analytics” was published by The MIT Press in Fall 2020.

Julian Sunley is researcher based in London. He received BA in Slavic Studies the University of Oxford. His work focuses on 20th century Russian culture.

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