|« previous | blog | next »|
August 29, 2006
We are delighted to pass along this great news. Steve Yates, one of the world's most respected scholars on the history of Russian photography has just been granted his third Fulbright Scholar Award to continue his important research. To our knowledge no other person has received three such awards. This comes just a month after we were honored to be able to re-publish Yates's in-depth illustrated essay, "The Value of Space" in Lens Culture.
Here is an excerpt from his letter:
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Want to let you know that Washington has just given me the Fulbright Scholars Award in photographic history to Russia. This is an honor because it is [my] third such award, which is unprecedented. [...]
The award is for Research/Lectures: in the past research was not official and the first Fulbrights were only for lecturing, which I did around the country. Times are changing. My host is the Stroganov Institute in Moscow, which has quite a history. For several centuries it was a respected icon painting school; then after WWI it became one of the leading modern art schools with teachers of the Russian Avant-Garde -- until Stalin stopped it along with all forms of modernism in the purges of the 1930s. Now supported administrativley by the UK, I was invited by the Director with support of the Rodchenko Family to teach at the school. Known as Vkhutemas (Free State Art Studios) in the 1920s, the modern art school supported the most advanced artists who contributed to international art, design, architecture and advertising in the new society beyond the painting easel. Vkhutemas ran parallel to the German Bauhaus, which was summarily eliminated by Hitler in the 1930s as well.
What is interesting historically is that Alexander Rodchenko taught at the school with his artist wife, Varvara Stepanova. His grandson, Alexander Lavrentiev and daughter (who is the great granddaughter) teach at the school today. They and Varvara, Rodchenko's only daughter, remain pedagogically driven. The family commitment to education remains active on many fronts. So I return to share more of the true early modern history beyond ideology from many years of research and curating, in honor of their great tradition. Historically the USSR never recognized Rodchenko's contributions during his life time, especially his numerous photographic innovations. Today major universities in Russia begin to establish modern art curricula, yet the history of photography remains with key individuals and in only a few schools along with annual photo festivals. So I hope to encourage more with my work and activities.
For the Fublright I will lecture on the history of early modern photography from years of research. This will be complemented by highlights from the museum's collection and website assembled for the exhibit "Idea Photographic" (www.museumofnewmexico.org/idea) assembled a few years ago. The website remains one of the most active in museum systems as well as on Google. My lectures will help to further mainstream modern Russian contributions with our early modernists and others along with new history.
The Fulbirght also allows me to complete years of research officially in private archives and museum collections. This includes finalizing my work on LÃ¡szlÃ³ Moholy-Nagy for the planned thematic retrospective. While Moholy's younger brother ended up in the Soviet Union after WWI (and was eventually killed by Stalin), Moholy never traveled there. However the formative influence of the Russian Avant-Garde was a catalyst to Moholy's unique contributions in photography as well as thirteen mediums. Thanks to Moholy's various relationships with Malevich, Mayakovsky, Lissitzky and others, which I continue to uncover in collections -- as well as striking historical parrallels with Rodchenko -- the Research/Lecture Fulbright Award could not come at a better time.
And we say: CONGRATULATIONS, STEVE!